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Haversham open meeting Haversham Sailing Club

Report by Veronica Falat

The Streaker open meeting at Haversham SC was sailed under cloudless blue skies on Saturday 21st September. 13 boats took part, 4 of them from the home club, and the racing was closely fought, especially as the breeze provided plenty of shifts and gusts to complicate matters. The event counted towards both the Pinnell & Bax Southern Paddle Series and the new Midland Series.

In race 1, Neil Firth was soon in the lead, hotly pursued by a tight group including James Dawes, Veronica Falat, Phil East and newcomer to the fleet, Graham Sexton. Eventually they spread out but Veronica managed to stay hot on Neil’s heels. After about 45 minutes of racing they expected the race to finish but found themselves doing another lap and it was only then that Veronica managed to sneak ahead and took the win with Neil 2nd and local sailor Phil East 3rd.

The wind swung more to the right for the afternoon racing making the long reach from one end of the lake to the other more of a fetch and, at times, even a beat. The trouble was, you couldn’t predict whether you should tack when headed or carry on and hope for a lift at the end of the leg. In fact, all the legs were tricky! The beats and runs were shifty and it often paid just to do the opposite of what the next guy did!

Graham Sexton, sailing his brand-new boat, managed to lead for much of race 2, with Phil and Veronica in close attendance. However, on the run to the final mark, Neil stayed on port gybe and picked up a nice gust. Veronica gybed back onto port but Neil was already past her. Then these 2 managed to shoot past Graham and Phil. Neil finished 1st, Veronica 2nd and Graham just lost out to Phil on the finish line.

So Veronica and Phil each had a 1st and 2nd coming into the 3rd and final race. The event was also a Lightning 368 open and their starts were supposed to be 5 minutes after the Streakers’. However, for this race they had been delayed and unfortunately, as we were finishing our first lap, they were lining up to start – and our leeward mark was practically on their start-line! To make matters worse the breeze was lifting on starboard and the Lightnings were tightly bunched at that end of the line as we came in, rounded our mark and luffed up, making for one mass of boats! Graham was leading the Streakers and he and Phil managed to get to the windward mark ahead of most of the Lightnings but Veronica and Mark Langston arrived surrounded by Lightnings and found themselves trapped on the run while Neil managed to gybe clear and overtake. Soon afterwards Graham retired, worried about a knee problem, and Phil went on to take the win. Neil was 2nd and so was overall winner after a well fought race.

The conditions were testing and you needed a good sense of humour at times but thank you to Haversham for a good day on and off the water.



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