Luckily, the blizzards that were forecasted, never materialised for the now legendary Lark Winter Champs at Northampton Sailing Club, but 39 boats did arrive for the challenge.
National Champions, Chris Fish and Beth Condie, determined not to miss the start of Race 1 for the 4th year running, showed great speed as they disappeared into what looked like an unassailable lead. Steve Hall and Simon Haighton had other ideas though, and picked their way through the fleet, getting on the right side of the shift up the final beat to snatch first with Chris and Beth in 2nd and Smashie Bennett and Nicola Booth 3rd.
Winner in 2006 & 2007, Alan Krailing was missing his usual crew Edd McArdle and had his wife, Helen, standing in. They suffered a capsize in race one so the pressure was on for Race 2, which they went on to win after a close battle with last 2007 National Champions, Steve Cumley and Eluned Jones. Both boats managed to get a good lead on the rest of the fleet, with Stephen and Chris Videlo coming in third and Harry Pynn and Dave Chisholm 4th.
The Krailing’s were at the front again in Race 3, but were never comfortable with the fleet bunched up tight in shifty conditions. Emma Harris and Becky Priest almost broke through right at the end of the final beat, but missed out on first by millimetres with Harry and Dave rounding off a consistent day with a third.
Saturday night’s end of season party was, of course, great, thanks to the considerable efforts of Andy Cox and John Crooks setting up the party and Ally Dart and Simon Cox organising and presenting the prize giving. The Belle Isle Travellers series was won by Emma Harris and Becky Priest with the inaugural Crews’ Travellers series going to Eluned Jones. Then the dancing started and a good night was had by all.
Sunday was very wet and very cold and there were a lot of less-than-impressed sailors watching the Race Officer setting the course and realising that a 10.30 start meant he would be starting at 10.30 in proper winter conditions. The Race Officer obviously knew something we did not as, by the time we reached the start line, the rain had cleared and the sun was shining and no one was quite sure why they had put on so many fleeces.
Emma Harris and Becky Priest managed to get ahead and stay there to take Race 4. Alan and Helen Krailing put up a good fight but had to settle for 2nd with Harry and Dave adding a 3rd to their series.
The last race was going to be close and the boats that started at, what looked like the favoured pin end, were soon disappointed as the wind shifted yet again and the fleet lifted inside them. Emma and Becky were early leaders with Chris and Beth, Smashie and Nicola and the Videlos close on their heels. Alan and Helen were down in the teens and not where they wanted to be. Holly Hewat and Alison Dart, Dan Watson and Harri Condie and Matthew White and Harriet Steer were all having a good race chasing the leaders. The Krailing’s, however, managed to climb through the fleet and took some good shifts on the 2nd beat to come through the fleet and take first place and the Winter Championship title. The Videlos found a huge shift on the last beat to take 5 boats and finish second pushing Emma and Becky into 3rd for the race but their second place overall was safe.
The class would like to thank Northampton Sailing Club for another excellent event and Allen for their generous sponsorship.
1st Alan and Helen Krailing 5 pts
2nd Emma Harris and Becky Priest 12 pts
3rd Stephen and Chris Videlo 14 pts
4th Harry Pynn and Dave Chisholm 15 pts
5th Christopher Fish and Beth Condie 20 pts
1st Holly Hewat and Alison Dart
1st Darren Padro