British Keelboat League Qualifier 8 Jun 2021
10 teams from 8 clubs took part in the British Keelboat League qualifier event, competing in a series of short fleet races in the Club’s 707s. The RCYC and Otters had 4 teams with a wealth of experience so expectations were high. On a day when the wind gods clearly decided they had better things to be doing, Edwin and Team Phoebe managed to get courses set and races underway when there was enough wind (from many directions…), but it was without doubt a challenging day !
The RCYC teams led the way from the off, with Carl Anderson and team claiming the first win in a re-run of the first race (it had to be abandoned when the wind switched off and boats were going backwards away from the windward mark….) with the Otters second and Red Rooster (Phil Aspinall and team) in third. Red Rooster then took up the baton and led the fleet home in race 2, with Jamie Mears close behind, which set up a close battle with the West Mersea Team, led by Jack Grogan, in the subsequent races.
Periods of wind were met with a flurry of activity as teams had to change boats quickly to make the most of the conditions. Ant Law, who had kindly provided his beach hut as a mother ship, had an endless supply of good cheer (and brownies !) to keep spirits up. Eventually, late in the afternoon, a sea breeze finally battled its way up the river and allowed for a last flourish of racing in glorious conditions, and with 10 races completed Jamie Mears’ team, following a couple of wins with big leads over the other teams, held a healthy overnight lead as teams returned to the club for a well earned beer and some sustenance.
Sunday dawned bright and sunny, but with with no wind…. However, a sea breeze arrived around mid morning and teams were quickly put aboard the boats and made their way down towards pile house. Mr Mears and team picked up where they had left off and with scores being tallied according to the average score over the number of races each team had sailed, consistency was key (helped by an impressive recovery following a possible OCS) and they maintained their lead over Jack Grogan and the West Mersea Team, and Phil and team Red Rooster, with Hayling Island nipping at their heels.
After 20 races, the RCYC team of Jamie Mears, Mel Titmus, Alex Porteous and Nic Tolhurst claimed first place overall, thus securing themselves a place in the national finals at Poole in September, followed by the team from West Mersea (Jack Grogan, Alison Aspinall, Mike Banks, Jon Banks), with Hayling Island third (Finley Dickinson, Timothy Dickinson, Samantha Edwards, Stephenie Dickinson, Sam Dickinson) having found their form late in the day.
The Royal Corinthian teams placed 4th (Red Rooster – Phil Aspinall, Ray Apthorp, Julia Batchelor, Petru Balau, Keith Gilmore and Dave Sheppard), 5th (Otters – Micky Wright, Milly Drew, Ben Hutton-Penman, Jemima Cook, and Ethan Hague), and 9th on count-back (Carl Anderson, Jason Phelps, Bill Wright, Nick Clark, and Kathryn Hutton Penman). Congratulations to all.
Many thanks to everyone involved in prepping the boats, running the racing, getting teams to the right place at the right times, and ensuring that all competitors enjoyed an amazing weekend of close racing with a chance to re-run the races in the club afterwards ! And also thanks to our neighbours at the Burnham Sailing Club for being such gracious hosts and looking after competitors while they waited for their races.