This annual challenge took place the following week to the Lark Nationals at Teignmouth. Unfortunately only Chris Ellis (L2469) made the onward journey but he met up with Tony & Brenda Hotchkiss (L2468) who always add at least one other Lark to the handicap fleet.
This year we had one other Lark of Ed & Geoff Hunt from Deben SC to make a fleet of 22 assorted boats with a maximum PY of 1073, making the Lark the slowest boat of the fleet! However, after the 1st race, a win by Chris Ellis & Natalie Hawes, certainly laid down the challenge for the other classes.
After the pleasant but light wind of Sunday, the Northerly wind on Monday meant a beat inland. Although several boats pulled away the fickle winds and sunshine created something of a sea breeze and this rather bunched the fleet. This allowed Tony & Brenda Hotchkiss to nip past Chris & Natalie by selecting the town side of the estuary where there was more wind. Unfortunately the faster boats had missed some of the dead patches and a 7th & 8th was only possible for the two leading Larks.
A better breeze on Tuesday gave Chris & Natalie another strong race to finish 3rd and stand on top of the leader board thanks to an OCS by the Finn. More breeze on Wednesday tempted the race committee to send the fleet out to sea (a very unusual event!). With very strong gusts and then areas of no wind, those that crept through the dead patches were always likely to be uncatchable. The Scorpion broke away early on and won quite easily. The Merlins and RS 400ís managed to build a decent lead over the two front running Larks, who after a tiring but exhilarating sail could only manage 7th & 8th.
By Thursday the wind had again dropped and a game of cat & mouse went on for the whole race. Many boats kept swapping places including the two Larks, but in the end L2469 got the better of L2468 to finish one place ahead in 5th.
Friday dawned wet and miserable with a few participants not fancying the strong breeze forecast! Although plenty of wind it was still rather variable so it could catch the unwary. The Finn & leading Merlin relished the conditions to finish in that order with the leading RS400 and another two Merlins and the Scorpion following them home. A capsize just before the finish by L2469 did not spoil their comfortable 3rd overall after the week, counting a 1st; 3rd; 5th;7th & 8th.
It was a week of mixed fortunes and the winning Merlin achieved the result without a single race win! However, four 2nds and two 4ths (one being a discard) was a solid series and only the Finn came close with two wins a 2nd, 5th & 6th to count.
The weather could have been better but as ever the sailing proved challenging, exciting and unpredictable. You can be sure at least two Larks will be planning to return for another battle next year! Please come and join us. The more Larks the merrier!