The May Bank Holiday Weekend saw the 707 Eastern Area Championships held at RCYC. The championships were contested by eight boats, five from Burnham, two from Hartlepool & one from Scarborough. After the perfect sailing conditions of the previous few days & an excellent Beer Festival at the RCYC, it came as a bit of a shock to have to sail in 27plus knots of wind on the first day.
The later start gave time for the Race Officer Kim Allen to set an almost perfect windward leeward course to the west side of the river Roach, which due to the constant wind direction didn’t need much tweaking for all three races of the day.
The first race got off to a good start for all of the fleet with the exception of John Lewis in Baby Beluga who decided that it was not very good trying to sail to windward with a Jib in two parts, so had to watch as a spectator for the next three laps. Richard Bavin in Racehorse led the fleet to the first windward mark followed by Dave Boatman in Outlaw & Paul Gray in Beaver Hunter closely followed by the rest of the fleet.
Racehorse took a commanding lead down the run with only themselves & Beaver Hunter being quick to hoist their spinnakers: this then looked almost like a one (Race) horse race until a gust of wind & the wrong distribution of weight made for one of the most spectacular broaches of the day! The next two laps produced a closely fought race with Beaver Hunter , taking line honours from Outlaw , Andrew Hughes in Sharky & Racehorse . Unfortunately John Giles in Swallow had to retire with a detached forestay, which meant he missed the next two races as well!
Race 2 got underway as soon as the last boat finished the first race. Beaver Hunter had a very poor start and its crew was surprised to be in contention at the windward markafter which the race was closely fought with Outlaw, Beaver Hunter, Racehorse, Mick Hill in Swordfish, Baby Beluga & Tom Patrick in Stormchaser. This was a tight fought race with Beaver Hunte r just taking line honours from Racehorse with Outlaw 3rd & Swordfish 4th. Again Baby Beluga was having a slight problem with sails but this time it was the main which, after finishing in 6th place, was discovered to be held together by the 707 logo!
There was no point in having a break between races as the wind was increasing, so the Race Officer soon got us under way for the third & final race of the day. It was another closely fought race around the entire course, with Racehorse again showing the fleet how to do the most spectacular broach. Swordfish was keeping out of the deep channel because of the waves but took it too far & had to be towed off the north shore. Baby Beluga with a replacement main & jib led the race from start to finish; Beaver Hunte r came in 2nd with Outlaw 3rd.
Sunday morning was very much like Saturday, with a slightly increased wind but forecast to get even stronger later in the day. Mick Hill took this opportunity to take his RIB out instead of Swordfish, thus gaining some good photos of the racing & acting as a second much needed safety boat.
Race 4 got off to a good start with Racehorse, Baby Beluga, Stormchaser & Beaver Hunter challenging for the lead down the run. Towards the leeward mark Beaver Hunter gybed but failed to hold the spinnaker in the gust that followed, with the outcome being that the jib got caught around the forestay and with no jib it was only a matter of time before Beaver Hunter met the lee shore. Without the threat of Beaver Hunter, Baby Beluga went on to win from Storm Chaser in second place with Racehorse in third, Sharky and Swallow in 4th and 5th.
With the wind at about 30 knots the 5th race got under way, again a close race to the windward mark with Swallow right up there with the leaders (but sadly OCS). On the first lap Baby Beluga & Racehorse got away from Beaver Hunter & Stormchaser , but with a better angle on the last run Beaver Hunter passed Racehorse & caught up Baby Beluga with BB just crossing the finish line ahead of BH. Unfortunately just towards the last leeward mark Outlaw lost a crew member with a serious injury, with this & the increasing wind strength, the Race Officer abandoned racing for the day.
Monday saw an earlier start but the wind had increased with gusts over 35 knots, the Race Officer Kim Allen took the wise decision to cancel racing for the day, thus bringing the championship to an early conclusion.
Many thanks to Teresa Giles for the hundreds of excellent photos.
Full results are available here...