Bewl Valley Flying Fifteen Open Meeting 5th /6th April 2014
The annual Bewl Valley Flying Fifteen Open meeting was held on the weekend of 5th/6th April at Bewl Valley Sailing Club near Lamberhurst in Kent.
The weather forecast in the previous week was extremely promising and hopes were high for a record turnout. This proved to be the case and the fleet was made up of 11 Bewl boats and 13 visitors. The latter came from as far afield as Devon, with the 4 boats from Hayling Island providing the most from a single club. For the first time all boats came from the Main fleet, thus no older boats from the Classic or Silver Fleet attended.
On Saturday afternoon the SW Force 3 winds accommodated a large trapezoidal course, using the majority of the main lake with the start line adjacent to the dam wall. Predictably, in some sense, the weekend became races of two halves, with the front half of the fleet provided by the visitors and the leading Bewl boats harassing the last quarter of the visiting fleet. However, there was much competition for places and close racing throughout the length of the fleet. It was particularly fascinating for the Bewl sailors to see the lap times achievable by the visitors on unfamiliar territory. As usual at Bewl, with this course, a good start and correctly predicting the winds patchiness and shifts on the first windward leg seemed to be the major component in the secret of success.On Sunday the wind had moved up a gear to force 4, without a real change of direction and so two more races were held with the previous day`s course. Under these perfect weather conditions the Fifteens lived up to their reputation for providing highly exciting spinnaker reaches.
The first and third places were taken by the Hayling Island boats of Apthorp and Richard , and Lovering and Alvarado, whilst in second place were Neller and Lucas of Grafham Water. In the home fleet the first Bewl boat , in tenth overall place, was that of the Clarks, followed at eleventh overall by the Blacklees and then in sixteenth place by Barton and Wood.
The usual cups and glassware prizes were supplemented by cash tokens from the sailing chandlers, Virtual Rigger.
Following the recent history of the event, with successive years seeing little wind, no water and culminating last year in snow and extreme freezing conditions, it was particularly gratifying to achieve a highly enjoyable, popular and successful sailing weekend.