Gary Deighan Reports…
Warm sunshine, a good breeze and some quality racing had been ordered for the Bolton Open however with the incessant rain that had besieged the North West for most of the summer so far, the chance of it happening seemed remote to say the least. But happen it did, and there were many surprised faces as sunshine greeted 8 travelling and 5 club GP14 crews to Bolton for the 7th event in the Omega Sails sponsored 2012 Northern Bell Series.
A nice force 3 up the length of the lake looked to have made Andrew Craig and his OOD team’s job a little easier with the favourable direction however it flicked around enough to give him a few headaches when setting the courses.
Race one kicked off with a clean start at the first time of asking, which turned out to be a feature of all three races. Richard Bennett and Sarah Froggatt made the best of the first beat and lead at the top mark, however as the downwind legs took the boats around the back of the island, Mike Senior and Connie Hicklin were able to take the lead and with it complete charge of the first race. Behind the leaders places changed on each leg with Neil Platt and Derek hill climbing into second spot and Bill Kenyon and Ben Ditchburn sailing solidly for 3rd.
Lunch followed the first race and with both the sunshine and the breeze continuing everyone was keen to get out for the 2nd race. It was Neil and Derek that prospered up the first beat this time and they held Mike and Connie off to round first and from there build a commanding lead. Once again battle royal raged behind for the places and it was during one such fight that the day’s comedy moment occurred as the toe straps in Gary Deighan and Alan Woods’ boat snapped simultaneously dispatching both crew and helm over the side in a perfect synchronised dive formation, watch your back Tom Daley.
With the lead established by Neil and Derek, Mike and Connie in 2nd and Peter Jacques and Peter Tate comfortable in 3rd, it was the next few places that provided the entertainment for those on shore. 4th down to 7th all finished within inches of each other with the race team having to pick out how the places came in on the line.
The final race was the turn of the Peters to take the lead and build up a commanding cushion over the pursuing boats. Chris Aubrey and Alex Pilkington held second after the first beat but eventually succumbed to both Mike and Neil Platt as the race unfolded. With the top 2 scoring similarly well in each race points were tight and the count back rules were tested to the full in establishing that it was Mike and Connie that were to take the event with Neil and Derek in 2nd and Peters Jacques and Tate in 3rd. The silver prize was awarded to Dave Burrows and Kate Billinge from Winsford SC with a creditable 8th overall.
All that remained was for Mike to thank Bolton Sailing Club for a very pleasurable return to what was previously his home club and then for everyone to head off happy to have had a rare day without incessant rain.