Wednesday, May 07, 2014
20 Squibs from as far afield as Yorkshire and the Isle of Wight competed for the Gold Cup at Burnham on Crouch over the Bank Holiday weekend. Conditions proved testing for the race officer and the sailors alike as light winds swinging up to 45 degrees in a matter of minutes accompanied by strong tides made for complicated tactical choices .
Saturday saw the inevitable long wait for the wind to settle, with the race eventually starting to the East , down river against the tide in about 6 knots of breeze. Port tack starters who then crept up the Foulness shore showed the way, with Micky Wright and Chris Dunn in Spoof and Robert Coyle and Ian Simmons in Humphrey showing early form. Nigel and Jack Grogan in Helmut Shoing II managed to make their way to the front and extend to win comfortably from Spoof with Phil Aspinall and Howard Enkels in Guy Fawkes showing their customary light air prowess in third.
Race two started in similar conditions with the majority of the fleet starting uptime of the line to dip just before the gun and then head for the bank.This time Malcolm Hutchings and Andy Ramsey in Lady Penelope came out winners with Spoof again second with visitors Gerard Dyson and Tony Saltonstall in Alchemy getting the hang of the tides in third.
After a long day on the water the fleet was sent home with only half the days scheduled racing completed and the prospect of the event going to the full 8 scheduled races looking remote. Sunday started with a gentle northerly which faded and strengthened while swinging from north west all the way through east to south west.
The fleet moved from the river Roach to the Crouch and then back again as race officer Kim Allen tried to set a sensible course. A couple of start were attempted and abandoned before racing commenced in the Crouch against a gentle South westerly. Early leaders Guy Fawkes were overhauled by the Grogans who won by a couple of boat lengths with Humphrey in third.
A long wait then ensued before the racing was moved to the river Roach with the wind now flicking between South East and South. With the tide under the fleet and the line barely makable on starboard there were some heroic attempts to port tack the fleet of the start line- mainly by Mike Probert and Mel Titmus in Pani Munta, and mainly doomed to failure!
Eventually race 4 was started with some big shifts on what was a good first beat. Simon Griffiths and Tim Rigler demonstrated their mastery of sailing in the Roach and had a great win, with Gina and Alex Porteus in Festina Lente sailing well to take second. third went to the impressively consistent Spoof, the only team to be in the top ten in each race.
The fifth race would prove to be the last, and with a discard only kicking in after 6 races it was to be decisive. After one recall the race was lead from start to finish by the Grogans with Lady Penelope narrowly second , squeezing out Alchemy into third. Spoof had their worst result with a 7th but Guy Fawkes beat that with a calamitous 13th.
After a tense add up it was Spoof that won the Gold Cup with 2,2,4,3,7 followed by the Grogans with 1,10,1,7,1 and then Malcolm and Andy with 8,1,10,4,2. Behind them was Nic Tolhurst and Sarah James ,then Guy Fawkes and Alchemy.
From a gear perspective all the top 5 boats had Hydes. Alchemy had a Batt mainsail and Hyde jib, Mike Probert was using a new set of development sails loaned by Dick Batt but only managed 10th place, but that may have been more to do with those port tack starts than boat speed!
All in all not a vintage Gold Cup, but one that was very well won by Micky and Chris in a great display of cool sailing in trying conditions."