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{jumi [iRollover/iRollover.php] [2009/bluecircle][winners: Sue Roberts & Peter Wolstenholm][James Prestwich & Henryk Sadzik][Pauline Penny & Sue Robertson][Marshall:Cotsgrove chasing down Knight:Hoy][GBR58451][Alan Williams vs Mark Antonelli]}

Blue Circle Sailing Club: 4th and 5th July

“It’s all about the start”

If you listen carefully to the underground murmurings of the dinghy park you may hear a rumour that winning at Blue Circle is all about the start. Now.. although I am myself a Blue Circle Club sailor and I admit that a good start certainly helps your campaign, I think that this weekend we were shown that it is in-fact finishing 1st that wins you Bluey. With tight reaches and short beats it takes consistent solid sailing to emerge at and remain at the front end of the fleet; something that this weekend Sue Roberts and Peter Wolstenholm proved with consummate ease! They were not always the first to the windward mark (well not every time) but the “orange boat’s” much improved boat speed ensured that those in front of them were soon behind them.

The annual blue circle open is a guaranteed fun packed event for competitors, club members and spectators. This year was no exception - as I am sure you will agree if you visit the image gallery on the website. Competitors sailed 6 races over 2 days, conditions were ideal – sun, flat water and marginal planning conditions (discounting the occasional hole/personal redirection of the jet stream…. ahem more on that later!). In the early evening we were entertained with remote control yacht racing, fish and chip eating, a spot of light lubrication and a superb live band.

I wasn’t expecting to write this report and have sadly committed some of the finer points of the races to ‘deep’ memory or rather to the deep. With that ‘in mind’ I’ll try to elaborate on some of the interesting points from my race.

The first race started well with us reaching the windward mark first – from there on is it all looked good – we were starting to pull away, maybe it is all about the start..? Moments later, however we found ourselves knocked flat by a gust from apparently nowhere. Now, if you sail at blue circle often enough you know to expect it, when the wind is blowing from the west and you are sailing near Number 5 or Number 6 gusts come quickly and from any angle. That said I do sail there and I was caught out. Maybe I didn’t react quickly enough. With hindsight I can see that we had sailed into a hole and our boat speed had brought our apparent wind from a brisk reach to close hauled. When the wind filled in back onto a reach we were meters from the bank, crouching in the middle of the boat and trimmed to go upwind. We were knocked flat and should have been out of the race. It is to the credit of my crew that we did not turtle and were only flat for a few seconds. Selfish as I am I managed to land on the plate and to keep the boat from rolling. To my amusement I found Cécile standing on the other side of it looking at me over the gunwale (I say looking but I really mean glaring – never get a Frenchie wet!). What followed can only be described as one of those surreal conversations. Started initially with eye communication and a rapid raising of the eyebrows I was asked “Well what do we do now?” to which the reply was “I dunno get on my side I guess! – err now..” Which she impressively did and has the bruises to show for it.. I think we must have been flat for 10 -15 seconds but it felt like and eternity. Capsize over and off sailing my thoughts turned to the ribbing I would get on the shore and the fact that Alan Williams and Iain Marshall were undoubtedly grateful for the gift of 1st and 2nd place.

The westerly breeze increased steadily to 14 knots throughout the day, this meant that the first beat had to be set towards and beyond the islands, making life difficult for the race officer. It enabled competitors to use the islands tactically and created tight fetches on several legs of the course. The tight fetches, short windward legs meant that all boats were only a few seconds apart and places were hotly contested throughout the fleet. Passing other boats was a challenge; jiggery pokery at the marks and decisions on pole settings provided the only real passing opportunity. What is the rule about actively blocking a potentially overtaking boat downwind and the proper course rule? Is it permitted to keep yourself between the mark and the boat astern – i.e. head up / drift down when they do? How much deviation is too much?

The wind conditions in the last race had increased sufficiently for all boats to maintain an equal speed, thus creating an interesting situation at the first windward mark. I think just about all of us arrived within a few seconds of each other (some on port..ahem). I also understand from Henrick Feddersens race notes that there was an incident of man over board (You kept that quiet James..)

Thank you to Sue Roberts and Steve Roberts, and Blue Circle Sailing Club for hosting such a great event, and to the rescue crew, Graham Campbell, Hendrik Feddersen and Andrew Wibrow for running the races.

Rank Sail No. Club Helm Name Crew Name R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Total Nett
1st GBR29611 Blue Circle SC Sue Roberts Peter Wolstenholm (5) 0.75 2 0.75 0.75 4 13.25 8.25
2nd GBR30316 Blue Circle SC Alan Williams Liz Pike 0.75 3 3 (6) 3 2 17.75 11.75
3rd GBR28451 Blue Circle SC Ian Gregory Cécile Munoz 4 2 0.75 4 (7) 5 22.75 15.75
4th GBR29501 Blackwater SC Iain Marshall Harry Cotgrove 3 4 4 (5) 2 3 21 16
5th GBR29164 Shoreham SC Ian Knight Graham Hoy (6) 6 6 3 5 0.75 26.75 20.75
6th GBR30315 Blue Circle SC Brian Gregory Jason Greston (11 DNF) 7 5 2 4 7 36 25
7th GBR30226 Budworth SC Mark Antonelli Tracy Norris 2 5 (7) 7 6 6 33 26
8th GBR29408 Blue Circle SC Peter Wibroe Caroline Murdoch 7 8 8 (9) 8 9 49 40
9th GBR29163 Budworth SC Pauline Penny Susan Robertson 9 9 (11 DNF) 8 10 8 55 44
10th GBR30227 Budworth SC James Prestwich Henryk Sadzik 8 10 9 10 9 (11 DNF) 57 46

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