For a second year Shearwater Sailing Club were very pleased and honoured to host, in conjunction with the Classic & Vintage Racing Dinghy Association a weekend of sailing and racing for Vintage, Classic and Old dinghies.
Together with several Club members with such “treasured” craft Shearwater SC welcomed visitors from many surrounding counties, with Alan Williams bringing his ‘Finn’ all the way from Mayfower, Plymouth.It was a weekend of real wood built hulls, masts and booms, cotton sails and of course varnish. The oldest boat was a 1948 National 12 sailed by local Bratton sailor Steve Winter. John and Lynn Gardiner from Baltic Wharf re-visited with their Finn and a finely presented and original Graduate. Chris and Lois Barlow of Shearwater showed off their ‘Classic’ Merlin Rocket equipped for the first time with an original set of cotton sails – special also as Chris had to “make” a new mast as the early Rocket’s main sail was much taller than the later and current ones. Rupert and Kathryn Whelan of Whitefriars again came with their very good looking (and fast) Firefly. A lovely British Moth was sailed by Mark Collier of Chippenham and a third Finn was sailed by Nick Clibben from Frensham Pond. The wind on the Saturday was an excellent good fresh westerly with frequent extra strength gusts.
The morning practice race started with eleven competitors with Shearwater members Matt and Sally Weale showing their ‘home water’ knowledge by leading the race almost from start to finish. Only five boats managed the whole race, the strong gusts catching some unaware and therefore suffering capsizes, with others deciding to retire ‘gracefully’ in readiness for the serious racing to follow after lunch.The two races in the afternoon were very competitive in the prevailing strong winds with capsizes keeping the rescue boats busy and the bankside spectators well entertained – especially when John Rawson and Adrian Geal having capsized and righted their Enterprise gave a perfect re-enactment of a diving submarine – the bow well under water and the stern/rudder high in the air. At the head of the race fleet the Finn of Alan Williams was rarely challenged, leading the first race to the line by a large margin. His ‘fast boat’ handicap however saw his corrected position drop to fourth with the Rupert and Kathryn Firefly taking both firsts on handicap. Colin Newton and Paul Athey of the host club brought their GP14 home on handicap second and then third. The Albacore of Leon Ward (Shearwater) completed his first day with a third and a second, thus setting up a potentially very open final result to sail for the following day.An informal social gathering took place during the evening at the local Crockerton pub.
On the Sunday the wind dropped considerably requiring helms and crews to work out the more delicate art of sailing light airs, wind shifts and holes. Boats in the front of the fleet could never be certain of staying there, whilst those behind knew they could easily improve if they ‘got lucky’ with a wind shift or eddy which no one else had. Thus it proved for the Graduate of John Gardiner who came home with a first and a third to finish the weekend overall second – his Saturday best result of fifth proving not good enough to win the Regatta, an honour going to the Firefly of Rupert and Kathryn Whelan who added two second place finishes to their Saturday two firsts – well deserved winners. The Mark Collier British Moth found the light airs perfect for him and his boat finishing the days races third and first – ruing that he didn’t sail the previous day and therefore not completing the minimum of three out of the four races to count. Going into the fourth and final race both the GP14 of Colin Newton and the Leon Ward Albacore could take the overall third place, Colin eventually making it his by finishing fifth to Leon’s seventh. A wonderful weekend of sailing and racing, hoping that Shearwater Sailing Club will host the event again in 2005.