Light winds and fog met the whopping 47-strong Lark fleet on Saturday morning at Pitsford Reservoir. Three races were scheduled for the first day of Championships and, with the northerly wind, race officer Ian Castle, was able to set a good long beat and figure of eight course to start the fleet off.
Holly Hewat and Ruth Johnson, sporting their new suit of sails, flew into the lead and never looked back in the first race. Pursuing were Steve and Nikki Cumley and Smashie Bennett/Nicola Booth. With so much tight reaching, the corners and the upwind legs became the only overtaking opportunities and these three took full advantage to hold their positions to the line - with whoops of joy from the girls!
Changing the course for the next two races to an Olympic course improved the chances of competitive racing. Still with a F1-2, Shustoke sailors Stuart and Nic Hydon stamped their authority on the event by taking both afternoon races, the first by some considerable margin. Also, with fantastic consistency considering the strength of the field, the Cumleys took another second and the Smashie team, another 3rd. Race 3, however, saw National Champions Harry Pynn/MJ Gifford and Emma Harris/Becky Priest finding their form and finishing in 2nd and 3rd respectively.
Overnight, the top three looked to be sitting pretty, with the Hydons with two 1sts, the Cumleys with 2x 2nds and the Smashie team with 2x 3rds. Other teams’ results were a little inconsistent and wayward!
The annual Laying Down Supper and Belle Isle Travellers circuit prize giving, held in the sailing club on Saturday night had to be one of the best ever. Great food, great company, great speeches, a tremendous Duckham prize winner(!) and lots of prizes; a fantastic band who managed to get all, except those few determined to hang onto the bar, onto the dance floor, using up their over-supply of energy from the days racing in light winds...
…suffice to say, there were many a sore head on Sunday morning and, with a 10 o’clock start scheduled, a few boats left it late to get to the startline. The sore heads didn’t seem too good at starting either, with the race officer having to use the black flag to keep the large fleet under control.
In a better breeze than the first day, a good F3 still from the north, and keeping with the Olympic courses, the racing was spot on. Harris/Priest had a little tussle with new Lark sailors Charlie Roome/Tom Castle, before surging into the lead and keeping it to the finish. Chris and Ann Biglin sailed a blinder and came in 3rd. The three boats who had been in the top spots overnight had however struggled, leaving the event wide open going into the last race. After several false starts, Harris/Priest rounded first again and, although threatened by Steve Hall/Simon Haighton and Roome/Castle, managed to hold on to the lead, taking the overall title by three points from the Hydons, who had not quite managed to show the same form as the previous day.
The three top placed Silver Fleet teams had a tight battle, finishing only 2 places apart in 16th, 18th and 20th; Adrian Padro/Hannah Hydon, Ed Grey/Stevie Graham and Chris White/Richard Booth. First and second in The Bronze Fleet were only separated by 1 point with Eleanor Davies/Alison Norbury finished 31st and Eluned Steward/Millie Parsons 32nd. Robert and Ruth Marlow finished 3rd Bronze fleet team.
47 Larks from 18 different clubs took part, with 7 lady helms and 33 lady crews. Waldringfield SC boasted 5 of the top 10 places, with South Staffs having the greatest number of participants.
Sponsors, Harken UK, donated some fantastic prizeware for which the Lark fleet, especially the winning participants, were very grateful. This was the 8th consecutive Lark Winter Championships run by Northampton SC and thanks must go the club for their ongoing commitment and unwaveringly cheerful hospitality. A absolutely fantastic weekend was had by all!
Chunky Pics Photos of the sailing can be found HERE
Overall and Gold Fleet:
1st Emma Harris/Becky Priest, 9 pts, Waldringfield SC/Cotswold SC
2nd Stuart and Nic Hydon, 12pts, Shustoke SC
3rd Smashie Bennett/Nicola Booth, 17pts, Staunton Harold SC
4th Steve Hall/Simon Haighton, 23pts, Northampton SC
5th Steve and Nicky Cumley, 27pts, Barnt Green SC
6th Stephen and Christopher Videlo, 32pts, Waldringfield SC
1st Adrian Padro/Hannah Hydon, 16th Overall, 59 pts, Shustoke SC
2nd Edward Grey/Steve Graham, 18th Overall, 66 pts, RWYC/Northampton SC
3rd Chris White/Richard Booth, 20th Overall, 71 pts, South Staffs SC
1st Eleanor Davies/Alison Norbury, 31st Overall, 111 pts, South Staffs SC
2nd Eluned Steward/Millie Parsons, 32nd Overall, 112 pts, Weston SC
3rd Robert and Ruth Marlow, 43rd Overall, 147pts, Attenborough SC