9 visitors joined 14 home boats for the 2012 South Staffs Lark Open. Sailors arrived to lovely sunshine and a pleasant light wind. After a short postponement race 1 got away first time. Rich Bennett and Lara White were quick out of the blocks leading round the first Mark closely followed by Mike Senior and Connie Hicklin, John and Sue Billington and Stuart and Nick Hydon. Mike and Connie managed to pass Rich and Lara on the second beat and then began to build a comfortable lead. A big left hand wind shift on the final lap almost turned the leaders inside out with Stuart and Nick Hydon making a jump up to second place and Chris White and Lucy Evans showing their speed to come back from being over the line to post 3rd.
The start line for race two was hotly contested, with 2 general recalls. The fleet got away on the 3rd attempt under a black flag. First round the windward mark was Stuart and Nick Hydon. The first downwind leg was a run which made it challenging for the leaders with half the fleet opting for a gybe set. The Hydon’s, Rich & Lara and Chris & Lucy manage to safely weave their way down the run and then put significant distance with the rest of the fleet. A little further back Mike and Connie were having a little tussle with Sam Blocksidge and Adrian Walker. Mike and Connie managed to pass Sam and Adrian at the end of lap 2 and finished the race in 4th position. The leading 3 finished with the Hydon’s taking the bullet, Rich and Lara 2nd and Chris and Lucy 3rd.
So, all was set for a final race showdown between the Hydon’s, Mike and Connie and Rich and Lara. Rich and Lara nailed the start and took full advantage of a big left hand shift. Mike and Connie rounded second with the Hydon’s chasing hard. Mike and Connie managed to pass Rich and Lara on the first downwind leg and then begin to build what looked like a comfortable lead. The Hydon’s were not interested in settling for second though and quickly ploughed through the leading bunch and began their chase for the lead. It all came down to the last lap. Mike and Connie and the Hydon’s had by now built a substantial lead on the fleet but the distance between them was now just a few boat lengths. The upwind legs were extremely close with Mike and Connie repeatedly having to put a tight cover on the Hydon’s to maintain their lead. The shortened course flag was displayed half way down the final downwind leg. The Hydon’s made their move and tried to pass Mike and Connie to windward. Mike and Connie then pushed the Hydon’s wide of the leeward mark looking to protect the vital water position going into the final beat. The Hydon’s then gybed just a little too early giving Mike and Connie a straight forward port starboard opportunity. The Hydon’s immediately took their penalty which effectively gave the race win and open to Mike and Connie.
Overall the fleet had a great day racing ending with a beer in the unseasonal like warmth and the usual delicious South Staffs cakes.
1st – Mike Senior and Connie Hicklin, South Staffs SC
2nd – Stuart and Nick Hydon, Shustoke SC
3rd – Rich Bennett and Lara White, South Staffs SC
4th – Chris White and Lucy Evans, South Staffs SC
5th – Nick Marlow and Ruth Marlow, Attenborough SC