The Regattas – Dinghies

It was a busy weekend for the combined clubs of Dee and West Kirby. Many hours of planning, meetings and preparations that cumulated in sparkling, sunny days and warm balmy evenings sharing the days’ adventures with old friends and new.

The weekend even started a day early, with the Illusion Regatta; a five-race series held on the lake and attended by 6 of the 7 resident Illusions. The racing was, as always, very close and the winner hung in the balance until the final race, when Peter Bramley nosed ahead of rival David Pilling in 4th and 5th place respectively to take the Regatta honours. Alan Irving finished the series in 3rd overall.

Also afloat in the freshening wind conditions were the majority of the International Canoe fleet, for whom Tony Marston had organised a training day by National Champion Gareth Caldwell who travelled from Blithfield SC for the weekend. Two hours of tacking, gybing, reaching, running, beating and swimming later, the candidates were declared fit to compete in the Fast Handicap class of the regattas and retreated to bed to recover for the following day.

Saturday dawned still and sunny. A light Southwesterly was prevailing and the boat park started to wake up with discarded covers and happy sailors.

This year, the Medium Handicap was to serve as an Open Meeting for RS Aeros and 11 visitors arrived from as far as Whitstable, Ullswater, Nottingham, Oxford, Maidenhead, Covenham and Yorkshire. West Kirby SC certainly had an adventure weekend planned for them, with camping at Dee SC, bike trail rides along the Wirral Way to get to and from the sailing club and, of course, sailing with our famous seals in light airs against strong tides.

The First event was Dee Regatta on Saturday, although both days involved sailing out of West Kirby for all dinghy classes.

Race One was held in light airs and was a tricky start, which involved running against the tide behind the line and planning the spin and go manoeuvre to time perfectly with the start gun. During Race 2, the wind died completely and the fast and medium fleets met up at the windward mark, where the seabreeze wafted them together but never fully filled in. The Race Officers shortened the course, as the tide took the competitors towards the finish and even looked set to push them beyond. The medium fleet finished close behind the canoes and were propelled back ashore by a sudden and violent force 4 seabreeze which slammed everyone onto the beach at once. Thankfully Graham was there with the trolleys to minimise the carnage.

The day ended with the prizegiving and Regatta Lunch at Dee, followed by a delightful young singer to entertain us all, whilst we lazed with cold beers on the lawn.

Sunday dawned also sunny and warm, with more promise of a seabreeze. The fast handicap fleet was boosted by an extra boat, that of newest West Kirby member and beginner IC sailor Andrew Potter. This emphasises that the Regatta is for everyone, regardless of how long they have been at the club or how new their boat is to them, so You out there, Come and have a go!

The nine Canoes and one Contender were first start in a strong tide, followed a few minutes later by the medium handicap. The Albacores and Aeros were quick to catch up and had passed the tail end of the fast handicap by the first mark. The slow handicap numbers were down this year, but the shorter first race was won by the Laser 4.7 of Drew Gibbons, who went on to win the overall series from the St Paers, coming 2nd in their Heron.

The second race was set in a strengthening wind and proved to be the best racing conditions of the weekend.

In the Fast fleet, the visiting National IC champion, Gareth Caldwell made a quick getaway on the first reach and never looked back. Tony Marston’s “White Knight” consolidated his runner-up position with another 2nd. Visitor Roger Howell hung onto 3rd place, followed by Liz Potter in 4th in the Contender “Bojangles” after both correctly chose the favoured side of the first beat. Caldwell was the overall Fast Handicap winner and Tony Marston won first IC.

In the Medium fleet, promising Aero youngster Catie Atkin took first place in this race, giving her first Aero and second in the category overall. The Medium handicap was won by John Dixon in his Solo, with a steady 5,2.

Liz Potter