Stewartby Winter Handicap 11 November 2000

Location: Stewartby Water Sports Club, Near Bedford.

On Saturday 11 November, sixteen boats congregated at Stewartby Water Sports Club in Bedfordshire for the first venue in the Dart 15 winter series.

The day dawned with strong winds and lots of rain forecast, and the weather did not let us down. Race officers, Neville Solerburg and Dennis Rushton, battled to set a figure of eight course in a force five gusting six. The first race got underway at 11.15 am after a 15 minute postponement due to Remembrance Sunday - without which Nick Dewhirst could not have started on time! Robin Hall was first to the windward mark followed by the pack but at the second mark Hall led the majority of the fleet in the wrong direction leaving Paul Smith and Philip Howden in first and second places, hardly believing their luck. As the race developed Chris Black, Nick Dewhirst and Robin Hall (Sprint) worked their way up to the front with the rest of the sailors capsizing all about. Robin Hall took line honours but the last few laps Nick passed Chris Black and these two took first and second on handicap from Hall. Before lunch some of the competitors helped in the rescue of the stragglers at the rear of the fleet, several of which were stranded capsized on the lee shore.

The second race was sailed in similar conditions. After the start a few severe gusts swept across the lake and once again many helms were swimming. These conditions continued for most of the race, but once again Paul Smith and Nick Dewhirst were fighting it out for first place. The front two, were closely followed by Bob Carter and Gordon Goldstone, meanwhile at the rear of the fleet there was a good battle between boats that normally find themselves up the front end.

Towards the end, Paul Smith managed to open a small gap over Nick Dewhirst and took line honours. Nick kept his cool and took second place from Bob Carter and Gordon Goldstone. Steve Sawford was the first Sprint boat home in fifth place followed by Bill Tusting in seventh. Thus Nick Dewirst won overall from Paul Smith who has much improved his heavy weather performance.

All competitors received a crate of Carlsberg for their efforts and a slice of Graham's mum's wonderful apple pie and cream.

The travelers series now moves on to Beaver on 9 December.

Overall Results
1st N. Dewhirst Whitstable
2nd P. Smith Beaver
3rd R. Carter Grafham
4th S. Sawford Rutland
5th R. Hall Stewartby
6th G. Goldstone Queen Mary

Sprint Results
1st S. Sawford Rutland
2nd R. Hall Stewartby
3rd W. Tusting Grafham
4th D. Stanbridge Rutland
5th G. Shrimpton Stewartby
6th G. Farr Stewartby

Furthest travelers: A & M Welman