Sailing Sailers shine in windy conditions

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A tense moment rounding the mark in Fireflies. Picture by Malcolm Lewin.

THE SIXTH Interfleet Championships at Draycote Water Sailing Club proved to be the windiest yet, with some spectacular capsizes and tough competition throughout.

The event was between six of the main fleets at Draycote and consisted of 18 short races (each with six boats – one for each fleet) in the club’s singlehanded Pico dinghies, Warwick University’s two-man Fireflies and Onboard’s windsurfers.

Conditions looked doubtful for sailing a 10am as the wind was averaging 25mph but it eventually abated sufficiently to let the action begin and the six Picos were launched.

The first race rather reflected the fortunes of the day with the Solo fleet captain, Jon Hughes, winning, followed by the Laser’s Serena de Nahlik and then the Fireball fleet. The Lasers won the next race, with Solos second and Fireballs again third.

However, capsizes – and the ensuing compulsory retirement from that race – were affecting the other fleets as the Menagerie fleet capsized in the first two races, and the Miracle fleet in the second.

In the fourth race, the Menagerie fleet bounced back from their two previous capsizes and won from the Solos and the the ever consistent Fireballs. This time it was the turn of the Lasers to capsize.

At the midway stage the Solo fleet were ahead with the Fireballs and Lasers equal second.

After lunch, the Fireflies and Windsurfers were launched as well and the competition got more frenetic. At various stages during the afternoon, the Fireball and Laser fleets levelled their scores with the leading Solo fleet, but they were never able to move ahead.

With two races to go the Solos had a slender three-point lead over the Lasers and a four-point lead over the Fireballs. However, the challengers had an appalling last Pico race, coming last and second last, and putting paid to their chances of overtaking the Solos.

The Lasers still had a two point lead over the Fireballs, but the final race of the day allowed Fireball captain, Mike Deane, to show that he has not lost his skill as a windsurfer despite many years away from it.

He won the race and bought the Fireballs up to equal second with the Lasers, behind the victorious Solo fleet, who recaptured the Onboard Trophy for the second time in three years.

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Pete McCrea of the Solo fleet hikes out hard in a Pico. Picture by Malcolm Lewin.

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Strong winds made for exciting sailing. Picture by Malcolm Lewin.

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A close finish in one of the Pico races. Picture by Malcolm Lewin.

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