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Banbury Open Banbury Sailing Club


HD Sails Southern Paddle Series

by Neil Firth


Visitors from Bowmoor SC took the top two places at the HD Sails Streaker Southern Paddle Open Meeting at Banbury Sailing Club on 20 April, but not before RRS A8.1 and A8.2 separated a four-way tie for second place!


A chilly northerly of 10-15 knots meant that the Race Officer was able to set a testing beat, using the full length of the reservoir. The course provided plenty of overtaking opportunities in the shifting breeze, including a few traps for those caught on the wrong side of the race track.


Race one saw Brian Smith (Bowmoor SC) setting the early pace after a clean start at the pin end of the line. He tacked on the first header and crossed the fleet, opening up a lead that was never challenged. Ian Whitfield (Tamworth SC) also picked out some nice lifts up the first beat and held second for a lap or two.


Meanwhile, Banbury local, Neil Firth needed to work his way through the fleet after taking a two turn penalty for an infringement on Mike Hing (Bowmoor SC). Likewise, Matt Whitfield (Tamworth SC) had to work his way back from a poor start. Ultimately, Neil and Matt found a way to pick off the fleet (all except Brian!), with Matt taking second place after getting the better of Neil on the final short beat to the finish.


By race two, Mike Hing had found his groove and was getting in sync with the shifts. He led from the first windward mark, chased by Peter Blackman (Burghfield SC), Brian and Matt. Mike held on to the lead for virtually the entire race with the other three crossing tacks and gybes in pursuit. However, as all four leaders approached the leeward mark for the final time, Mike lost control in a gusty gybe and, although his mast didn't quite touch the water, it was enough to let the others through and allow Brian to take his second bullet of the day. Peter took an impressive second, christening his brand new Streaker fresh from the Hartley workshop, and Matt was third.


Neil came out for race three all fired up after Banbury's hearty chili-con-carne. He picked the best of the shifts on the long downwind leg to lead the Bowmoor duo, with Chris Godwin (Rutland SC) and Peter not far behind. Neil consolidated his lead, leaving Mike, Brian and Peter in a tight battle for second. That was looking like the order they would finish, until the final lap when Mike went hard right to find a lovely lift up the shore, popping out just ahead of Neil for the final run. That gave Mike the all important bullet which would prove crucial in settling the tie for second overall.


So, after a tight and competitive day of racing, it was Brian Smith who won the event; his first Streaker victory after just a year in the Class. The final scores showed a four-way tie for second between Mike Hing, Neil Firth, Peter Blackman and Matt Whitfield! Mike took a well deserved second place due to his race win, with Neil sneaking into third, based only on his last race score.


Thank you Banbury Sailing Club for hosting the event with three well managed races and an excellent lunch plus, of course, tea and delicious cakes at the prize-giving.


For its next two events, the Streaker fleet heads to Yorkshire and then the Kent coast...

  • 27 April - North Sails Northern Paddle Series - Hornsea SC
  • 18-19 May - HD Sails Southern Paddle Series - Downs SC


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