© © Daniel Watson© Daniel Watson

2011 Harken Winter Championships Preview

Michael John Gifford - 06th October 2012

It is difficult to know where to start when trying to entice poor innocent dinghy sailors to the Lark Winter Championships. I could wax lyrical about the quality of the racing, hold forth on the friendliness of Northampton Sailing Club or tell unlikely yet true stories about the legendary dinner and seasonís prize giving. In truth to do this event justice it is necessary to extol the virtues of all three whilst providing some tips on how to survive win the event.

Pitsford Reservoir is without doubt one of the trickiest race venues on the circuit. While it may look like a rather attractive and benign Midlands lake, appearances can be deceiving. Indeed this lake is about as harmless as an Andrex puppy. First you think it is cute and cuddly and then you realise it has dragged toilet paper all over your flat. Pitsford, looks pleasant and straight-forward before messing with your head. Both sides will pay on one leg and then the middle pays on the next and worse of all there is no discernable rhyme or reason to what has happened.

The club is somewhat different and not at all like a golden labrador. From when you first walk in until the moment when you are poured into a taxi on the Saturday night it could not be better. The food is great and the beer is top-notch. It is not however the culinary delights that really make this place spectacular, more the friendliness with which the club allows the fleet to relax and let their hair down.

When it comes to letting your hair down, the party on the Saturday night at the Winters is truly one of the best Lark socials of the year. It is black-tie and so everybody will be looking properly glamorous as they eat, drink and make very merry. Once the Belle Isle prizes are awarded it is traditional for the Silver fleet trophy to be filled with something toxic and those class members who havenít caught any diseases from each other have one final chance. If you survive that part of the evening and havenít been too heavily molested on the dance-floor then there is always the after-party in the hotel bar.

Finally to the tips Ė Stay well clear of the rafts at the gybe mark, stay well clear of anybody offering drinks from a large silver trophy and stay well clear of the hotel hot-tub!