A strong entry list of 18 boats was drawn to the first event of the Squib Travellers' Trophy over the Mayday Bank Holiday with the prospect of eight short course windward/leeward races. However with the wind blowing dogs off their chains on Saturday, the fleet was significantly reduced to nine boats with Brimstone (Bryan and the NSOA chairman Jenny Riley) not launching, Humphrey (Robert and Tracey Coyle), Caesar (John and Sue Hardy new to fleet and runner up at Easter’s Mike Flint Regatta) among others deciding not to sail.
PRO Edwin Buckley, after much difficulty in 25-knot winds, managed to set up a course across the river and get the fleet away for Race 1. This was a close race with the first three boats finishing within 10 seconds giving Tears in Heaven (Peter Marchant/Mark Rawinsky) the win, Spoof (Micky Wright/Chris Dunn) second and Lady Penelope (Malcolm Hutchings/Andy Ramsey) third.
With a shifty, gusty NE breeze and ebbing tide giving lumpy conditions, the fleet enjoyed close racing with big gains and losses surfing downwind. Race 2 saw Spoof, Tears and Lady P trading places around the course. At the final leeward mark with a short beat to finish Spoof was leading but had a jammed spinnaker halyard and with the kite only half down struggled towards finish. Lady P rounded with Tears right on her transom and managed to lay the committee boat to squeeze a win. Spoof was caught on starboard by Tears and, crash-tacking to avoid collision, ended up losing a place, her spinnaker and, unfortunately, her mast.
Elsewhere, Frodo (Mike Bradley/Alex Porteous) had learnt how to submerge a squib while gybing and so to avoid further chaos the fleet was sent home. This left Tears leading from Lady P with Guy Fawkes (Phil Aspinall/Howard Enkel) in third just ahead of another new boat to the fleet Surprise (Duncan Grindley/Chris Jones).
Sunday morning (after the usual excellent partying in the Corinthian alongside the 707 fleet) brought the same windy conditions. The early afternoon starts enabled Spoof to rig another mast, thanks to Squib rigger, Ian Simons. Humphrey also joined fleet with Robert persuading or being persuaded to a guest appearance from Andy Carley. In Race 3, after a tricky fair tide start which saw most of the front runners having to bail out early, Lady P sailed to an unchallenged win with Spoof second and Humphrey pipping Tears to third.
Race 4 was the downfall of a couple of boats again with very close racing in the conditions. Humphrey, Tears, Spoof and Lady P were all battling but Spoof had another problem at the leeward mark and headed home for the day. This left Lady P just in front of Humphrey and Tears at the last windward mark.
Humphrey blasted into the lead in a cloud of spray utilising a strong gust and a daring deep run while Tears (after announcing the previous evening that sailmaker Nigel Grogan’s borrowed spinnaker looked great) blew her kite apart. This gave Humphrey the win with Lady P second and Tears just managing to hold on to third. Humphrey decided to retire for the day and sail for home and the rest of fleet started to follow like sheep until the PRO emphatically announced the start sequence for Race 5.
Race 5 saw Tears and Lady P match racing with Lady P leading at last windward mark but their slow spinnaker hoist allowed Tears to sail very deep and almost by the lee to lead at leeward mark with Lady P second and Brutus (Simon Griffin/Gina Porteous) in third. Surprise and Guy Fawkes, the only other boats to complete every race, were battling out each race for third spot on the podium.
At the final turn, Guy Fawkes misjudged the tide, hitting the leeward mark so lost their position and third place overall to Surprise during their penalty turn. Monday morning brought even more breeze and an unfavourable forecast so racing was cancelled for day. This brought the biggest smile of relief from Malcolm’s partner Jackie Tracey who was going to be crewing for “the Boss” Peter Marchant.
There were no discards allowed in the reduced five race series making Lady Penelope M Hutchings/A Ramsey (9 points) winners of the Squib Gold Cup, two points clear of Tears in Heaven P Marchant/M Rawinsky who took the silver cup for runner up. The battle for third was won by Surprise D Grindley/C Jones (23 points) by one point from Guy Fawkes P Aspinall/H Enkel.
At the prize giving massive thanks were given to Edwin Buckley and his team for the racing with particular thanks to the hard worked RIB driver Mark Eagling and his two assistants Paul and Stewart Buckley. It was a shame that the two visitors couldn’t sail but we know that they will return next year, given the prospect of such good close quarter racing. The Burnham fleet is looking strong with new boats and new crew combinations and additionally we are training the Porteous sisters from the Isle of Wight that “The Only Way Is Essex”.
Full results for the Gold Cup are available here...