Low grey cloud and incessant rain look ominous for both the competitors and the OOD as they turned up at Bolton Sailing Club’s GP14 open. Eleven travellers weren’t deterred from making the journey to join the thirteen club boats and despite continuous rain during rigging spirits seemed to be high at this the second event of the Northern circuit.
A testing time was also had in the OOD box as the fickle southerly wind came and went with each black cloud that passed slowly over making setting the first course an arduous task. Surprisingly as first gun sounded conditions had significantly improved with the rain stopping and a light, if not somewhat fickle breeze establishing across the whole lake.
Innes Armstrong and Oliver Dewhurst of Burwain SC were quick out of the blocks and seemed to be making the most out of the light winds up the first beat. However a little extra breeze on the right in the latter half of the beat saw Bill Kenyon and Ben Ditchburn of Budworth squeeze in front at the first mark to lead everyone down the first testing run. Places began to change downwind as the fleet spread across the lake each looking for those pockets of extra breeze to help push them past their rivals.
Perhaps local knowledge, but most likely the considerable experience and talent of the Platt’s began to show and Mark crewed by Malcolm Marsden and Ian with Alex Pilkington made their way to the head of the fleet. They weren’t to have it all their own way though as Matt Mee and Andy Tunnicliffe tussled hard pushing for their place at the front. At the line Mark Platt and Malcolm had hung on to take the first win with Ian and Alex close behind and Matt and Andy on their heels in 3rd.
Race 2 followed a good lunch in the club but with little change in the conditions positions were going to be hard fought again as was getting the fleet off the start cleanly. Two general recalls saw the emergence of the black flag, which ensured that Neil Platt and Tom Robinson plus Mandy Mitchell and John Close could head back to the club to watch race 2 from the shore having both fallen foul of a premature start.
Positions at the front soon resembled those of race 1 and despite changes throughout the race it was once again Mark and Malcolm that took the victory that secured them the overall event win. Ian and Alex and Matt and Andy’s results also mirrored those of race one with Bill and Ben sailing consistently taking the fourth spot.
Despite having the event in the bag Mark and Malcolm took to the water for the final race a decision they must have regretted as the rain returned and the wind departed. The downpour, the bunching up of the fleet at marks and the desperate downwind legs ensure there were frustrations and dampened spirits with one helm heard to scream “get that kite filled, everyone else around us is moving” a thought I am sure hadn’t even entered the crew’s head!!!
Matt and Andy picked their way around the lake with the greatest success and took the final race thus ensuring that despite Ian and Alex’s third second place they pipped them for 2nd overall. Bill and Ben made up the top three in the race giving them a deserved 4th overall ahead of Neil Platt and Tom who completed the overall top 5.
David and Pete Mitchell of Winsford Flash Sailing Club headed the silver fleet with the Bronze title going to James and Judith Downes of Budworth Sailing Club. Bolton sailors took the lady helm trophy with Julie and Chris Waddington coming out on top and a junior prize went to Ruth Shevelan and Rebecca Paul also from Bolton.
All that remained was for Matt Mee to thank Bolton Sailing Club on behalf of the visitors and collectively the fleet to thank Andy Flitcroft and his team for a job well done on very testing day for any OOD.