Monday, March 21, 2016
21 Squibs from 7 different clubs entered the Squib open at Oulton Broad for 5 races in conditions that, because of the north-north easterly wind blowing across the Broad ranged from 5 to 15 knots with continual shifts of up to 35 degrees. The result was predictably challenging for keelboat racing with places changing constantly and the competitors being delighted on the ladders and despondent on the snakes, often on each leg!
Race Officer Owen Delaney, an experienced and successful Squib sailor himself, did a great job of providing courses that covered most of the Broad while maximising fairness plus involving very many mark roundings.This kept everyone warm especially the crews and highlighted everyone's early season boat handling.
The sun came out for the first race and it soon became apparent that being on the right shift and in the right pressure was going to be the key. Tacks through 100 degrees and frustrating flat spots were the penalties for getting it wrong. Early leaders, the Grogans sailing their "other boat" 881 went round the wrong windward mark allowing the very fast moving Rondar prototype sailed with great skill by Tim Riley and Richard Fryer to take the lead with Stu Rix and class chairman Steve Warren -Smith behind. However the Grogans were in front by the next mark and stayed there to win from Stu and Steve with the Rondar boat third.
Race two was lead from start to finish by the Grogans , Phil Aspinall and Howard Enkel after an awful start did a remarkable job of climbing through the whole fleet by taking full advantage of the "ladders" to finish second with Stu and Steve in third.
By the third race it was apparent that pole position at the committee boat was the way to start enabling you to "get right " by the corner of the clubhouse and hook into the bend that sometimes held for the long leg into the calm patches at the north eastern end of the Broad. The Grogans managed to execute that strategy and went on to score a hat trick of wins . Just behind however was Stu and Steve with the consistent locals, Bryan and Jenny Riley in third.
A great night in the clubhouse followed with live music and generous amounts of food, ensuring the the hospitable club enhanced its reputation as great hosts.
Sunday saw similar conditions but slightly more from the north, which meant for some real head scratching from Owen and resulted in two races with 8 marks in each. Chinagraph pencils were essential bits of kit! If anything the shifts were even bigger than saturdays.
The first start was slighty pin end biased but the Grogans again led up the beat from the committee boat end to round the windward mark first followed by Micky Wright and Howard "still suffering from the night before" Enkels. The long run down the lake was full of holes and the Grogans were becalmed and left wallowing near the back of the fleet. Stu and Steve smartly sailed the long way around to take the lead, but it was Tim Riley and the Rondar Boat that took the gun with Stu and Steve second again and Dave Best and Pete Richards who had made the long haul from South Caernavonshire in third.
For the final race Stu and Steve had to win with the Grogans fourth or worse. Both came of the line side by side at the pin end, but the Grogans were able to lead around the first mark but only after early leaders Dave and Pete had failed the "which one is the first mark" navigation test. However on the last beat they got their revenge and overtook the Grogans to beat them by a boat length with Stu and Steve in third.
Overall the Grogans won counting three firsts and a second, with Stu and Steve second with three seconds and a third. Bryan and Jenny were third . Dave Best and Pete Richards were fourth regretting their OCS in race two. The Rondar boat was alarmingly quick ( especially in view of its second hand keel that looked like the worst Squib keel that could be found ) but was also extremely well sailed and came 5th. Third to sixth place were separated by 3 points, showing how close Squib sailing is.
The event was a perfect season opener that was extremely well organised and a very popular addition to the Squib calendar.