With 3 of the top 4 boats from the Nationals competing, the standard of sailing at the Bolton Sailing Club Graduate Open was high and the racing was competitive throughout the fleet.  Featuring ages in the range 10 right up to 79, the 8 teams were confronted with a bit of everything – blue skies, sunshine, cloud, rain, squall and a rainbow, although not all at the same time. At times, the shifty south easterly wind direction provided some fast planing reaches and gusty beats, requiring rapid mainsheet and crew weight adjustment, whilst at other times the conditions were less tricky.

Ian Moodie, the principle race officer for the day decided upon a committee boat start for all 3 races, thus maximising the length of the first beat. At the start of the first race Andy and Sue Flitcroft negotiated the shifts well, taking the lead at the first mark and maintaining that lead for the whole of the first lap. However, Tim Sadler and Gabe Hill found a better way up the beat at the beginning of the second lap and took on the lead. Hiking hard and fighting back though, the Flitcrofts managed to regain the lead a few minutes later. As if attached with bungee, Sadler and Hill stuck close all the way to the last mark of lap 3, forcing the Flitcrofts to provide close cover tack-by-tack up the last beat to win on the finish. Not far behind in 3rd were Steve Blackburn and Cerys Butcher, having worked their way through the fleet from 5th place. Having only taken up sailing this year and competing in his first open event, Matthew Daly and helm David Ivins finished 4th.

During the break for lunch Chris Aubrey wisely chose to dry his hair and check the security of all the knots on his borrowed boat after scooping water on a near capsize when his toe-straps came undone.

With a change of course, utilising the full length of the reservoir, race 2 started well for Chris and Julie Waddington. This being their first time in the borrowed boat, they went out for a practice for about 30 minutes before the first race and were clearly getting to grips with it as they closed the gap between 4th and 5th in race one. Having then tweaked the jib setup slightly over lunch, they hung onto starboard tack during the first beat in race 2 a little longer than the Flitcrofts and got water at the first mark. The Flitcrofts quickly took the lead on the run to the second mark but the Waddingtons got water again at the end of the 3rd leg. However, they were blanketed downwind on the next leg by the rest of the fleet, allowing the Flitcrofts to re-take the lead. Just to make things interesting, a squall blew through during the 1st and 2nd lap, accompanied by rain and everyone did well to avoid capsizing. As the rainbow to which we were greeted disappeared and the blue sky and sun re-appeared, the wind moderated. The Flitcrofts held on to first place all the way to the finish despite a great performance from Blackburn and Butcher who finished 2nd.  Just a little too far behind to catch up to the lead boats were Sadler and Hill in 3rd and still sailing well to finish in 4th after a cracking start were the Waddingtons.

The 3rd and final race started in a lighter breeze with another change of course. Having won the first 2 races and therefore the event, the Flitcrofts were perhaps a little too relaxed at the start of race 3 and got buried at the start, having to wait for the other boats to tack onto port before making their move to catch up to the leaders who were by then well on the way to the first mark. Bob and Maggie Murrell, who had travelled all the way from Chipstead Sailing Club were revelling in the lighter conditions and were enjoying being in the lead pack. By the end of the first lap the Flitcrofts had worked their way up to second place. An unfortunate obstruction at the second mark of the second lap enabled them to further close the gap between Sadler and Hill who had led from the start. On the long reach down to the spillway though, Sadler and Hill made good use of the strengthening wind and re-opened the gap which they held on to, crossing the finish line in 1st place with the Flitcrofts 2nd. Sailing high, Blackburn and Butcher crossed in 3rd, ahead by about the thickness of a coat of paint of Chris and Sam Aubrey who had reached off to leeward for speed. A great result for the Aubreys who benefitted from a batten change before the final race and with Sam crewing an unfamiliar borrowed boat at the age of 10.

After a testing day of close competition, the Bolton Graduate Challenge Trophy was presented to the overall winners Andy and Sue Flitcroft. In 2nd place were Tim Sadler and Gabe Hill, 3rd Steve Blackburn and Cerys Butcher, and 4th Chris and Julie Waddington. Winners of the furthest travelled prize were Bob and Maggie Murrell who came up to support the event all the way from what we northerners might refer to as “the wrong side of London”!  Our appreciation was shown to all the visitors who participated in this open event and to Ian Moodie and his OD crew who were kindly supported throughout the day by Geoff Benson. Thanks also go to Rear Commodore Andrew Craig who presented the prizes.

Rank

Sail No

Club

Helm Name

Crew Name

R1

R2

R3

Total

Nett

1st

3001

Bolton Sailing Club

Andy Flitcroft

Sue Flitcroft

1.0

1.0

(2.0)

4.0

2.0

2nd

3018

Yorkshire Dales/Bolton Sailing Club

Tim Sadler

Gabe Hill

2.0

(3.0)

1.0

6.0

3.0

3rd

2917

West Lancs Sailing Club

Steve Blackburn

Cerys Butcher

(3.0)

2.0

3.0

8.0

5.0

4th

2929

Bolton Sailing Club

Julie Waddington

Chris Waddington

(5.0)

4.0

5.0

14.0

9.0

5th

2878

Bolton Sailing Club

David Ivins

Matthew Daly

4.0

6.0

(7.0)

17.0

10.0

6th

2916

Bolton Sailing Club

Chris Aubrey

Sam Aubrey

(7.0)

7.0

4.0

18.0

11.0

7th

3008

Chipstead Sailing Club

Bob Murrell

Maggie Murrell

(8.0)

5.0

6.0

19.0

11.0

8th

2097

Southport Sailing Club

Chris Parker

Katie Ross

6.0

(8.0)

8.0

22.0

14.0