Icicle week 6 – Blown away!
After a couple of lighter weeks, competitors were taking the heavy forecast with a pinch of salt. However, as events unfolded on the water, the forecasters were proved correct and for most of the competitors this became a duathlon of sailing and swimming.
Competitors launched in 15 knots in relatively benign if cold conditions. However, by the time the Lasers got underway, gust of 25 knots were streaking down the Flash with building waves making it an uncomfortable ride on the committee boat with a bout of sleet to keep everyone warm….. There was no chance of any recalls this week as competitors made sure they didn’t have to restart in the prevailing conditions. The other fleets got underway in turn, but already many boats were on the edge.
A prolonged 35 knot squall half way through the first lap caused some carnage amongst the fleet, with many competitors self-selecting to bail out to the clubhouse, while some hardy souls kept going. Having assessed the conditions and the number of boats in trouble, Peter Baldwin had to make the call to abandon racing to allow the rescue boats to clean up!! The rescue crews were entertained for an hour or so recovering all remaining equipment, but with no injuries and boats largely intact.
Competitors were happy to recover in the shelter of clubhouse for some lunch while the Race Committee assessed the conditions.
The wind abated and settled to 15-20 knots with no sign of serious squalls, so the depleted fleet re-launched to have a go at the second race.
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Greg Marshall (LLSC) took an early lead in the race, but a capsize allowed Neil Skellam (LLSC) and Gary Knott (Pennine) to take charge with Neil winning out. Tim Keithley (West Riding) came home in 3rd place to keep his consistent series alive. With series leader Jack Hopkins away this week, the table has tightened up at the front of the fleet.
Only 5 competitors made it to the start line in the Handicap fleet but remarkably they all finished!! Andy Flitcroft (Bolton) made the most of the conditions to take the bullet in his Supernova, with Steve Blackburn (West Lancs) Streaking along in hot pursuit. Gareth Williams showed everyone how to fly in his Aero to take 3rd spot. Again, this race has closed up the leaderboard in this fleet.
The Asymmetrics were flying this week, two 29ers succumbing to retirements in the first race and missing the second, but the RS400s went for it in the second race, along with a lone RS100 in the shape of Greg Booth (Port Dinorwic). Dave Exley/Nigel Hall (LLSC) took an early lead but a swim from them saw Chris Pickles/Mark Lunn (Delph) take over and maintain their lead to the finish. 3rd place was hotly contested between Hamish Gledhill/Simon Dowse (West Riding) and Stuart Halman (LLSC), with Stuart winning out after Hamish’ capsize. A promising performance from Matt Velamont (Rotherham) in 4th in one his first times sailing an RS400.
Brian Sprague (LLSC) enhanced his lead in the series a win in the Solo fleet, with Mark Clearly (Budworth) picking up a very useful 2nd place. The only other starter Andy Fox retired due to the harsh conditions.
It was a tough day to be a junior, and Thomas Fielding-Link did half a lap in the race before retiring after 2 capsizes, so we had no finishers in the race, but a brave effort from him to get out and get round.
We’re over the half way point in the series now, and if these conditions prevail then we have some exciting racing ahead.
Full results available here:
The Tipsy Icicle Series now continues until March 11th every Sunday, series entries are now closed but competitors can still turn up and pay on the day.