In unprecedented mild weather, 17 visitors joined 6 local sailors at Marconi SC for the first Traveller event of the 2014 summer season.
Three races were sailed back to back on Saturday afternoon in fairly breezy conditions throughout the afternoon.
For Race One, the majority of the fleet opted to start on port with one or two boats on starboard creating an interesting dynamic on the start line. The two Sport mode boats, Kevin Dutch and Paul Grattage battled it out between them all the way round the course with the rest of the pack led by Stuart Snell, Jenny Ball, Chris Tillyer and Dave Ball chasing behind. At the leeward mark, the fleet split to different sides of the river for the upwind leg which was against the tide – resulting in multiple changes of positions within the fleet. After three laps, Kevin finished just seven seconds in front of Paul – but on handicap Paul Craft took first place and Jenny Ball took second place, with Kevin and Paul taking third and fourth respectively.
Race Two set off again with the majority of the fleet on port dodging those boats that chose to start on starboard. The ebbing tide had strengthened making rounding the windward mark a bit more challenging for a number of boats in the fleet. Kevin Kirby took an early lead with Dave Ball and Stuart Snell, in amongst the two Sport boats. At the leeward mark, the fleet again split for the beat enabling Erling Holmberg and Jenny Ball to gain ground over the fleet leaders. After a closely fought second lap, Kevin Kirby held on to his lead, closely followed by Jenny Ball and David Ball in second and third place.
By Race Three, the wind had shifted favouring a starboard start at the outer distance mark. Kevin and Paul struggled to pull clear of the fleet to start with, but on the second lap managed to pull out a clear enough lead to put in a first and second on handicap. Jenny Ball, Dave Ball and Paul Craft came in third, fourth and fifth.
After nearly five hours of exhilarating sailing, the fleet returned to shore for a well deserved slap up dinner and a chat over the racing in the bar.
Sunday morning brought a decent breeze and bright sunshine for the now legendary long distance race around Osea and Northey Islands. The Race Officer set the usual figure of eight course around the two islands, with an additional lap round Osea Island to ensure a proper long distance race given the favourable wind conditions. The fleet set off in a good breeze and with a fair tide but shortly after the start, the wind began to be more fickle with patches of light winds and stronger winds lasting throughout the whole race. Dave Ball led round the turning point at Northey Island followed by Stuart Snell and Jenny Ball, with a gap to Pete Richardson and the rest of the fleet. However, on the run back past Osea Island, the wind filled in bringing the Sport boats and Pete Richardson and Chris Tillyer up to the front of the pack with a tightly fought leg to the turning mark. By now the tide had turned, making for a tougher beat against the tide back past Osea Island. This leg saw Paul Grattage extend his lead over the water and the front of the fleet spread out with Stuart Snell taking the lead for the una rigs. Stuart maintained his lead to take overall race win, with Paul Grattage second on handicap and Dave Ball and Jenny Ball in third and fourth respectively.
After a very enjoyable weekend of racing, Jenny Ball took the overall win with Paul Grattage in second and Kevin Dutch in third. A big thank you to everyone involved in organising the event and to those who travelled from all over the UK to take part in the first event of the season!
Full Series Results available here