A high quality fleet with World, European and National champions present arrived at Burnham-on-Crouch with the promise of warmer conditions and good southerly breezes. It was a bit warmer but virtually everyone was still seen donning their thermals and drysuits.
Saturdays racing consisted of two river races around the cans. Race 1 started off the entrance to the marina and took the fleet on a long reach down the river against the incoming tide to the confluence of the Roach and the Crouch. Boats choosing the North shore came out clear ahead leaving current European champion Greg Wells sailing with James Grant regretting their decision to use the South shore as they were last by some distance at the first mark! Richard Lovering/Matt Alvarado continued their impressive early season form to win the race comfortably. A good battle took place for second with Adrian Tattersall/Tim Smart eventually outdoing newcomers to the fleet Stephen Hopson/Nigel King. Race 2 sorted the men out from the boys. A long 2 hour course was set which finished with a 3 mile three sail planning reach against the now turned tide back to the finish line near the RCYC clubhouse. A good race developed between Lovering/Alvarado, Wells/Grant and Charles Apthorp sailing with David Rickards. At the last mark before the long spinny reach home, Lovering was in control but behind him Wells went low and Apthorp went high. Apthorp was in the groove and sailed through to win while Lovering managed to keep Wells at bay to finish 2nd.
Sunday dawned with beautiful cloudless skies and a stiff southerly. The format for today’s racing was 3, 40 minute windward/leewards and given the wind direction these were held in the south to north flowing River Roach. Conditions were spectacular and the courses worked perfectly with lots of nip and tuck action upwind and fast planning runs downwind. As the day progressed the wind increased and so did the excitement as the Fifteens revelled in these conditions. Wells/Grant were having a great day and won the first two races to set up a last race showdown between themselves and Lovering/Alvarado and what a race it was… With the wind now gusting 25 knots, Lovering made another great start and led narrowly from Wells at the first windward mark. At the leeward gate Lovering broached and Wells slipped through and led at the 2nd windward mark with Lovering and Apthorp rounding neck a neck just behind. On the run, Wells and Apthorp both gybed set and headed for the west shore but Lovering sailed on down the East shore and led at the Leeward gate. Up the final beat Wells just regained the lead at the windward mark and this time headed for the East shore but Lovering sailed high and fast and re-took the lead. Halfway down the run it looked like Wells had just moved ahead again but he hit the putty, panic gybed and wrapped the kite leaving Lovering/Alvarado to win both the race and well deserved overall honours.
A big thank you to the members of the RCYC for putting on a great weekend and especially to Justin Waples who I know had put a lot of effort into this event.