The first open meeting of the year at Burghfield and for the Blaze class attracted 16 entries and included 5 visitors. Champagne conditions were ordered and that is what we got, if it was a little fizzy at times!
The first two races were dominated by Craig Richards with a win in each closely followed by Mike Lyons in the first race and John Copper in the second. In the first race Simon Beddows and Craig Richards got away during the first lap, with Simon passing Craig at the turn and leading. Up the nextbeat Simon was over powered and lost several places and ended up 5th.
There was plenty of capsize action and position swapping down the fleet. The second race start got pretty lively at the pin end with Simon Beddows mooring himself against the pin as an extra challenge to those trying to get across the line. Simon magnanimously retired as he wasn’t sure how many turns he would have to do to un-wind the infringements.
A great course was set by Ben Rolfe the race officer including a nice long beat from one end of the lake to the other and multiple reaches back adding to the spectators entertainment with the gybes. – some of which were successful and some not, as the day progressed more and more tack round rather than gybe tactics were employed.
The most important decision was which way round the islands to go to the top mark with the right hand side being favoured the majority of the time.
In the second race Mike Bell who was about 5th or 6th boat at the top mark, spotted wind out in the lake middle of the lake and went out on a limb & managed to pass everyone downwind to pick up the lead. He held this to just before the turn where a spectacular capsize on a gybe allowed most of the fleet to pass. On the next beat, he followed John Cooper to the left where they got an awesome lift (left was good on this occasion) so John was first round the top mark. Craig ultimately got past but John held 2nd.
Over lunch the wind built further and third race got under way cleanly, Mike Lyons leading to the first Mark closely followed by Bill Stringer who was a little surprised to say the least to be there and promptly capsized rounding the mark, relegating himself to the back of the fleet. Race three can be described as general carnage after that with Mike Bell swapping places at the front with Mike Lyons but by keeping the mast dry he ended up with a clear win.
Craig Richards domination was shattered after lunch, he started the third race and had a large lead into the bottom mark when things started to go wrong and was forced to retire from the days racing after feeling unwell. Mike Lyons in his smaller fire sail took both wins in the afternoon and the overall victory for the meeting.
By the forth race the wind had reduced a little much to the relief of what was becoming a smaller and more tired fleet. Each race resulted in a number of DNFs due to gear failure – the most frustrating was for Richard Bolting whose rack became un bolted on the first beat of the first race, not much fun following a two hour journey to get there!
The right hand side of the course was certainly favoured for the forth race with Mike Lyons leading the charge with Nick Ripley, who had made the epic journey all the way from Paignton for the day in second, closely followed by Andy Wilson another visitor in 3rd and Bill Stringer in 4th (who this time managed to stay up right rounding the mark). This group of 4 stayed away from the rest of the fleet who had all gone left, for the remainder of the race. Behind, the rest of the fleet were slugging it out right to the end with John Cooper unfortunately capsizing just before the finish (due to a rogue windsurfer in the way) , and Mike Bell put in a sneaky tack in to just cross the line ahead of Pete Barlow. Ultimately, this sneaky (in his words) tack gave him overall 2nd for the day with Pete Barlow in overall 3rd, behind the ultimate victor Mike Lyons with a Fire sail.
All in all a thoroughly good days racing, with virtually everyone taking a dip or several at some point.
Who said racing on a small pond in Berkshire isn’t fun? – there were a lot of smiles on faces after the racing, a few grimaces with the extent of repairs (boat and bodies) needed but the prizes of local beer will have numbed the pain later that evening.
Written by Bill Stringer
Full results - https://www.burghfieldsailing.org/series/3721