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Shoreham Sailing Club hosted their second annual open meeting and boy did they deliver cracking start to the season. A good portion of sun, a solid force 3 to 4 and plenty of waves to play in, what more could Snipe Sailors ask for! Although racing was scheduled to take place on the Sunday and Monday of the bank holiday weekend most competitors took the opportunity to arrive on the Saturday afternoon for a pre race tune up, winter debrief and wellness program (in the bar).

Eleven Snipes entered the event with competitors having travelled from clubs in Cheshire, Lee Valley, Essex, and Kent. All places were hard fought throughout the fleet and I am sure all competitors felt it every meter gained and lost on the following Tuesday morning. I know I certainly did. Event winners were Richard and Iain Marshal from Maldon Sailing club with three firsts, Ian and Bridget Knight came second with Ian Gregory and Cécile Munoz just edging Alan Williams and Liz Crouch to third place on discard. Good results were also posted by Tom Ditchburn and Tom Hubbard.

Race one took place in an offshore force three with a knot or two of tide. There was plenty to be gained and lost on the upwind legs with plenty of shifts in the early part of the leg and a wind bend that appeared on every let approaching the windward mark. Tom Ditchburn and Tom Hubbard took an early lead and led the fleet onto the first reach of the triangle sausage course. Ian and Bridget knight used their local knowledge (and spotted the top Merlin sailors at the club) heading inshore on the next upwind leg and followed suit, as did Iain and Richard Marshall. At the second windward mark, Ian and Bridget were still in front although with Iain and Richard hot on their tails. It had already become apparent that the weekend was going to be full of close racing as mini battles had already begun right the way through the fleet - yet another sign that 2009 is going to be a fantastic season. It was Ian and Bridget at the front of the fleet that signalled their intentions for this year taking the first Snipe Bullet of the year. Iain and Richard came second and Ian Gregory and Cecile Munoz third.

After a 30 minute(ish) lunch break race 2 got underway. Most sailors must have been frozen by this point, although sunny enough to give you sunburn the temperature of the wind and water was surprisingly cold. As it turned out Shortie wetsuits were not the order of the day - will I ever learn? The wind had begun to freshen slightly and at the gun, the "Tom" boys were again up in the chocolates at the first mark. It was however Ian and Bridget that lead for the majority of the race only to be taken by the Marshalls on the last reach. The final run proved to be nail biting for Ian and Bridget because Ian ad Cécile had managed to reel them in to withing milimeters of 2nd place. A very close finish!

Ahh Yes... Race three. Well all I can say is damn long races! Having lead the race for 9 legs Cécile Munoz and Ian Gregory surrendered their lead to a determined GBR29501 on the last beat. Iain and Richard Marshall having recovered from an OCS at the start pulled through the fleet to take tactical advantage in strengthening wind conditions. A special mention must go to Alan Williams and Liz Crouch who after also being OCS at the start made a belated return to the start area, the net effect was giving the rest of the fleet a 3 minute headstart, generosity at its kindest !!

By the time Race 4 was underway, the breeze had well and trully kicked in ! Bonus, just what you want for the last race at the end of the first weekend of the season! Anyhow, the top three positions were still up for grabs; it was Iain and Richard who took up an early lead which they maintained through to the finish, securing overall victory. The battle for second and third however was still well and truly on. Either Ian and Cecile or Ian and Bridget could have taken second and Alan and Liz had finally found the gas pedal and were now in the melting pot for third but relying on other results to go their way. The blustery conditions were now taking their toll throughout the fleet with a few people trying their hand at channel swimming, some hairy gybes and lots of lively downwind action. In the battle for the 1st, Ian and Cécile had dropped back from the leading trio. After yet another not so successful start, Alan and Liz had clawed their way through the fleet into third and on the final windward leg moved into second ahead of Ian and Bridget who held third place until the end to secure second overall.

After 4 races with exceptionally close racing, third place was decided on discard and was awarded to Ian and Cécile.

Once ashore, the tired sailors were grateful that the final effort of hauling the boats up the steep ramp were made somewhat less painful because in true Sniper style everybody pitched in to help everybody else.

A massive thank you must go to Shoreham sailing club for their hospitality and excellent race organisation, with a special thanks to the hard work put in by Ian Knight for organising the event. Shoreham is such a great sea venue - those of us that attended should spread the word in the Dinghy Park to encourage more boats to the next one. It was especially good to see some new faces amongst the fleet - hope to see you all at Blue Circle on the 4th and 5th of July if not at the Junior and Ladies Nationals

The Morning After the night before.

OH DEAR, OH DEAR, OH DEAR !!!
A large number of the sailors woke up on Tuseday morning, and if they had forgotten instantly knew that they had been sailing all weekend in a stiff breeze. I hear there were some walking wounded “aches and pains everywhere” - All in the name of fun !!

Images of the racing can be viewed and purchased at www.warwickpics.co.uk

Rank SailNo Club Helm Name Crew Name R1 R2 R3 R4 Total Nett
1st GBR29501 Maldon YC Iain Marshall Richard Marshall (2) 0.75 0.75 0.75 4.25 2.25
2nd GBR29164 Shoreham SC Ian Knight Bridget Knight 0.75 2 (3) 3 8.75 5.75
3rd GBR28451 Blue Circle SC Ian Gregory Cécile Munoz (5) 3 2 5 15 10
4th GBR30316 Blue Circle SC Alan Williams Liz Crouch 4 4 (6) 2 16 10
5th GBR26671 Budworth SC Tom Ditchburn Tom Hubbard 3 (6) 4 4 17 11
6th GBR30315 Blue Circle SC Brian Gregory Jason Greston (7) 5 5 7 24 17
7th GBR29538 Budworth SC Eric Paalman Nick Campey 6 (10) 7 6 29 19
8th GBR30227 Budworth SC James Prestwich Joe Sampson (11) 7 10 8 36 25
9th GBR29408 Blue Circle SC Peter Wibrow Caroline Murdoch 8 9 8 (11 DNS) 36 25
10th GBR27871 Fishers Green Gavin Surtees Gareth Surtees 9 8 9 (11DNS) 37 26
11th GBR29163 Budworth SC Pauline Penny Michelle Ditchburn 10 11 DNF 11 11 DNF 43 32

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