The inaugural Tewkesbury Albacore Open Meeting was held on Saturday 24th May. Possibly to remind us all of last winter's flooding the heavens opened early in the morning making for testing driving conditions. Not to be deterred the visiting boats turned up in time for bacon baps and hot drinks and to check out the flood levels from last winter. As if on cue, the rain reduced to a light drizzle. Rigging complete we were all briefed by Race Officer Olly Hopkins. Interesting to note was the local byelaw that sail gives way to power on the River Avon!
Nine boats lined up for the start by the race box and on the start signal headed upstream towards the top mark. Conditions were tricky as the wind was light and it was hard making ground upstream against the current. Gradually the fleet spread out with Nev Herbert and Mark Fowler in 8192 taking an early lead followed by Pete Lawrence and Fi in 8211. The mid fleet group followed as the two Ovingtons built up a considerable lead. This group was made up of Matthew & Paul Metcalfe-Smith, John & Lynda Howard, Tim Coleman & Ellie Thompson and Matt & Heather Thompson. The final group was Dave Whittle & Heather, Andy Pearce & Ian Simpson and Andy & Hazel Smith. After rounding the windward mark the course was downstream to the leeward bottom mark and then back upstream once more to a mid-course mark before turning downstream to the bottom mark for the last time and then a short beat to the finish line by the race hut. The finishing order was Nev, Pete, Matthew, John and Tim taking the first five places with Andy Pearce sixth and Dave seventh. Matt Thompson and Andy Smith retired. There was some mention of having to open the bar for lunch!
During the lunch break the wind picked up and did a 180 degree shift. Race two started beating downstream past the club house for the short leg to the bottom mark. Rounding this it was back upstream again to the top mark. This was now a long down-wind leg and with the improved wind the boats were soon split into groups following either bank to keep out of the current. Again the two boats of Nev and Pete led and the chasing group constantly swapped places as they attempted to gain positions. Rounding the top mark the course became a rapid tacking contest which soon sorted out the order. Although the competition remained close throughout this and the following upstream and downstream legs the final finishing order was Nev, Pete, Tim, Andy Pearce, Dave Whittle, John, Matt Thompson and Andy Smith; Matthew retired.
Race 3 started after a short break and, with the wind now a steady force 3, the beat to the bottom mark was close with many calls for 'water to tack'. The fleet managed the leg without incident and the race followed a similar pattern to Race 2. Again the two lead boats of Nev and Pete pulled out a lead on the down-wind leg and the chasing group fought a close battle. This continued to the top mark followed by another close fast-tacking contest. On the final down-wind leg the three boats of Tim, Matthew and Andy Pearce contested third place. Andy finally got the inside line at the top mark and rounded first and with Tim collecting a penalty Matthew took up the chase down the final leg. Nev won with Pete coming second. Andy finally managed to pull a couple of boat lengths clear of Matthew to secure third place. These positions were also the event results as Andy beat Matthew on count back due to finishing ahead in the final race. Tim finished Race 3 in sixth following his penalty, John having secured fifth. Dave finished seventh with Matt Thompson and Andy Smith retiring. The remaining event results were Tim Coleman in fifth, John Howard in sixth, and Dave Whittle in seventh with Matt Thompson finishing eighth and Andy Smith ninth.
Matt presented the prizes thanking the club team and visiting boats. Nev thanked Matt and the team. Matt announced that the event would be staged again in 2214!
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