The 2014 Midwinters were held at Datchet today, amazingly, in bright bright sunshine! Wasn’t half blowing though – 20 mph SW plus huge 60mph gusts forecast(!), and about 7 degrees of temperature… Great formula for a sail!!
The preceding 24 hours though had contained as much rainfall as any of the worst of our storms this winter. Roads in the area were saturated. The main gate was only just passable, and the Club boatshed was marooned in its own lake.
Given the conditions, a few would be competitors would have been deterred. A full report from Helen Hepworth follows.
Datchet Midwinters Championships 1st February 2014.
Written by Helen Hepworth
For all those sailors who have been duvet hugging since coming back from Hong Kong, the Midwinter Championships is a first step to blowing away all the cobwebs ready for the rest of the season.
Despite the heavy wind forecast and the flood at the gates of the reservoir, 8 crews, including 2 visitors, lined up to launch following the race briefing from Datchet Commodore Philip Tinsley. He proposed to do short windward-leeward courses to give everyone lots of start and first beat practice as well as to try and keep everyone warm!
even crews actually took to the start line with Charles Apthorp and Alan Green in 3957, Patrick Keats and David Culpan in 3821 and Mervyn Wright and Howard Shawyer in 3536 leading the way up the first beat after hitting the pin in 3954 for John Hanson and Helen Selden meant turns had to be done.
However, by the first mark 3954 and made headway into the leading pack, and although 3957 had sprinted away down the run, 3954 were in the hunt having passed both 3821 and 3536. The first race appeared to finish with 3957 taking the gun, 3954 second followed by 3821 and 3536, however 3954 had failed to round the last spreader mark and so retired from the race.
The second race got turned round very quickly thanks to the PRO and a better start was had by all. Again 3957 lead the way with 3821 and 3954 hot on their heels. This order was maintained throughout the race to the end. Unfortunately due to the increasing breeze only 5 boats finished race 2.
In light of this increasing breeze and after consultation with the 4 boats left on the water, the PRO set up again for race 3. The first beat, although gusty was manageable, but the gusts on the run down proved quite tricky with the kite up. 3957 was the first to be caught out resulting in 3954 taking the decision initially to only motor down under 2 sails. However, seeing 3821 managing the kite, 3954 duly hoisted to be hit by more large gusts. 3957 had recovered by this point and the order at the leeward mark was 3957, 3821, 3954 then 3536. The gusts were still increasing at this point (45 mph was recorded at Heathrow) and were wreaking havoc – 3954’s tiller extension broke on the run down taking them out of the race and so the final race ended with a third and decisive win for 3957 therefore taking the overall honours, with a third second place for 3821 and another third place for 3536, despite Mervyn Wright losing a tooth somewhere along the way!
Discussions at the prize giving focused around how much fun the event had been. The visitors and several more teams now move on to compete in the Datchet Winter Warm up event Through March. We’re expecting Simon Kneller, Dave Lucas, Graham and Ben Scroggie and Richard Lovering/ Matt Alvarado to join in shortly to take advantage and all others are welcome to cons and tune up before the Mercedes Open on 8th/ 9th March They will be joined by many more crews for the Datchet Open Meeting at on the 8th -9th March, see you all there.