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DF95 debut at Blithfield SC, race report & pictures.

Saturday 18th Feb 2023 saw the first ever MYA RC Open Event at Blithfield Sailing Club. This open water is the largest reservoir in Staffordshire and is well known for hosting full scale events, but not those for the RC community. A newly-formed RC section of only 7 members hoped for some 15 entries, but were delighted to actually have 31 entrants from Eastbourne to Fleetwood and many places in between – thanks to the preparation and publicity support by the Manor Park and Regional MYA team.

The day dawned somewhat dismally with the tail of Storm Otto still dragging 30 knot gusts and light rain from the South West – which gives the longest the biggest waves for Blithfield. None of this was a damper for the 28 skippers who turned up and declared unfettered enthusiasm for the conditions. A windward-leeward course was laid and following a boost with tea, coffee and toast, the racing was underway on time. As the day progressed, the sun broke through, and the course was modified to compensate for the westerly changes in wind direction and to make it progressively longer – as the 95s were carving through the diminishing waves ever faster.

Using the HMS scoring, 8 races per skipper were completed by 1500 with the wind varying from 26-30 knot gusts down to a background 12 knots with the wave height up and down, matching the wind. Frequent B to C (and back again) rig changes took place though the B rig seemed to predominate. John Tushingham proved to be the master of the conditions with a total score of only 6 points, and was the outright winner with Peter Baldwin and Dave Potter second and third respectively.

Other than a few groundings as some tested the inshore limits, only one boat broke the bond with its skipper and went walkabout. The slick Race Team of Darin, Tracey and Penelope Ballington, with Gordon Sears on the computer, made a complex and occasionally demanding race process seem silky smooth. In the background, the experienced hosting team from Blithfield set out the Clubhouse for rigging and attending to the hospitality. This inaugural event was deemed a great success by the visitors and the home team were grateful for the many positive comments received. We look forward to doing it again!

Alastair Reid, RC Fleet Captain, Blithfield Sailing Club.

(If you would like to see where we were, take a look at the drone footage on the Blithfield SC website here):

Whilst I was busy with race scoring I was chatting to Dennis Birchenhall from the Rudyard Lake SC in the MYA Northern District, and I asked him to put a few thought together on his first visit to an open DF95 event.

“There were two Open Meetings this week.  One was held at Blithfield Sailing Club near Abbotts Bromley and the other was going to held at Southport Sailing Club today.  Unfortunately at Southport, someone had pulled the plug and the water was disappearing very quickly so had to be cancelled.  I, along with Steve Thompson attended the Open Meeting at Blithfield yesterday which was our very first Open Meeting and Blithfields first Open.    We were met by a very friendly group of people and it was good to see a former sailor of ours, Simon Fairman and some MYA members we had met at the MYA AGM.  Blithfield  Sailing Club is situated on is a beautiful reservoir and the club house was nice and warm which made the it very comfortable for the everyone.  The water was so choppy and rough though, and the pontoon was behaving like a bucking bronco when we arrived that I bottled out, worried about losing my boat, but Steve braved the conditions and duly signed in for the day. Although the day started off very cloudy it brightened up very quickly. There were 28 sailors taking part and they were eventually placed into two teams classed as A and B.    I lent Steve my C rig (a smaller rig) which suited the conditions better so managed to make one boat out of two.  Steve did very well and in the first race actually came second round the first mark.  He held his own until the conditions moderated. and a change to a B rig was necessary but this did not suit Steve.  By the second race the course had been changed to suit the changing conditions.  After a couple of hours, the windsurfers were on the reservoir which made for a superb background. After lunch the wind picked up again and some boats actually nose dived.  The wind changed so much during the racing that everyone seemed to be changing sails a lot of the time.  Up to the time I was there Simon had a bearable day and Steve beat him a couple of times.   Steve was sailing so well that he could have been in the bottom of the A team rather than being in the B team.  In the end Steve ended very close behind Simon.    I had to go but hopefully Steve enjoyed the rest of the day.

Gordon Sears from the MYA Midlands District has asked me to let him see my email to get a different take on the day.  Many thanks Gordon for all your advice and also to everyone who was so helpful on the day.  There was also a photographer there and I would also have taken photos but left my camera at home!!!”.

The photographer that Dennis mentioned was Dave Pawlak from the home club and there is a gallery of his work below, thanks Dave.

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