Chipstead Sailing Club
Graduate Open Meeting
9th May 2021
The timely relaxation of the COVID rules meant that Chipstead SC were able to run the 2021 Graduate open meeting on 9th May. In common with previous years it was a shared event with the Herons.
The Grads fleet of 13 entrants was greeted with a gusty South South Westerly, which can be a tricky direction at Chipstead as the wind swirls around the trees on the South shore. The OOD, Richard Ball, and his team from the Solo fleet laid a start line just at the Western end of the “Narrows” using a temporary flag pole to comply with COVID regulations. The line was quite biased and so a port tack start was available for those brave enough to try it.
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The fleet was well behaved and got off to a clean start. The teams were conservative and none opted for a port flyer. Ric Lewis & John Higham had a strong start at the Southern end of the line, tacking onto port at the gun to make full use of the line bias. Predictably, John Clementson & Mel Titmus were hot on their heels with the bulk of the fleet being more to the North end of the line and losing out despite also opting to tack immediately.
With the gusty conditions to their liking John & Mel soon pulled clear of the fleet with Ric and John doing well too. The fleet enjoyed some good planing across the Eastern end of the lake with all crews being tested by the gust when beating back up to the club house to complete lap one.
The second run was a much quieter affair and the chasing pack overhauled Ric & John who waited for them in a large hole in the Narrows. Bob & Maggie Murrell closely followed by Andrew Hubble & Sandra Jordan made the most of the next beat with Ric & John managing to recover from their drift on the previous run.
John & Mel finished with a commanding lead and it was left to Bob & Maggie, Andrew & Sandra and Ric & John to fight it out for second place. Bob & Maggie just held on to benefit from a timely lift to scrape in the line side of the outer distance mark to claim second, Ric & John watching their good fortune from a very close third place.
The fleet retired to the outside seating area for a well earned lunch.
The race team kept the same start line and course for the second race, starting as soon as possible in the afternoon to allow visitors to leave at a reasonable hour.
John & Mel repeated their dominant performance from the first race leading from the gun to the end. Roger Cherrill & Sarah-Jane Critchley showed early form with the three teams of Andrew & Sandra, Bob & Maggie and Ric & John all in contention. Gareth & Polly Colesmith were well placed going into the early part of the race. James Webber & Helen Recardo were also showing good speed as the race progressed and mixing tacks with the chasing group before overtaking Roger & Sarah-Jane. Bob & Maggie did enough to claim their second runner-up place of the day. With an excitingly close finish any of three teams could take third place right up until the last few yards. Ric & John hung in there to secure third with James & Helen squeezing in to fourth just ahead of Andrew & Sandra.
With two wins, John & Mel had the meeting secured but there was all to play for in the minor placings with any of the top portion of the fleet able to take second.
John & Mel continued their dominance and led the fleet home showing their skill in the changeable conditions. Roger & Sarah-Jane kept them on their toes and these two teams pulled away from the pack. Edward & Max Poet and Gareth & Polly were in contention after good starts and six boats ran to the Eastern end of the lake in close order. James & Helen positioned themselves to gain inside line at the gybe mark closed hounded by Ric & John and Andrew & Sandra. Bob & Maggie and Andrew & Sandra found a shorter next beat and pulled clear of Ric & John and these positions held until the finish.
Tea and cakes accompanied the prizegiving to round off a great days racing.