Blue skies and light winds were the order of the legendary Lark Winters hosted by Northampton Sailing Club with 28 boats in attendance.
Race one started with the pin end favouring those heading off to the left. As the first few boats rounded it was Mike and Liz Senior, Matt Stearn/Adam Owens and Alan Krailing/Tim Linsell that lead the top bunch. The first triangle was quite uneventful. By the second beat Krailing/Linsell momentarily popped out in front only to lose out downwind. By the third beat Stern/Owen had pulled back through with the Seniors close behind. These positions held until the finish.
Race two saw the emergence of the black flag. This caught many out namely Krailing/Linsell and the Seniors. It was Stuart and Nick Hydon who rounded first with Nick and Ruth Marlow, Charlie Roome/David Marlow in the chase. The Hydons extended their lead with Stearn/Owens coming from no-where to take second from Roome/Marlow.
The third race of the day saw the black flag out again taking Roome/Marlow and Steve Cumley/Lucy Evans. Harry Pynn/Gemma Cook lead the way with Pete Mitchell/Karen Falcon with Krailing/Linsell, the Hydons and Stern/Owens in the leading bunch. Places where changing with every beat and run, as the fickle conditions proved difficult to predict. The Hydons led at the top of the last lap but gybed out left letting Krailing/Linsell take the lead with Pynn/Cook, Stearn/Owens and Mitchell/Falcon rounding ahead of them. Pynn/Cook and Mitchell/Falcon appeared to have an advantage by going left of middle but lost the breeze when trying to come across on Starboard to the finish. This allowed Stearn/Owens to pass to windward and take the lead from Krailing/Linsell at the line, with the Hydons pulling up to third ahead of Pynn/Cook and Mitchell/Falcon.
It was Stearn/Owens that went into the evening’s party as overnight leaders with an impressive set of results. The Larks enjoyed their black tie dinner followed by live band in familiar style, with John Crooks awarding the infamous Duckams award (for the greatest under-achievement of the day) to Pete Mitchell for losing his car keys in the reservoir as he came along side the pontoon between races.
Sunday revealed blue skies, ice in the boats and a few sore heads. After a short postponement the racing began. It was the Hydons that broke free with Ed Bradurn/Lucy Evans (the other!) that managed to capitalise on the wind shifts ahead of Krailing/Linsell and Stearn/Owens.
Going into the final race it was between the Hydons and Stearn/Owens. A big wind shift saw Stearn/Owens pull into the lead ahead of the Hydons. The second leg of the triangle went to a dead run. Most decided to sail to the left of lay line whilst Tim Vick and Rebecca Marks went right and sailed around the fleet by the leeward mark. Carnage took place trying to round the mark with the rest of the fleet with Stearn/Owens slipping back into double figures. The Hydons managed to round in sixth and headed right up the next beat picking up to second by the top mark just ahead of Nick and Ruth Marlow. Vick/Marks rounded the final mark ahead of the Hydons, but tacked early and stopped. By the finish the Hydons had pulled ahead by half a boat length giving them the Winter Championships title.
A massive thanks goes to Northampton Sailing Club for hosting such a professional and friendly events and to Harken UK who continue to support the Lark Class at this massive fixture in their calendar.
Full results can be found on the Northampton website
A complete album of fantastic photos from the weekend can be found on Chunky Pics website
1st Stuart and Nick Hydon Shustoke SC
2nd Matt Stearn and Adam Owens Waldringfield SC
3rd Alan Krailing and Tim Linsell Waldringfield SC
1st Nick and Ruth Marlow Attenborough SC
1st Kevin Rose Kian Andrews Shustoke SC / Penzance SC