Seven Shustoke Larks were joined by seven visitors and increasingly gusty conditions for the penultimate meeting of the 2004 Lark calendar. The wind direction across the reservoir dictated a largely upwind/downwind course and Race Officer Peter Scott’s attempts to achieve a port line bias were largely thwarted by the shifty conditions. He got race 1 away with only an individual recall however, and there was much place changing on the short but interesting beat.
First round the windward mark was the local boat Alfie of Mat Sherlock and Ali Hempsall followed by new Lark Chairman Steve Cumley with Nikki Attwood, showing good speed straight from the box with new ship Nelly. Richard “Smashie” Bennett and Laura Mitchell led the following group of Chris and Ann Biglin, and Will and Dave Croxford.
Mat led for half a lap until the Biglin’s split tacks with the leading group on a windward leg and picked up a shift that took them to the front. The two Shustoke boats then led the way for half the race until a mistake by Mat & Ali dropped Alfie back into the pack. Smashie and Laura in Va Va Voom took up the chase and finished a comfortable second behind the Biglins, with Steve & Nikki in third, and Nick Marlow, sailing with daughter Joanna in Mr Bigglesworth, fourth.
In race two, the windward mark was visited first by local sailors Adrian Padro and Tom Oliver making a guest appearance in ‘Well Dodgy’, closely pursued by Smashie Bennett, Steve Cumley, the Croxfords, Simon Cox and Karen Bowen in Foxxy, and the Biglins. At this point Adrian was wishing he had written down the course but improvised well and worked hard to hold off Smashie & Laura. The Biglins pulled through to third on the second run by sailing low, and were close enough behind the leading pair to take advantage when a windshift caused Adrian to park his boat while trying to shoot a windward mark, luffing Smashie to a halt in the process. The Biglins breathed in and slipped through the gap into the lead followed by Simon & Karen before Smashie managed to get motoring again. Increasingly severe gusts from a variety of directions were doing great things for the membership of the Shustoke swimming club and a strong backer on a dead run caught Simon off guard and left him checking his self bailers from the outside. Smashie powered through and closed the gap on the Biglins but couldn’t get close enough to deprive them of victory. The greatly improved buoyancy of the Rondar Mk2 Lark allowed Simon to recover and finish third ahead of Steve Cumley.
The start of race 3 was won convincingly by Steve Cumley from the port end and Nelly rounded first followed by Foxxy and Va Va Voom. The wind direction continued to defy prediction and the fleet found themselves beating on most legs of the course at some time during the race with many place changes. Five retirements included the Biglins after a collision with a tail ender and Adrian Padro with a sinking feeling after a self bailer problem.
Simon Cox overhauled Steve Cumley and held onto the lead to take the win, Smashie doing likewise to collect a full set of second places. Nick and Joanna Marlow found the reducing wind strength more manageable and stole the third place from Steve & Nikki who brought Nelly home in fourth.
Chris & Ann Biglin had surprised even themselves by convincingly winning the meeting for the home club, and the final race win of Simon Cox & Karen Bowen gave them second overall on tie break from Smashie Bennett & Laura Mitchell. Nick & Joanna Marlow finished fourth. The best capsize was a matter of some debate so the award went to Alan & Clare Ballard for quantity rather than quality.
1st 2488 The Stig Chris & Ann Biglin. Shustoke SC
2nd 2489 Foxxy Simon Cox & Karen Bowen Medway YC
3rd 2487 Va Va Voom Richard Bennett & Laura Mitchell Staunton Harold SC
4th 2462 Mr Bigglesworth Nick & Joanna Marlow Attenborough SC.