Squib Last Chance Regatta 21 Oct 2006
Once again the Squib Last Chance Regatta had the desired affect of getting Squib owners to re-launch their boats after the Inland Championships at Rutland and sail the club autumn series followed by this event. Eleven boats entered for the weekend despite very strong winds being forecast for the two days, earlier in the week.
With a South-South West wind force 4-5 on the Saturday, the Race Committee set up the windward leeward course, with the Committee Boat just inside the Roach and the windward mark just beyond the Jubilee buoy.
Race 1 got underway in blustery conditions and a very close all clear start. Unfortunately Paul Tavinor retired for the day, finding conditions a bit too strenuous for someone who’d seen more spring tides than anyone else in the fleet. After the first lap the Race Committee noticed that the crew of Blue Chip was practising their swimming too far away from the boat to get back. However a quick pick up by the mark laying RIB soon had a full compliment back on board, ready for the next race. Close racing saw many place changes, but eventually Robert Coyle came out on top, with Malcolm Hutchins and Paul Buckley coming in close behind.
Race 2 saw another close all clear start and again the front places changed frequently. Simon Griffin had to retire with a broken mainsail boom outhaul and unfortunately missed the third race while repairs were carried out. Again Robert Coyle squeezed in at the finish to narrowly take line honours, followed by Chris Goodfellow and Malcolm Hutchins.
Race 3 saw yet another close start but this proved to be a race with a difference. The start had been in the breezy but warm conditions that had been experienced throughout the day, but during lap 2, the Race Committee noticed a narrow band of bad weather advancing across the farmland on Wallasea Island, directly inline with the course. When this line of weather hit, increased wind and heavy rain and hailstones were experienced. Although the leeward gate buoys were only about 50 metres behind the Committee Boat, the Race Committee could not see them or any of the fleet. The weather passed, the sun came out and the fleet was virtually becalmed for a few minutes before the steady breeze set back in, still in the same direction. The Race Committee quickly noticed two boats with their main sail down, having retired, but also realised that the surface of the River Roach was nearer to Robert Coyle’s gunwales than his water line! The RIB raced over, with two large buckets and some rapid bailing made sure that Humphrey stayed afloat, despite having suffered a knock down with her spinnaker up. Meanwhile the rest of the fleet was still racing, Malcolm Hutchins took line honours, with Chris Goodfellow and Paul Buckley following him home.
After day one, Malcolm was in the lead, with Chris two points behind and Robert a further two points behind him, but with his two firsts and a retirement was looking forward to the discard kicking in after Race 4.
With even more wind forecast for Sunday, the Race Committee was keen to get Race 4 away on time to beat the poorer weather expected in the afternoon. Another close all clear start produced a great race with Malcolm, Chris, Robert and Paul frequently changing places. On the last lap it could have been anyone’s race, with Robert and Malcolm coming into the leeward gate side by side and Malcolm forcing Robert to round the easterly buoy, leaving the westerly one clear for him to get out into the stronger favourable tide on the beat to the finish. This allowed Paul Buckley to enjoy clear sailing and come home to win, being followed by Malcolm and Robert.
With one race to go Malcolm and Robert were on 5 points, Paul on 7 and Chris on 8, three points between the first four places guaranteeing some very intense racing in store for the last race.
Another good start in Race 5 saw Chris try and clear the fleet on port from the pin end buoy which had about ten degrees of bias. This almost worked but Simon Griffin just caught him on starboard, which meant he finished up dipping the whole fleet. Once more the lead changed a couple of times on each lap. Malcolm and Robert seemed determined to sail each other out of it, ignoring the rest of the fleet for the last couple of laps. They seemed determined that neither of them would be allowed to sail around either of the leeward buoys on the last lap. Meanwhile Simon, having got away cleanly at the start, sailed into a good lead, which he held to the finish. The intense battle for second and third between Malcolm and Robert allowed Paul to sail off keeping clear of them and take second with Robert getting in front of Malcolm on the last short leg to take third.
Final results saw Robert win overall due to two first places to Malcolm’s one and just one point between the first three places, the third being taken by Paul. Despite the great close racing and the regatta not being decided until the last leg of the last lap of the last race, the tradition at the prize-giving for the Last Chance Regatta was maintained, with every helm and crew going home with a bottle of wine as their prize for taking part.