© Charlotte Dart© Charlotte Dart© Charlotte Dart

Rock Open Meeting Report

Chris Whitehouse - 10th May 2010

"Ah, there's nothing quite like that first pint of Doom!" was all that was on the minds, and lips, of the 54 Lark sailors as they arrived in Rock, Cornwall - just in time for last orders at the bar.

Despite the previously gloomy forecast, the competitors were in for a treat. Whilst the rest of the country spent the first May bank holiday weekend sheltering from downpours, the Camel Estuary served up champagne sailing conditions.

The first race of the open meeting kicked off with Chris Holliman and Kate Hutchins as pathfinders - opening the gate for the fleet to make their way up to the windward mark in a light F2 but, with the course set outside the Doom Bar, in a lumpy sea state.

Nigel Hufton and Andy Douglas were quickest out of the gate. However, the excitement was a little too much for Nigel, who treated the sailors to his finest backward double pike dive over the side of the boat, and into the water, whilst port tacking the entire fleet. He claimed his toestrap broke...

Chris Whitehouse and Chris Robinson made the best of the tricky conditions to lead the fleet round, but were pushed all the way by Stuart Hydon and Ryan Padro who found some extra speed as the wind dropped. Nigel recovered well from his earlier mishap to take third.

Nigel also went on to take the bullet in the second race of the day held in similarly light and lumpy conditions. Again, Stuart and Ryan were second with Stuart and Julia Allen – revelling in the conditions – coming in third.

Saturday night saw everyone enjoying the ‘formal’ meal with Si Haighton again winning, the now traditional, ‘eat dessert with your face’ race. Sunday morning dawned sunny, but windy – very windy – and VERY lumpy...

The race officer, Martin Huff, deemed discretion to be the better part of valour and postponed racing until 5pm. This gave the Larks time to enjoy a day trip to Padstow, where May Day celebrations were complemented with a spot of shopping and some fish and chips by the harbour side. Very civilised, until...

Launching into the relative calm of the estuary, the waves and wind grew as the fleet sailed out over the Doom Bar... to be presented with huge walls of water. This time there was to be no let off. Martin set the fleet away with Ross Kearny and Ally Dart as pathfinders. To stem the adverse tide the choice was simple; head over to the breaking waves and rocks on the right, or to the sheer cliffs on the left, urm...

In the event, the choice was even, with Steve Hall and Si Haighton leading in from the right and Jane Alexander and Rachel Rhodes, in second, from the left. The race saw many a thrill and plenty of spills, but ultimately it was the steady hands, and heads, of Harry Pynn and M.J. Gifford who took the spoils in what was deemed by many an “epic” race.

Going into the final day, all was still to play for. This time sailing in the Estuary, the bright and breezy conditions were ideal for final showdown. With Dougal and Helen Scott as pathfinders, the Larks got away into a shifty F4. Whilst the whole fleet were enjoying the fast and wet racing, it was the front three who pulled out from the pack.

Steve & Si, Harry & M.J, and Chris & Chris were locked in an incredibly tight three-way duel at the front of the fleet. Steve & Si just sneaking past Harry & M.J who in turn were only seconds ahead of Chris & Chris. With each of the three boats still in contention, and within a point of each other, the stage was perfectly set for the final race.

Holly Hewitt and Ruth Johnson lead round the first mark – having consolidated their pathfinder’s prerogative - hotly pursued by the three contenders for overall honours. Four laps of tight racing ensued, with the lead changing hands regularly. On the final lap, Chris & Chris took a shift on the right of the course and were able to seize the initiative, and ultimately the race and the event. A great time was had by all competitors, and the Larks would like to extend their thanks to Rock Sailing & Waterski Club for hosting us, and to Martin Huff and his family for running the fantastic racing.