A sense of déjà vu greeted the Larks as they arrived for the Inland Championships on 26/27 September, sponsored by Helly Hansen and GJW Direct. It felt like the 2014 Inlands all over again, as we peered over the dam and into a concrete bowl in London – this time at Datchet Water (not King George VI, as last year).
However, the confidence of the race officer was borne out, as we launched and were sent right down the lake. The wind regularly swung through 40-50 degrees and varied from Force 2-3. This kept it interesting and tactical - albeit more like snakes and ladders for those who didn’t constantly watch the progress of ex-Lark National Champion Mike McNamara and sometime lark sailor Jamie Lea, who were competing in the Wayfarer Inlands starting 5 minutes ahead!
In race 1, Hufton/Kennedy led around the first mark, only to be overtaken by Whitehouse/Haighton near the leeward mark. However, with Hufton/Kennedy spotting a shift to the left approaching, they banged left and quickly regained first - holding it to the finish, with Holliman/Hutchins third.
This rather set the tone for the next 2 races with Hufton/Kennedy showing good speed and getting the better of the shifts, again followed in by Whitehouse/Haighton - although in Race 3, the Denchfields were clearly enjoying their favourite conditions to post third.
Sunday dawned with slightly more wind and the occasional black cloud pulling the wind to the right and putting the emphasis on cloud-watching (to make a change from watching the holidaymakers flying over into Heathrow).
In Race 4, Hufton/Kennedy again led all round, but in Race 5, a bad start and being buried on the second reach led to them being nearly last. Never ones to give up, they picked their way through the fleet and - with the help of some large shifts and outrageous corner-banging - sailed themselves back to the front to win the event.
In race 6, a great start from Whitehouse/Haighton put them in pole position and they were never overtaken, leaving them as runners-up overall, despite some hard chasing by Holiman/Hutchins.
Results (6 races, 2 discards)
1st 2470 FPSC Nigel Hufton Will Kennedy 4 points
2nd 2411 Ranelagh Chris Whitehouse Simon Haighton 7
3rd 2475 Tewkesbury Chris Holliman Kate Hutchins 10
4th 2459 Stewartby Nigel Denchfield Fiona Denchfield 17
5th 2527 Netley Holly Hewat Ruth Johnson 18
6th 2502 Netley Steve Chatten Fiona Gray 20
The Great 8 results have been updated to include the Inlands. Nigel and Will lead from Chris and Kate. Great 8 Results