So the DF95 circus rolled into the car park at Furzton Lake in Milton Keynes on Friday afternoon and were greeted by some great breeze, sunny skies and the promise of some superb racing over the weekend.
After a good amount of boat tuning and some informal racing it was time for the Friday night debrief in the pub which is just a stone’s throw from the lake. Some food was eaten, some drink was taken and folks took the time to catch-up on the last couple of months since we all last met up and did similar!
Saturday morning arrived and with the race team at the lakeside and the competitors sort of well rested the 0945 briefing took place and under the guidance of PRO Mike Kemp the racing got underway with the two seeding heats to decide the initial A & B fleets for the mornings racing.
Solid B rig conditions looked like being the order of the day and it was no surprise that John Tushingham and Mike Weston took the two wins in the seeding heats and with both fleets decided the racing proper began, JT took races 2 and 3 followed by Buzz Coleman and Mike Weston with Ken Binks and Derek Priestley not too far behind.
A win for Derek in race 4 meant JT took a second place finish, one of just a handful that he would count. Tim Long was awarded redress for a final leg incident which demoted him to B fleet for race 5 which he promptly won followed quite quickly by the A fleet heat as Tim and Derek opted to stay with the B rig whilst others changed down to C only for the breeze to drop, shift a little, get up again then drop out on certain parts of the course.
This was the way of the day with some big breeze on parts of the course and just when you thought you’d got the measure of it the breeze would just leave you in a big hole, spin through 90 – 180 degrees and pipe up once more. The leeward gate was a particular problem for this and there were quite a few places to be gained or lost by making the correct, or incorrect, choice in this area.
Even JT had the odd head scratching moment at this end of things but at the end of day one he hadn’t taken his foot off the gas and he had taken top spot in all the days remaining races to head off to the pub in a commanding top spot.
Derek had had a good day at the mill and despite a couple of hiccups towards the end of the day he went into the evening social in second spot. Third through fifth were tightly bunched with Buzz Ken and Mike all within a couple of points of each other. Further down the fleet of 37 boats the places were similarly tight with several groups of skippers within just a couple of points.
Saturday social was well received with several skippers enjoying some fine Gin to celebrate National Gin Day. Lots more useful catch-up and drinking was followed by some rest and another days racing.
Sunday didn’t initially look quite so breezy and the wind had shifted a little overnight which meant a bit of a course change was required before the 0945 briefing and some brave skippers took to the water with an A rig, seeking an advantage, which they rapidly changed for the 12th race as the wind had re appeared on parts of the course whilst still being so very absent on other parts meaning that B rig was once again the choice of the day.
JT took race 11 with Derek second and Buzz in third, Mike took race 12 with on form skippers Peter Baldwin and Chris More making a visit to the podium spots. JT was back on form for 13 with our only overseas skipper Tjakko in second and Ken in third.
Race fourteen saw several of the top skippers take a discard as JT had battery issues and Derek was somewhat off the pace finishing tenth. The race win was taken by Nigel Brown from Ken with Peter Baldwin rounding out the top three.
Fifteen and sixteen saw two Fleetwood members taking wins, Derek in one and class newcomer Shaun Holbeche taking the other. JT recovered the next two with Derek taking 19 and Ken rounding off the Championship with a win in 20. Tjakko and Shaun found good form in the final two races, both taking a second place finish with JT taking the third spot both times.
The final tally saw JT take another convincing win to be crowned UK National Champion 2017 with Derek taking the second step some way behind with Ken taking third and Mike Weston in fourth less than a handful of points behind. John Brierley took fifth spot by just a single point from Buzz in sixth. 7th and 8th were again separated by just a single point with Phil Playle ahead of Tjakko. Another handful of points covered 9th, Nigel, and 10th, Peter.
Some bigger gaps covered the next few spots but even down the field you could easily have thrown a blanket over 26th to 29th and other battles, proving that even though the scores are higher, the racing is genuinely just as tight throughout the field meaning that every race counts and positions changed right down to the last race.
In the end everyone went away with big smiles, some went away with sunburn and I went away with an ice cream which was just fine by me. The race team at two Islands RYC did a sterling job under the guidance of PRO Mike Kemp and from all the skippers we owe you all great thanks for giving up your weekend to help with the running of the event. Mike Ewart especially who was kept busy with the rescue boat, both moving marks and rescuing tangled boats!
Sue Brown was on hand with her excellent photography skills and she has a great album which is online now and you can take a look at the 240 odd photos by clicking here
The next stop on the 2017 tour is Dartmoor at the end of July and we’ll have details online as soon as we have them available.
Report by Tim Long, photo’s by Sue Brown