The weather forecast for the weekend seemed to put off several potential visitors and, unfortunately, proved to be optimistic in terms of wind strength. However, as we know, light winds are a real test of sailing skill, that force competitors to revaluate their on-water strategy and use every ounce of sailing knowledge to make headway in conditions out of their control at competition level.
Despite this, the WRSC Finn fleet tuned out in force, along with six visitors from as far afield as Scotland and Portsmouth, to take on the challenging weather conditions at the West Riding Sailing Club for the British Finn Association Northern Championship. Hats off!
Saturday morning was cool and cloudy, but there was evidence of a breeze on the water. Race Officer Tim Keighley and his team set a windward leeward course, and the fleet made their way to the start line just as the breeze began to disappear and swing from one side of the lake to the other. But, the decision was made to hoist the race flag regardless, knowing the formidable reputation of Finn sailors.
In the first race, West Riding’s Soeren Vonsild put his local knowledge to good use, using his own personal supply of wind to take the lead and pull away with and take the win with the Hayling Island duo of Russ Ward and Ivan Burden, coming in second and third place.
By the start of the second race, the wind had pretty much disappeared, only occasionally filling in from random parts of the lake, blowing in every direction, making it testing conditions for any seasoned sailor. But, as the fleet was out on the water and lunch wasn’t yet ready, Tim sent them off again for another game of snakes and ladders, knowing that only heavyweight champions would come out on top.
Fergus Allan of Loch Earn Sailing Club showed patience and determination to build a healthy lead. However, David Kitchen of Port Edgar Yacht Club moved stealthily through the field. Dispatching Soeren at the end of the first lap of the second race, suggesting that he may like to do some penalty turns before reeling in a becalmed Fergus to take the win.
The boats cruised slowly into shore as the sun came out, making for a very pleasant lunch break on the club decking.
After a couple of hours, it became apparent that the wind had gone for the day, racing was abandoned, and the bar opened, with everyone enjoying a pleasant afternoon in the sunshine.
On the Sunday morning, a thick fog covered the lake, suggesting that much wind was on the way. The race team set a midday deadline for starting the 3rd race, and whilst the Finn competitors munched on breakfast butties, they prayed for wind! The sun reappeared, the deadline passed without a ripple appearing on the surface, and the truncated event concluded. However, despite the weather, three champions reigned supreme, a testament to their skill on the water.
Congratulations to Dave Kitchen for lifting the first-place trophy with some great tactical decisions on the water to catch the shifts and puffs; second went to Ivan Burden, again showing fantastic skill, and third to Soeren Vonsild. And, from all at WRSC, we all know Soeren Vonsild is a champion amongst champions at sailing in light winds.
David Kitchen thanked the club for the warm welcome, hospitality and catering and assured Tim, WRSC’s notorious Lewis Hamilton and event umpire, that no one held him responsible for the lack of wind. And regardless, it was still an enjoyable and competitive weekend of sailing, with a good atmosphere and craic, for all who made the journey.
Report by Nina Ricks, WRSC
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