At Bewl Water in Kent the Flying Fifteen fleet is back up to strength with 25 boats sailing under the banner of the Bewl Sailing Association (BSA), with racing taking place on Sundays throughout the year.
Firmly re-establishing BSA back on the circuit, the Fifteens held their second open meeting, with prizes sponsored by Hoad’s Korkers, over the weekend of 8-9 April, this being the first open event in the Flying Fifteen’s 70th anniversary year. Four visitors joined the ten home fleet boats, with light winds producing challenging but exciting racing.
At 9.00am on the Saturday, the lake was covered in a heavy mist, so thick that the rowers didn’t even venture out for risk of not finding their way back. By 10.00am the mist was lifting but there was hardly a ripple on the water and mutterings were heard that we should be asking our landlord, Markerstudy, if they could provide their fleet of Pedallos for us.
Fortunately, by the time of the briefing at 11.15, and a scheduled first start of mid-day, the race officer, Martin Brooking and his team from the Laser fleet, had enough wind to lay a challenging trapezoid course. Three, three-lap, races each of about an hour were held, with the start line having to be adjusted during the afternoon as the southwesterly sea breeze settled in.
Ian Cadwallader and Dave Sweet from Chew Valley in the first outing in their brand new Fifteen, No. 4055, took an early lead in the first race which they held until the gun. The battle in this race was for the next three places with positions changing on each lap. It ended with Robert Hogben and Glyn Morgan (3953) from the home fleet just pipping Brett Dingwall and Ian Scarisbrook (3875) from Aldenham on the last lap, with Colin Nutt and Chris Hough (3898), also from Bewl, a short distance behind.
By the second race, Brett had got into his stride, increasing his lead over Ian lap-by-lap eventually finishing one and a quarter minutes ahead. Robert Hogben (3953) from Bewl had worked his way up from sixth after the first lap to fifth by the second, finally finishing in third place. Andrew Farmer and Beccah Odgan (3465) from Notts County had now joined the fray, finishing fourth.
That left Ian and Brett to battle it out in the third race for the honour of leading the table at the end of the first day. Brett led Ian for the first two laps with just 11 seconds separating them on the first lap and 21 seconds on the second lap but Ian and Andrew passed Brett on the third with Ian winning by just 18 seconds from Andrew, and Brett just seconds behind in third place, Colin in fourth and Robert, fifth.
The visitors had certainly shown the home team the way to produce results on the first day and the various usual explanations, such as having to do turns or getting the spinnaker under the boat, being the often-heard excuses.
Competitors and friends then enjoyed a meal in the evening at which a 70th birthday cake was produced. The assembled “choir” sang “happy birthday” to Flying Fifteens before devouring every last bit of cake.
Sunday again produced a clear blue sky with a temperature getting up to 17 -18 degrees but more importantly for us, a slightly increased 10-12 knot south/south-westerly wind. With only two scheduled races for this final day, the race officer set a similar but larger course to the previous day.
His first time sailing at Bewl, overnight Andrew had clearly worked out the tactics of sailing at this lake and in the first race of the day he led the whole three laps challenged all the while by Ian and Brett with only 40 seconds separating them all at the finish. Jim Vince and Geoff Hilton (3912) from the home fleet scored a creditable fourth, with Robert, fifth.
The final race of the day was over four laps with the usual three boats competing for top spot but this time Mike and Jamie Blacklee (3842) of Bewl were getting in the mix and finished the race in a creditable fourth position. Ian had led for the first two laps but Andrew wasn’t going to let him get away with another win and took the lead at the half way point which he held onto until the end, giving him his second win of the series.
A great weekend of sailing which, with the lighter winds, did not give any advantage to the heavier crews and, with Andrew’s two wins in the oldest boat in the competition, it was again shown that it is skill and not necessarily a new boat that can win races. However, in the final count-up, it was the newest boat that had won the day with Ian and Dave taking the winner’s trophy home. Andrew and Beccah were second with Brett and Ian third. Robert and Glyn finished fourth overall, winning the Best Bewl Boat trophy.
Full Results attached to this report.
[ Report by Keith Bromhead]