Saturday dawned with a light North Westerly force 2
Race officer John Poulson greeted a disappointing turnout with only 3 visitors and 1 home sailor coming to enjoy the Derbyshire scenery.
The inverted P course for the Saturday was to be shared with a ‘slow handicap’ fleet consisting 6 Catapults and a lone Dart 18.
Prior to the start Paul Craft looked to home pond dweller Andy McLeish for advise on the wind. Andy replied, if he was sailing his regular Laser, he would short tack up the middle on all the shifts and stay well away from the wind shadow on the right hand bank.
Race 1 started with Andy, Paul and Robert England clustered at the committee boat with Steven Roberts seemingly disorientated, 50 metres shy of the pin end. The trio headed over to the middle of the course with Steve gambling on heading right to try and make up lost ground.
Andy rounded the windward mark first with Paul and Robert following.
Steve had managed to park up in a calm patch over to the right hand bank.
At the leeward mark Andy still led, with Paul closing up to around 3 boat lengths. Andy tacked early, Paul sailed on further to the right to gain clear air before tacking. Halfway up the second beat, the wind veered giving a lift which proved more beneficial to Paul than Andy.
Paul rounded the windward mark leading which he held to the finish, with the race shortened to 2 laps. Andy coming home second, Robert third. Steve became swamped by the Catapult fleet which ultimately sealed his fate.
Race 2, Paul, Steve and Andy started at the committee boat end whilst Robert port tack started at the pin end. Robert had to duck the starboard tackers and headed off towards oblivion by the right hand bank where Steve had parked the previous race.
Against all expectations, Robert made the windward mark first with a comfortable lead. Steve ‘scraped’ around the mark second followed by Andy then Paul. Robert exploited his clear wind and sailed off into the distance whilst the other three batted it out for the minor placings.
Approaching the second windward mark and coinciding with the arrival of the handicap fleet, Steve was caught out on the lay line with a backing wind, Andy crossed his transom then tacked and suffered the same fate. Meanwhile, Paul spotting the difficulty and put some extra distance in before tacking guaranteeing a clean rounding. The Dart 18 had also got caught out under the lay line and added to the fun as Andy and Steve struggled out of their predicament.
Robert finished a clear first followed home by Paul, Andy and Steve as the race was again shortened to 2 laps.
Race 3, Paul and Steve started at the committee boat whilst Andy decided to chance a pin end Port start along with Robert. Paul was uncharacteristically 30 seconds late crossing the line behind Steve and Andy was caught out milling around a similar looking mark laid for the club junior fleet doing some training and was 45 seconds late crossing the line. Steve appeared to gain the upper hand over Robert whilst Andy managed to cross ahead of Paul. Halfway up the windward leg the fleet was spread across the lake from bank to bank. Rounding the 1st mark Paul had recovered from last to round first, followed by Robert and Steve. Andy made a complete mess on the shifty approach and had 2 aborted attempts before getting round.
Second beat Paul short tacked up the middle whilst Robert went wide Left. Paul rounding first, Robert second. Andy overhauled Steve for third.
A third lap followed with the breeze beginning to build with the threat of having to use the toestraps. The race ended with Paul first, followed by Robert, Andy and Steve.
Sunday dawned with a fresher force 4 again blowing from the NW.
The course had been revised to 3 laps of a trapezoid in preparation for the ‘Barts Bash’ to be held later and included a short dogleg/fetch to finish.
Race 4, Andy and Robert both got away smartly on port tack, crossing with plenty to spare ahead of Paul and Steve.
Sailing deep into the right hand bay, Robert and Andy then tacked and gained a significant advantage over the other two who had gone left.
Robert was first to the windward mark, with Andy right on his transoms.
A battle royale ensued between Robert and Andy with the two boats never having an advantage of more than two or three boat lengths for the whole race.
At the final windward mark, Andy had the lead from Robert. At the next mark Andy gybed round and followed some pressure in the middle of the course whilst Robert sail over to the Left hand side. Andy appeared to extend his lead until the pressure died. Robert then retook the lead at the penultimate mark before heading around an offset mark before just fetching the finish line with Andy one boat length behind. Paul prevailed to finish third, just ahead of Steve.
Race 5, With Paul and Robert both with a 1,1,2,3 scoreline, this race was to be the decider.
Andy again chose to start on port crossing the other three. Paul chose to tack soon after the start and followed Andy into the right hand bay whilst Steve and Robert headed left. At the windward mark Robert rounded first followed by Steve. Andy then rounded with Paul trailing in fourth.
A lap later, Paul had managed to work up to second and was making gains on Robert.
Andy and Steve became similarly engaged in their own duel.
At the final windward mark, Robert led with Paul closing to within a boat length.
On the final downwind leg, the race and event winner was still to be chosen. As Robert and Paul fought to outwit each other, the Dart 18 joined the fray on the same piece of water. Paul was first to break to the finish, but almost forgot to head for the spreader mark. Quickly realising he adjusted to the extra mark and rounded first and ‘Sprinted’ across the line first to bag the meeting with Robert coming home a very close second. Andy rounded the spreader mark just ahead of Steve and looked to have third until Steve spotting some pressure, decided to crack off a few degrees and powered through Andy’s lee to bag third by the narrowest of margins.
Coming ashore, the club was busy building up to the Barts Bash whilst the race team and catamaran handicap fleet were still out on the water completing a 6th race.
Robert swapped his rig for a ** and was last seen heading back out to join the Barts Bash. The clubhouse was virtually deserted with a substantial turnout now on the water. With no sign of the Northern trophy, the day fizzled out without any formal presentations.
It can only be presumed that the poor turnout was down to many prospective travellers commiting to support the Barts bash at home clubs.
Full Series Results available here