Europe & Miracle Open 8/9th July
Saturday 8th July dawned with a disappointing forecast from the wind strength point of view although the predicted direction was ideal for sailing at Leigh and Lowton; straight down the length of the lake. Three boats made the long drive north from the south and south-west of England to compete for the Europe Inland Shield whilst two local boats and two from Delph Sailing Club competed for the Miracle Inland Cup. In the end, by the start of the first race (a practice race for the Miracles) the wind had filled in and for the race averaged 8knots with a 17knot gust coming through at one point.
In the Europes, Lucy Boreham from Chichester YC took the lead from the start and led the other boats around the windward mark with Andrew Harris from Chew Valley Lake SC in second and Geoff Newman, also from Chichester. This sequence stayed throughout the race until the final gun.
In the Miracles practice race, with Ashley Southwell (LLSC) still putting the finishing touches to his new boat and Ian Brown (Delph SC) not making it for the start, it was left to Dave Southwell, sailing with Rebecca Southwell (LLSC), and Louis Moulden (Delph SC), sailing with Ross Southwell (LLSC), to fight it out. Louis held the lead from the start of the race and finished ahead of Dave. According to the Miracle guru on the committee boat during that race, there is a superstition amongst Miracle sailors that if you win the practice race you won’t win the trophy. Time would tell whether this prediction would come true.
After a spot of lunch, the boats returned to the water along with the handicap fleet from the host club. By now, Ashley had finished his assembly work, sailing with Michelle Raines and Ian Brown was on the water, crewed by son James. The wind was holding a constant strength but not always a constant direction, with shifts of up to 60 degrees not being unusual. The Europes went away first and, again, Lucy led the fleet around the course followed by Andrew and Geoff and the three finished in the same order with Lucy showing a 4 minute margin by the end of the race. In the Miracles, Dave led the fleet away and held the lead throughout the race although Louis was not far off the pace, finishing less than a minutes behind Dave. Ashley seemed to be having a few flotation issues as Michelle was seen to be bailing the boat at various times but he hung on to finish ¾ minute behind Louis with Ian in fourth place a minute or so later.
For the last race of the day, the wind provided further good sailing conditions and the fleets got away nicely with Lucy once again taking the Europes around the course for the length of the race but this time Andrew kept the margin down and she won by less than a minute. Dave once again led the Miracles around and finished with a wider margin ahead of Louis with Ashley again in third place. So, at the end of the day, Lucy was leading the Europes with three bullets and Dave, the Miracles, with two.
Sunday dawned with a sunny disposition but with very patchy wind on the racecourse. The fleets went out for their first race in a small amount of breeze but by the time they arrived at the committee boat, the breeze had disappeared. Mike Baldwin, the Race Officer, launched the postponement pennant and the sailors sat around for 20 minutes waiting for the wind to appear. The breeze appeared and the sailors set off, only to be abandoned by the wind halfway up the first beat. They gamely struggled to the top of the beat where the breeze did start to come good again. This time, it was Andrew who was leading the Europes having made a good start and obtaining a reasonable margin despite the uncertain breeze which, although it provided a 9.5knot gust only averaged 3 knots for the race. He led the Europes around the course and the race was finished after only two laps of a relatively small course with Lucy in second place and Geoff third. Louis showed that he was the man for these conditions and he led the Miracles around the course with Dave finishing behind him, Ashley third and Ian fourth, this time with daughter Lilly as crew.
By the time the LLSC club boats appeared for the next race, the breeze had established its strength as it had done on the previous day with 8-9knots but still with dramatic shifts which, at times, threatened the start sequence, but miraculously swinging back to be in the right direction for the starts. For this race Lucy got herself back into the groove and led the Europes around the course, finishing over 1 minute ahead of Andrew with Geoff in third. Louis maintained his earlier form and led the Miracles around the course once again with Dave in second, a full minute behind and Ashley third. So, as they went into the clubhouse for lunch, it was all even with Dave and Louis having two firsts and two seconds each and all to go for in the final race of the day.
After lunch, with a slightly strengthening breeze, the Europes once again went off as the first start and Lucy showed that she would not hold back and again led the fleet from start to finish. The racing was a little closer this time but she still took the final gun, giving her the Inland Shield with five bullets. In the Miracles, Dave and Rebecca came out of the starting blocks as a crew on a mission and took the final finish gun well ahead of the rest of the fleet with Louis and Ross in second, Ashley and Michelle in third and Ian and Lilly in fourth, giving Dave and Rebecca the overall first place.
Report and Photos by Mike Baldwin