GJW Direct Belle Isle Event at Lyme Regis - Report

Ruth Johnson - 06th August 2014

The forecast during the week before the Lyme Regis SC Regatta varied from zero knots on one day to torrential rain and storms all day on another. Ten hardy larks still made the trip and were well rewarded. The fleet arrived to blue skies, great onshore breeze and huge waves. Three races were planned for the Saturday and the larks got their own start in the sequence. You would think that a line that catered for a handicap fleet would be plenty for a lark fleet, but at least 30% of the fleet failed to make it round the pin first time in the first race! The racing was tight even when the breeze built to 25 kts with a proportionate wave-size increase in the second race, although this did lead to a few swimming lessons for some. The last race was another blast until the end of the run when it appeared that race officer Tim Parsons was standing on the committee boat with a switch, turning the wind off and on with huge swings. He luckily got bored of that and the last lap was back to normal.
Steve Cumley and Lucy Evans showed blistering all round speed to lead overnight from Pete Gray/Rach Rhodes and Chris Holliman/Kate Hutchins. The next 4 boats were only separated by 3 points showing just how close the racing was.
The fleet retired to the shore exhausted, but beaming after a fabulous day to find that the club put on the most enormous BBQ to replenish the calories.
Sunday dawned much of the same and the fleet set off a little tired from the day before. The first race was a bit of a hike fest with Adam Parry and Ruth Johnson finding the go-button, rounding first. However, they were overhauled downwind with Holliman/Hutchins doing a horizon job to take the win. The second race of the day was a non-discardable Championship race - a handicap race with all 47 boats in the regatta. The fleet ranged from a European Champion I14 to big cruisers. This race had the potential to really mix up the results for our fleet. Gray/Rhodes showed off their sneaky winter handicap race practice to lead the larks round the first mark and went on to take 3rd overall after an I14 and a Merlin. The larks behind them showed the high calibre of the fleet with 5 larks in the top ten on handicap and all of the fleet in the top half. These results meant that Gray/Rhodes took the event from Cumley/Evans and Holliman/Hutchins with Parry/Johnson taking 4th on countback from James Stewart/Millie Parsons.
A huge thanks to Lyme Regis for an awesome event - the fleet all agreed the weekend gave us the best conditions we had encountered in years and the event was excellently run. Can we come back next year please?
Next up is the Nationals in Penzance starting on 16th August.