Unseen at Datchet!

The Mermaid Open Marblehead event was run by Guildford Model Yacht Club, but was sailed at Datchet because of a weed problem at Abbey Meads. A record 27 boats entered, but only 22 hit the water. However the event nearly didn’t go ahead because of thick fog when competitors arrived. After 2 postponements the fog cleared enough to see a short distance into the lake from the northern car park. Alf Reynolds and Peter Stollery went for a sail to test the wind and there was just enough to keep them moving, so the GMYC race team set the course parallel and close to the bank in the hope of having some form of sailing in a wind that hadn’t made up Its mind and was very light.

PRO, Roger Stollery decided to run the whole fleet of 22, without splitting it into heats as there was a sufficiently wide start line and this worked well and the 3 races ran back-to-back to form the morning’s racing.

In Race 1 the northerly wind was a good direction relating to the course, but progress was slow and the quicker boats were lapping the slower boats. Graham Bantock had a big lead to win from John Smith from Manor Park, both were sailing QUARKs. Race 2, now a single lap, went to Peter Stollery and his UPROAR ‘Inside Edge’, with Graham second and Terry Rensch third.

There was now a 180° change wind direction, beating towards the South. Rob Vice sailing his CRAZY TUBE FREE ‘Eccentricity’ won Race 3 from John, with Peter third. Graham was top of lunchtime leaderboard with 7 points from Peter 10 and Rob 13.

After a short break 3 more races were sailed, but in increasingly difficult conditions because the fog was becoming thicker and it was difficult to see boats at the outer end of the start line. The results of all 3 races were the same with Peter sailing faultlessly to win, Graham 2nd and Rob 3rd, with the exception of John Smith getting 3rd place in Race 6. As the fog was closing in all competitors agreed to stop racing and not continue to the end of the sailing time in the Notice of Race.

After one of the races Peter was asked how he did it be said that “today the left thumb is just as important as the right thumb”. This was reference to watching the wind indicator in making sure that the sails were at the right angle to the wind.

At the prizegiving, Peter thanked Roger and the Guildford race team for running the event in difficult circumstances and promised to come back and run the event next year. The Vic Cooney Trophy for the first over sixty competitor went to Graham Bantock and the best improver from the first 3 race place positions went to Phil Holliday, who finished the event 7th.

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Picture page can be seen HERE

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