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Blustery Burghfield season opener

By Peter McFarlane

The first Blaze open of the year was held at Burghfield Sailing Club on 25 March. We were fortunate enough to have a training session held by Adam Bowers on the previous day. The wind on the training day was already very blustery, and after coming in at lunchtime we did not go out again in the afternoon, but held a sail trim sesssion on land which covered both the M7 rig and the carbon rig, and we also learnt a lot about the differences in the three currently available sails (North and Hartley Mains, and the North Fire).

The day of the open saw even stronger winds, gusting to in excess of 30kts. It was a day much more suited to the smaller Fire sail, and the fleet was evenly split between Fire and Blaze sails. It was sailed as a single mixed handicap fleet which gave the Fire sail an even greater advantage, the Blaze mainsail being overpowered even for the heavier sailors. There were numerous capsizes which kept the safety boats busy pulling mastheads out of the mud. The boats themselves did not all survive without injury. The breakages included a snapped halyard, a broken kicker, a foot went through a mainsail, and a rudder blade even snapped in a gust. The latter was a rude welcome to the newest member of the Blaze fleet, Alex Horlock, who had only just bought his boat that morning from Paul Taylor, one of the longest standing members now leaving us for a more sedate class. Fortunately Alex had made sure to insure his boat before sailing. He also won one of the races before his untimely rudder mishap. The RO set a brilliant course, very suited to Blaze sailors. It was a boxed figure of eight with the three crossbars all being reaches. We Blaze sailors really enjoy a good reach, which in stronger winds can be extremely exhilarating, and we were not disappointed. This course also had the wondrous effect of there being two enforced gybes in the course. Even the most experienced sailors could be seen putting in a few chicken gybes.

All of the races were won by different boats. The overall results showed that the Fire rig was clearly preferred, with the first two boats sporting a Fire sail. Pete Barlow winning overall honours and Mike Lyons coming second. The first Blaze was myself, Peter McFarlane in overall third place, sailing the aptly named Vital Spark. Even weighing 95Kg, I regretted not having chosen the Fire rig. The Pink Flamingo Pyjamas (usually given to the most outrageous event on water), was given once again to Andy Wilson, this time for an off water mishap of leaving his expensive jacket in the pub after the previous day’s training session. We look forward to seeing him wearing his accolade at the Easterns at Sheppey on 13/14 May.

A big thank you to Mark Cooper, the Race Officer, all the safety boat crews who had an incredibly busy day, and to Allen for providing prizes.

1st - Pete Barlow (Fire)

2nd - Mike Lyons (Fire)

3rd - Pete McFarlane (Blaze)

4th - Mike Bell (Blaze)

5th - Alex Horlock (Blaze)

6th - Andy Wilson (Blaze)

7th - Craig Richards (Blaze)

8th - Mark Cuthbert (Blaze)

9th - Lee Marriott (Blaze)

10th - Chris Goymer (Blaze)

11th - David Shafto (Fire)

12th - Steve Sharp (Fire)

Full results HERE

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