Only 5 boats made it to the Alton Water open meeting on Saturday 15th October, the final event of both the Southern Paddle and East Anglian series. However, despite the low turnout, it was a fun day's sailing.
The course was trapezoidal but the breeze gradually backed as the day went on and the Race Officer never really managed to reset the course enough to compensate for this. So, in all 3 races, the startline was very port-biased and the first beat was more or less a fetch on port tack. Veronica Falat and Chris Smith tended to make the best starts and led at the first mark. In the first two races, Veronica managed to pull clear and stay ahead while the others scrapped for 2nd place. In Race 1 Chris lost out to both Ian Mansfield and Mark Langston on the first run and eventually Mark got past Ian to beat him to the finish. Race 2 again saw Veronica in the lead and Chris in 2nd place and this time Chris held off the challenge from the others and Mark again beat Ian to take 3rd place.
During a break for lunch the weather became overcast and gloomy and the wind dropped. There was some Phantom training going on and, as they sailed slowly round the course in a light drizzle, they didn't make sailing look very appealing! However, the Streakers decided to give the final race a go and so set off to the start line. Fortunately conditions improved - the breeze filled in and the sun came out. This time the Phantoms raced too, starting 5 minutes ahead of us. They would have kept clear of us but the trapezoidal course included an outer loop which meant that both fleets met up on every lap! Anyway, Chris led for most of our first lap but Veronica got past on the one-sided beat to the second mark. Chris held on to 2nd place for another lap but then made the mistake of getting so engrossed in the Phantom race that he set off on a reach with them instead of doiing the second half of the outer loop! This dropped him back to 4th while Ian and Mark fought for 2nd place. Ian beat Mark and so tied on points with him but took 2nd overall due to that good final race. Veronica was the winner with 3 first places. Chris was 4th and Nick Billingsley 5th.