Blaze Midlands Championship at Draycote
The Blaze fleet met for the 2nd time since restrictions eased, and there were many new faces in the fleet, especially from the fast-growing East Coast fleet which is great to see. It was perfect weather for a battle: the sun shone and it was a gusty South Westerly 13-20kt breeze.
The Race Officer had 2 courses available to him – a standard Trapezoid and the less common Inverse P, which is what he went with. This provided a broad reach to the gybe mark and a tight reach back to the run. The tightness of the gybe catching a few out, especially when attempted in a gust! The gate at the bottom also allowed for some spatial separation and a split in tactics for those that wanted it.
Race 1 started with shifty winds. The fleet arrived early at the start leaving space for Kingdon at the committee boat end. He managed to sail upwind in clean air and reach the windward mark first. Sailing downwind Harden and Hutchings closed the gaps before heading upwind and losing the distance. This pattern repeated each lap until the final downwind leg and Harden squeezed past on the inside and won the first race just before the finish. Race 2 was a repeat of race 1 with Harden, Hutchings and Kingdon fighting for position, but Harden’s superior downwind speed enabling him to reach the podium first. Behind them Ironmonger found his form and led home the pack.
Race 3 had Harden, Hutchings and Kingdon in their now normal 1,2,3 position, but the positions behind were hotly contested. This time it was the turn of Tatem to take 4th, followed by Holman and Tolhurst.
Race 4 saw some big gusts and windshifts before the start, upsetting the order, and it was Tatem who seized the moment heading upwind on the port side and grabbing a big lead. There were also several capsizes at the gybe mark providing more chances to grab positions with Buckley gaining 4th his best position. At the front, alas for Tatem, Harden again showed his superior downwind technique and overtook to win 4 out of 4 races and be the clear winner.
With seemingly there being no home advantage, the top prizes were split between East and West coast sailors with East winning out in the end.
In order to be COVID compliant, which the club had enacted throughout the day, no specific prize giving was held, instead, winners were invited to report to collect their prizes which were awarded: 1st Ben Harden, Burnham Sailing Club 2nd Malcolm Hutchings, Royal Corinthian Sailing club (and first Master) 3rd Hugh Kingdon, North Devon Yacht Club 1st Polyester Boat Nicholas Tolhurst, Royal Corinthian Sailing Club 1st Youth Nathan Clark, Burnham Sailing Club 1st Lady, Alex Porteous, Royal Corinthian Sailing club 1st Grand Master, Mike Lyons Endeavour Prize, Douglas Clow, Island Barn Sailing Club
The Class like to be inclusive though so that a few don’t go home with all the prizes and so everyone only won once.
The big win was that we have been able to have an event at all. It was the weekend when we were due to have the Nationals championship and had been cancelled. We would like to say our thanks to Draycote Sailing Club for stepping in and supporting the fleet and to Richard Botting for organising the event.
The next fleet reunion is at Burghfield (3rd October) and then North Devon Yacht Club (23rd October).
Photos: Ben Harden approaching the Gybe mark chased by Paul Tatem Ben Harden, Winner, 2020
Written by Hugh Kingdon