GJW Direct Belle Isle Event at Netley - Report

Charlie Roome - 16th June 2014

Last weekend saw the inaugural Lark and Scorpion open at Netley, the latest growing Lark stronghold. 5 local boats were joined by a strong visiting contingent to outnumber the Scorpion fleet who joined in the fun.

Both days provided similar conditions – warm, sunny, with a shifty force 1-3 blowing off the Netley shore. Thanks must go to the Netley raceteam who packed in the races on each day with minimal fuss given the tricky breezes.

Day 1 started with a strong port end bias, and Charlie Roome/Claire Walsh and Chris & Katherine Martin got away best, working their way up the left hand of the beat. Roome/Walsh held on to win from locals James Stewart/Millie Parsons, with the fast chasing Steve Hall/Ally Dart just behind.

Hall/Dart then found an extra gear to negotiate the tricky conditions of the next two races to post a pair of bullets and lead overnight, with Roome/Walsh, Nigel Hufton/Will Kennedy and Stewart/Parsons forming a closely knit bunch behind ready to pounce. It was great to see a mixture of new faces at their first Lark open combined with some who might rather not admit to how many Lark opens they’ve done or how long ago since they did their first!

Saturday evening had all the ingredients that an opening can possibly want – who can claim to have been to an open that has cream tea, pimms, BBQ, a stag do and a winning start to an England World Cup campaign (ok sorry maybe I’d had one too many beers by then, but the first 4 items were true!) in one evening?

The sore heads were soon put to one side as the fleet set out for another shifty day’s racing on the Costa del Southampton Water. Overnight leaders Hall/Dart had an uncharacteristically slow start as Stewart/Parsons took advantage ahead of Holly Hewat/Karen Falcon who showed they’ve got the pace to be reckoned with this year.

Race 5 presented a tricky port biased line, and Chris Catt/Ian Martin got it right to perfection, and did a horizon job on the fleet. The race in the chasing pack was just won by Roome/Walsh after they escaped down the final run, with the next 10 boats finishing within about 30 seconds.

Going into the final race no one knew where the points stood, but Roome/Walsh and Hall/Dart escaped from the fleet to have a private duel up front, which Hall/Dart lead for only 50 metres, but those were the ones that mattered! The stag himself, Tim Vick sailing with Rebecca Marks somehow posted better Sunday than Saturday results, finished with a credible third.

As the fleet got in the results became clear – Roome/Walsh had managed to string together the consistent series needed to win, with Hall/Dart just pipping Stewart/Parsons for third on countback.

Thanks to Netley Sailing Club for a great event – next up Royal Harwich on 28th/29th June.

Results: http://www.raceman.info/nsc/rm.php?command=public and follow the links.

Pictures on the facebook page.