Royal Harwich Open Meeting Report

Chris Fish - 13th June 2006

Royal Harwich YC ran its first Lark open meeting over the weekend 10/11 June. The beautiful River Orwell was shown off to best effect to the 14 Larks with unbroken sunshine and high temperatures.

All the races were held slightly down river of the club, just off Pin Mill. On Saturday, races 1 and 2 for the Larks and N12’s were sailed around the same trapezoid course with an outer windward leeward loop, which lead to some interesting inter-fleet tactics. The solid force 3 south-easterly wind meant the runs and beats were conveniently straight up and down the river. Indeed, the only main difference in sailing conditions between all the races was the direction of the tide, flooding for the first races each day before turning and ebbing in the second/third.

In Race 1, Harry Pynn & Millie Parsons lead at the first mark closely followed by Chris & Cathy Fish and Ian Sharpes & Spanni Archer. Alan Krailing & Ed McArdle didn’t make the mistake of gybing straight away at the second mark but instead bore away and carried their pace into second place. By the end of the first of the three laps they had gained the lead and went on to win a match race with Pynn & Parsons, some way ahead of the Fishes in third.

In winning the second race, Nigel Hufton & Christopher Whitehouse hardly made a mistake, leading from very early on. The tide turned during the race, with a huge but subtle eddy across the course providing opportunities to lose & gain a lot of distance. This made it less than plain sailing for Hufton & Whitehouse to defend and Krailing & McArdle once again used superior running speed to catch up. But they couldn’t quite break the overlap at the last mark and were held out to the finish.

The PRO, Graham Ireland, obviously had faith in the weather forecast as he set three different courses well in advance of the launch time on Sunday morning. Fortunately, the forecast was true and another glorious day’s wind F2-3 and unbroken sunshine blessed the Suffolk estuary.

Race 3 was held around a ‘P’ course. The Fishes made a slick start at the pin end and banged the left corner to lead up the first beat. Several boats overlaid but Geoff Mayhew & Kim Lamb didn’t and so rounded in second just ahead of Krailing & McArdle. Pynn & Parsons followed, recovering from a very bad start by using the couple of minor shifts to best advantage. Whilst the Fishes sailed away in clean air the rest had a tougher time with the other classes adding a little extra spice to proceedings. Eventually, Krailing & McArdle broke through and were reeling in the Fishes but ran out of course and had to settle for second. Hufton & Whitehouse seemed to be in the thick of all the close boat-to-boat action all day. They fought both Pynn & Parsons and Dougal & Helen Scott and took fourth between the other two.
The fourth course was a little peculiar with a beat, broad reach on starboard, beat, run, reach and beat making a lap. The race at the front was a true scrap between the top four boats and the National 12 fleet! Up wind the Fishes defended well to keep the others just behind. For once, Hufton & Whitehouse perhaps benefited most from the other fleets and seized an important second place from Pynn & Parsons at the last mark.

Going into the final race only Krailing & McArdle, Fish & Fish and Hufton & Whitehouse could win overall and to do that Krailing & McArdle had to beat the other two and Hufton had to win. Krailing & McArdle and the Fishes made it tough for themselves by returning to the start line but they still had a hope in the strong ebb tide against the wind. The Scott’s rolled Pynn & Parsons at the windward mark of the trapezoid course to lead for a while but when the fleet turned onto the run against the tide it bunched up. This effect let tail-enders Krailing & McArdle, Fish’s and Pynn & Parsons catch up by sailing low in the shallower waters of the northern riverbank. Pynn & Parsons and Hufton & Whitehouse managed to pop out in front on the outer loop and the Fishes pulled the same sailing low trick to gain third place. The only fault to the race management all weekend was not doing something about the course set in the shallows. The lack of water for the last 20 minutes meant Larks were sailed at 45 degrees or raised both foils. Perhaps not surprisingly the Waldringfield Larks were affected less and Jon Crook’s cassette rudder came into its own! A slightly shorter rudder perhaps helped Pynn & Parsons as they once again duelled with Hufton & Whitehouse and then won the closest of last laps. The Scott’s took fourth, ahead of Ben Stone & Jenny Sudell fifth, which was by some way their best result. The Fish’s took third place in the race but with Hufton & Whitehouse not winning it was irrelevant, as the title was already theirs. Second place was decided on last race result and third by best results.

Results 1st 2494 Christopher Fish & Cathy Fish, Waldringfield SC 8pts
2nd 2470 Nigel Hufton & Chris Whitehouse, Frensham Pond SC 9pts
3rd 2464 Alan Krailing & Ed McArdle, Waldringfield SC 9pts
4th 2452 Harry Pynn & Millie Parsons, Waldringfield SC 9pts
5th 2492 Dougal Scott & Helen Scott, Rock SC 19pts
6th 2444 Steve Dunn & Spanni Archer, Waldringfield SC 27pts