32 and rising! – Stewartby kicks the Winter TT series into action
An excellent turnout of 32 boats consisting of 20 visiting boats and 12 home boats made for an exciting start to the Winter TT series. Stewartby Water Sports Club saw an increase in both its home and visiting boats by nearly 30% - indicative of the commitment and enthusiasm that exists both within the club and the class itself. The damp and misty conditions gave way to a light North-westerly breeze and, at the briefing, race officer Simon Witham explained the course with each of the marks rounding to starboard so as to make the best of the windier side of the lake.
The start of the first race saw a clean start form the entire fleet with the boats of Stuart Snell, Howard Hawkes and Steve Sawford breaking away from the fleet following a somewhat interesting approach to the first windward mark. The coming together of two streams of port and starboard boats resulted in some intimate roundings (with local Simon Miles astride the inflatable mark on lap 1) and those that chose to steer clear and take the mark wide generally benefited. Ultimately Snell took the honours with Hawkes and Sawford finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively
A little too much starboard bias on the line in race 2 led to quite a gathering around the committee boat and once again thanks to a large dose of common sense the entire fleet started cleanly. The leading boats held starboard tack whilst others were forced to tack into clear air only to be greeted by a number of unpredictable shifts. The long run from marks 2 to 3 saw some tactical thinking with several boats gaining positions by choosing to take a wide course to the leeward mark. Gaining clear air was the order of the day. Snell again took 1st place with the home boat of Simon Miles taking 2nd.. The closely contested battle for 3rd and 4th between Hawkes and Mark Aldridge.
Ultimately it was consistency that won the day, with the two 1st places of Stuart Snell (Grafham Water SC) clinching victory over Howard Hawkes (Thorpe Bay YC). 3rd 4th and 5th places were again hotly contested with last year's winner Peter Slater (Draycote SC) taking 3rd position ahead of the first Stewartby boat of Mark Norman 4th and Mark Aldridge (Grafham Water SC) 5th. The battle for 4th resulted in a tie break situation between Norman and Aldridge, both on 11 points, which eventually resulted in Norman's favour.
It was great to see a number of new names appearing especially those of David and Jonathan Lee (Datchet Water SC) participating in their first event in the two-up format.
The wonderful curry served by the galley staff served as an excellent chance to socialise and discuss the day's action and finally the customary liquid prizes meant that nobody went away empty handed – Surely a recipe for success!
Full Series Results available here