South Staffs Burgee
South Staffordshire Sailing Club
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Lark Youth Championships Report

Monday 9th April 2012 at Waldringfield. S. C.

Two gallant boats made the long journey from South Staffs to the East coast for this year's event. Sam Blocksidge with Connie Hicklin crewing went to defend the title he won at South Staffs last year, whilst Will Croxford went with Eleanor Davies to contest the event for the last time he could qualify.

A day of rain signalled the Bank Holiday but at least that meant fewer vehicles on the road for the long journey. After a 6.00am start from the club the boats arrived at Waldringfield in plenty of time to rig for the 10.00am briefing. A straightforward triangle / sausage arrangement worked well for the first two races. The first race was to port and Will & Eleanor took an early lead which they never lost. However, in second slot was the first of the Waldringfield boats being chased hard by Sam & Connie. Eventually Sam & Connie pulled through to make it a great 1st & 2nd for South Staffs.

The second race started nearly as well with Will & Eleanor making the perfect start with Sam & Connie more in with the bunch. Being in the bunch quickly became clear to be the correct strategy as Sam & Connie rounded the windward mark 2nd and soon put sufficient pressure on the 1st boat to jump into the lead. There they stayed to win the second race. Further back Will & Eleanor were struggling for boat speed on the starboard rounding course and this seemed to be mainly due to the tidal conditions but they did pick up to 4th place to keep the pressure on.
After lunch with a higher tide the race officer moved the course up river. These new conditions seemed to favour the local boats although both the South Staffs boats had to contend with a return to the start having been too enthusiastic. Sam & Connie pushed hard but could only move up to 4th place by the finish. Will & Eleanor suffered even more and despite valiant efforts with the spinnaker on some very tight legs, were still some way behind when the brisk wind on the dead run caught them unawares and an undignified capsize finished their chance of a reasonable result.

There was all to play for in the last race. Either of the South Staffs boats could win the event as could two of the Waldringfield boats. Although Will & Eleanor made a better start, Sam & Connie were called back which rather spoiled their chances of a win. Will & Eleanor kept pushing hard and eventually pulled up to 2nd. Although they stayed very close to the 3rd boat they managed to keep the initiative right up to the finish. This looked good enough to give them 3rd overall but that relegated Sam & Connie to 4th. To the surprise of Will & Eleanor, the race committee protested them for hitting the last mark and with no witnesses to support their cause Sam & Connie were elevated to 3rd leaving 1st & 2nd overall to home boats.

Despite the disappointment at the final results, four hard and closely fought races were fitted in expertly by the race officer. The 13 competitors enjoyed the fresh wind which gave plenty of excitement and exhilarating sailing but fortunately not the survival conditions that the forecast predicted.

Tony Hotchkiss - 12th April 2012

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