Those lucky few who could get out of work early on Friday made their way to Chase Water Sailing Club and were welcomed to a stunning millpond as the sunset. After masts had been raised and boats fiddled with the bar swiftly opened and takeaways started to arrive, giving all a good chance to catch up on what a great year of Blaze sailing it had been.
The start on Saturday was scheduled for 1100, plenty of time for early morning arrivals to rig and then enjoy England whoop the Argentinians in Japan.
As the fleet headed out to the start area, in a light and shifty 7-10Knts, it soon became apparent that the day was going to be a very interesting game of snakes and ladders.
The first start of a weekends racing is always an interesting one. The fleet pushed hard with the top guns eager to lay down the gauntlet. However, with over 50 boats on the line in was inevitable that the first start was a general recall. The race committee then decided to hoist the U flag for the rest of the weekend.
The race committee had also made the choice to run courses around set club racing marks, which as it turned out, made for some different and more exciting courses than usual. Once the first race got away it was the home fleet that took the early lead and asserted their dominance with a 1st Ben Pickering, 2nd Alex Berry and 3rd Mark Blackham. Clearly, they were used to the shiftiness of the small lake!
After the first race, there was time for a quick return to shore for hot lunch and drinks served up by the club, followed by a quick bit of boat tuning to suit the conditions.
The 2nd race of the day soon got underway and again it was Ben Pickering who, even having been out of the class for some while, showed his form with another convincing win. Followed by Ben Harden (Burnham SC) and then Alex Berry.
Race 3 and conditions continued to stay consistently inconsistent. With the shifts making for huge gains and losses. This time it was Simon Beddows (Reading SC) who would challenge Ben P for the front, fortunately for Ben P he stayed strong and rounded off the day with 3 wins from 3. Simon followed closely behind with Alex Berry continuing his consistent day with another 3rd.
Results after day 1 looked as follows
1st – Ben Pickering – 3pts
2nd – Alex Barry – 8 pts
3rd – Simon Beddows – 11pts
4th - Ben Harden – 16pts
5th - Eden Hyland – 21pts
Day 1 was rounded off with a very boozy curry night, live music from The Fazys and a surprise appearance from a certain pink flamingo.
Sunday dawned and wind conditions were a stark contrast today 1. The wind had changed 180 degrees and built to a 15 gusting 25knts. Paired with the sore heads and 3 back to back races, it was bound to make for an interesting day.
Race 4, and it was time for the big boys to shine. Martin Hattersley (Chase SC) and Malcolm Hutchings battled out at the front for the first few legs. And then, no surprise, Ben P worked his way back to the front of the fleet and took his 4th win. After some interesting gybe mark moments, position changes were inevitable. 2nd was Martin Hattersley and 3rd Alex Berry.
Race 5, by this time the fleet was already tiring, and several sailors opted for an early pack away with the breeze proving too much. At least the wind and cold moments in the water had dispersed any hangovers. This time it was current National Champion, Eden Hyland (Chase SC), who’d show his big wind skills and take the win. Ben P just needed a half-decent result and the event was in the bag. He followed just behind Eden. 3rd place went to a newbie Blazer, Nick Tolhurst (Burnham SC), who despite the wind and having only sailed the boat 3 times managed to hold onto the end.
The final race of the weekend and numbers on the start line were considerably down from the full entry list. As either gear failure, body fatigue or generally reasonable thinking came into play. Ben Pickering, having already won the event now the discard was about to kick in, opted for an early pack away. This time it was Ben Harden, Josh Hyland and Sam Pickering, who was sporting a MK1 blaze, to battle out for the final win of the weekend. Ben Harden took the final win of the weekend with Sam 2nd and Josh 3rd.
Thanks to Chase Water Sailing Club and all the volunteers for hosting an absolutely fantastic weekend. We will be back!
Dates for the Diary:
Blaze Nationals 2020 – Stone Sailing Club 5th – 7th June.
Northern Championships 2020 – Hornsea Sailing Club 25th – 26th March.
South Western Championships 2020 – Paignton Sailing Club 9th – 10th May
Southern Championships 2020 – Warsash Sailing Club – 16th – 17th May
Eastern Championships 2020 – Wilsonian Sailing Club 4th – 5th July
Inlands 2020 – TBC
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Pictures courtesy of Peter Mackin