Bowmoor 2023

Bowmoor Sailing Club CVRDA Open Meeting 29th and 30th July 2023

Despite the rather adverse weather forecast suggesting unseasonably high winds the Bowmoor event went ahead as planned and the turnout of 14 boats was surprisingly good with most people deciding to give it a go regardless.
Several of the regulars arrived on Friday so Wendy placed a bulk order with the local chippy and as soon as Lyndon arrived, we all sat down in the clubhouse and tucked into fish and chips. Alas, there weren’t quite enough of us to match Sam’s feat at Nantwich in getting the chip shop closed to other customers while the CVRDA order was being prepared…maybe next year?
Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny with a fresh breeze already starting to build from the South West. The rest of the cast began to arrive and after registration everyone set about getting their boats ready.
At the briefing, Race Officer Tom Whittingham explained that due to the steadily increasing wind, the schedule would be amended to get two back-to-back races in before lunch in an attempt to hold them before conditions became unsailable. Unfortunately, Ian Ridge decided that for him the conditions were already too extreme for his beautifully restored Magnum 6 given his lack of recent practice so he, probably wisely, opted to stay ashore and watch.
Tom set a start line from the committee boat in the North East corner of the lake and using a combination of 2 temporary marks and 4 fixed club marks posted an interesting course that would include every point of sailing. After a short delay waiting for all the boats to leave the shore safely (come along Graham!) the five-minute horn sounded and the game was afoot.
The fleet got away cleanly and after the first beat Lyndon was first round in his Magnum 6 and shot off down the first reach with rest of the pack in pursuit. Lyndon continued to pull away despite a brief swim after a capsize on the trick run from V down to 1. Ian in his Shelley broke away into second place with Rob in the Europe, John and Caroline in the Lark and Gavin in the British Moth giving chase. The leading bunch all managed the full three laps, but the slower boats were finished after two so their average lap times could be multiplied up to give meaningful elapsed times. Tim and Pat in Merlin 1066 had made it out to the starting area, but soon realised that the gusts were just a bit too strong and made a hasty retreat back to the shore for a cup of tea. Sandy and Pat in the Albacore followed, only starting because through the start line was the most direct route to shore! Graham suffered gear failure with a broken gooseneck (again!) and was forced to retire and Stuart capsized and put a spreader through his sail so also retired, but everyone else made it round in some pretty testing conditions. Lyndon was first on handicap with Ian second, Rob third and Gavin fourth.
The course was the same for race two although the gusts were getting more vicious as the race progressed. A similar pattern quickly emerged with Lyndon’s amazing upwind speed giving him an early lead with Ian and Rob breaking away from the rest of the pack. The race developed into a war of attrition with the wind reaching survival conditions by the end of the first lap. This resulted in Roger in the Mirror, Chris Wood in the Albacore and Rob in the Europe retiring having decided that discretion was the better part of valour and they would also beat the rush in the lunch queue. John and Caroline carried on bravely after a capsize to finish third on the water behind Lyndon and Ian with Gavin crossing the line fourth. The remaining two boats which were Mark in the reefed Gull and Stef and Nigel in the GP14 kept going in spite of the battering and finished a lap down on the leaders. Gavin in the BM emerged victorious on handicap with Lyndon second, Ian third and John and Caroline fourth in the Lark.
During the lunch break a discussion was held with the Race Officer and based on the fact that Sunday’s forecast could mean no sailing if it proved accurate it was decided to attempt two more short races in the afternoon. In the meantime, Graham had managed to find some spare parts and using borrowed tools he managed to effect a workmanlike repair to his gooseneck in time for the afternoon session.
With the wind freshening further, Mark elected to move the Gull’s mast into the forward position and go una rigged under reefed main alone. He left the shore first acting as the guinea pig to see if conditions were still sailable? Only seconds later a massive gust came through as people were hoisting sails and the worried look on Lyndon’s face was enough to convince everyone that the sensible thing was to abandon for the day. Mark made it back safely and confirmed that it wouldn’t be wise to carry on.
With stumps pulled for the day boats were de-rigged and most were moved into the carpark taking shelter from the wind behind the clubhouse. Sadly, Ian and Natasha decided to pack the Magnum 6 up and head for home rather than risk another frustrating day sat on the shore. Bearing in mind that their home event at Banbury is only two weeks away, Tim and Pat did the same with the Merlin to ensure that the boat would still be in one piece, although in fairness they had only planned to do one day anyway. The afternoon was spent relaxing and admiring the photos taken by John Butler of the morning’s racing.
Another chat with the Race Officer and a plan was hatched to go for an even earlier start on Sunday than originally planned in order to try and get two races in before the wind gets too strong. This would mean launching as soon as possible after the open water swimmers exit the water at 09:30 so the first race could be started by 09:45. Everyone agreed to the plan before settling down for the evening so the BBQ was duly lit followed by the bar being declared open. Meanwhile in the Moth camp things were stirring as Stuart had some repairs to do on his Shelley and Simon Portman had arrived from Whitefriars with his Magnum 5 in order to assemble it ready for Sunday’s early start.
Despite the wind trying to blow it out, a little bit of encouragement from the club pyromaniac soon got the charcoal going nicely and people started cooking their meat. After an enjoyable evening eating, drinking and discussing the day’s events most people retired at a sensible hour to be ready for an early alarm call the following morning.
Looking out on the lake during Sunday breakfast it was clear that although there was a bit of breeze blowing, it was considerably less than we had seen the previous afternoon so the plan appeared to be working.
By the time the swimmers started coming ashore the race crew were primed and ready and the reduced fleet of nine boats hoisted sails in readiness. Roger, Sandy and Stuart had seen a few too many gust streaks fanning out across the lake and decided against participating, however, Simon had clearly taken some brave pills and was ready for action. Chris had put a smaller, confusing set of sails on his Albacore – confusing because they were Firefly sails but labelled for his International 14! The safety boat approached the beach to say that a simple course had been laid and we were all clear to launch which we did…Come along Graham!
Unfortunately, the conditions were just a bit too much for Simon who capsized several times on the way out to the start resulting in an injured arm which forced him to retire and gain assistance from the rescue boat to get back to the shore.
The remaining eight boats battled bravely on and against expectations the wind actually abated slightly towards the end of the first race allowing everyone to finish in good shape. The finishing order had a fairly familiar look about it with Lyndon crossing the line first ahead of Ian with Rob finishing a few minutes later in a dead heat with Chris and Owen in the Albacore. Graham finished next 24 seconds ahead of Gavin in the British Moth. Lyndon held on to first place on handicap ahead of Ian, Gavin, Rob and Chris who had sailed a good race in the Albacore ably assisted by Owen, another borrowed Bowmoor crew.
The final race started with two boats almost getting away with a port tack flyer from the pin end, but needing to duck a couple of transoms before continuing out to the right up the beat. As expected Lyndon rounded first and led all the way to finish a minute and a half in front of Ian after 5 laps in a breeze that seemed to be slowly dropping. Chris finished third in the Albacore 10 seconds ahead of Rob with Graham and Gavin also completing 5 laps some distance behind. The Gull and the GP completed 4 laps each and their times were factored as before to give them a result. After Pat had done her magic with Sailwave, the handicap results were Lyndon first ahead of Gavin, who had sneaked through to second, followed by Ian, Rob and Chris.
By the time the first club race got underway at 11:30 the wind had moderated further bearing little or no resemblance to the forecast which had suggested even more wind than Saturday. This just goes to prove that it is sometimes better to treat the forecast with a pinch of salt and wait and see what actually happens before making any decisions about cancelling.
The Bowmoor Commodore presented the prizes once he had returned to the shore after sailing his Phantom in the club race. Prize-winners were:
1st Overall and winner of the Mark Collyer memorial trophy – Lyndon Beasley in Magnum 6 K3909
2nd Overall – Gavin Gulliver Goodall in British Moth 812
3rd Overall – Ian Marshall in Shelley K2883
1st Double handed boat Chris Wood and Brian (Saturday) and Owen (Sunday)
A big thank you to everyone who attended and especially to Tom and the rest of the race team including those in the safety boats for doing such a great job in far from ideal conditions. Thanks also to Wendy for all her help in preparing for the event as well as dealing with registration and providing the well-received cakes at the prize-giving.

Ian Marshall