Southern Championships - Wilsonian Sailing Club - July 2014

With light air and zephyrs forecast for the weekend five Vortexes were present at Wilsonian SC for the Southern Championships held as part of the Medway Regatta.

Start Line Medway Regatta

The forecast has obviously deterred some, with the general event attendance slightly lower than in previous years. Race 1 started in lightish airs with a run downriver against the tide using a comparably short course to test the fleet in the conditions. Rounding mark 31 the fleet were tightly packed, with no one wishing to lose out on the tide at the rounding before splitting in search of more pressure or less tide. Local Nick Lett (1219) and Alex Benfield (1089) went into the river seeking the pressure, whilst Jonathan Carter (2014) went into the moorings to try and get out of the tide. Nick Ireland (1177) had joined the fray after a slightly delayed start and started to follow Jonathan inshore. Nick, Jonathan and Alex all congregated at the river bend before Jonathan picked up the pressure really close to the shore and pulled out into a lead. Shorten course was called at mark 27, with Jonathan out in front, followed by Alex, Nick (L) and Nick (I) in that order. The wind switched off at that point and snakes and ladders began, with gains and big losses to be had all over the course. Nick Lett showed his local knowledge and found a puff where there shouldn’t have been and overtook Alex on the inside. Jonathan lead the Vortexes home (and picked up a 2nd in overall fleet in process), with Nick, Alex and Nick in that order.

Race 2 was ultimately abandoned whilst the fleets were still ashore, so the Vortex boys took advantage of the extra time to tweak the boats and get their tents setup in the sun before hitting the bar and BBQ.

An evening storm brought the possibility of a much crisper Sunday morning, but the wind that many felt was due did not fully materialise. Race 3 was a much longer course down to mark 23, and the fleet launched into 3-4 mile an hour winds. A second local boat of Phil Harris joined the Vortexes on the start line, before Nick Lett got a brilliant start out in the river to lead the whole fleet away. Alex, Jonathan and Nick (I) were close together down towards mark 29, with Alex staying up in the tide for more pressure and Jonathan and Nick inshore. The pressure seeking paid off and Alex was off on the tails of a local RS800, trading gybes downriver towards mark 25. Jonathan stayed fully inshore (and may have had to extract himself from the bottom on at least one occasion!) whilst Nick (I) played the edge of the channel. In what was to be very frustrating for all the sailors the wind came and went as it wanted and by mark 23 Alex and Jonathan had eroded Nick Lett’s lead whilst Nick I and Phil Harris had been left stranded in the river. Upwind Nick and Jonathan went to the north bank, whilst Alex tried to stay in the tide. The wind then filled in from the North, picking Nick and Jonathan up and getting them away, whilst Alex waited precious minutes for the breeze to reach him. The lightweights had a brief chance to stretch their legs on the wire before the wind dropped again. Jonathan pipped Nick to the line in a Port Starboard manoeuvre, with Alex following in behind. After watching the fleet use him as a becalmed warning and sailing around him Nick I had decided to return to the beach, much to the horror of the lead ALTO who crossed the line as he did, whilst Phil made it round in the zephyrs.

After lunch the fleet met on the banks for race 4, albeit with absolutely no wind. Boats were in the water but no one wanted to blink first and launch, with fears of being swept on the tide towards Rochester! The committee decided the wind was coming and set the same course as race one, before a le mans style scramble to get afloat on the 5 minute warning. Much drifting (and about 13 minutes by Nicks timing) later Alex crossed the line first, staying right inshore over the mudflats. In what felt like no wind he gradually pulled away with a bunch of Blazes to leave Jonathan and Nick (L) struggling on the start line. Phil and Nick (I) had decided they had had enough of light airs for the weekend and gracefully watched from the shore. Not hoisting the kite seemed to pay off for Alex and he headed off down towards mark 29. Rounding the Hoo Ness headland the pressure had risen enough for the kite to be hoisted and it was off to mark 27 with a couple of 800s and an Alto. Nick and Jonathan had found some pressure by now and were making their way down, but Alex was well ahead rounding the buoy second to an 800. A quick nip across the channel to 26 before upwind was fine but on the south side of the river the wind had died making the leg to 28 highly frustrating for all. Jonathan had now started to close using the pressure on the North side and rounded mark 26 before adjusting his tactics and route to avoid the now becalmed Alex by 28. Nick had a frustrating time crossing the river, with the light airs and a container ship conspiring to delay him at every chance. Thankfully the seabreeze kicked in and Alex and Jonathan were wiring back towards the line, with Jonathan winning the drag race and getting to the line seconds in front of Alex. Jonathan claimed first boat on handicap in race 3, with an ALTO splitting him from Alex in 3rd.

Despite the lack of wind the Wilsonian SC put on a very enjoyable event, with the customary free t-shirt for all. Our thanks to all the organizers who as usual did a fantastic job of keeping everything running smoothly.

Jonathan’s results gained him second position overall in the Fast fleet of 12 boats, with Alex claiming 4th. With three races held the extracted Vortex results gave Alex 3rd, Nick (L) 2nd and Jonathan a well-deserved 1st.

The next event is the much talked about Nationals at Stokes Bay on the 30-31st August.

RankSailNoClubHelm Name
1 2014 Rickmansworth Jonathan Carter
2 1219 Wilsonian SC Nick Lett
3 1089 Stokes Bay Alex Benfield
4 1177 Stokes Bay Nick Ireland
5   Wilsonian SC Phil Harris