Even with the light wind forecast a healthy fleet of 24 Fireballs made it to the River Blackwater for the club's annual open.
Saturday's race started in a light but promising breeze. The fleet got away first time with Ian Dobson & Richard Wagstaff rounding the windward mark first followed by the clubs fleet captain Charlie Stewart. Down the first reach the wind all but died and with what little there was being patchy to say the least a few place changes took place. Steve Jarred & Nick Collins held on to their spinnaker the longest and looked to take the lead, however it was Tom Gillard & Richard Anderson followed by Dave Hall & Paul Constable that squeezed around the gybe mark first. With the race shortened at the leeward mark these two positions stayed the same with Ian & Richard recovering to 4th behind Peter & Tom Kyne. With it looking like no more wind would be forthcoming and a falling tide the fleet were sent home and later enjoyed a fish and chip supper.
Sunday's forecast was a little more promising but with the heavy thunder showers and hot sunshine it made the task for the race officer extremely challenging as the wind swung around the estuary. After a delay and an aborted start the fleet eventually got away in the lightest of winds. The light wind lead to some rather overzealous but often not very effect role tacking, one such incident had the team of Lucy & Tim Riley overdo it somewhat ending up in a swim for Lucy as their sails hit the water and the mast got stuck in the mud. Ian & Richard once again were on the ball and got off the line well followed by Tom & Richard. Moments after the start the wind shifted and filled in from the right making the first beat into a reach. However, the race officer seeing that no one had been disadvantaged let the race carry on. With the beat becoming a reach and the reaches a beat it lead to a bit of confusion with which buoy to go to and a number of teams including Tom & Richard deciding to go to the gybe mark in place of the windward mark. In the end Ian & Richard held onto the lead followed in by Simon & Tom Maskell.
With the wind still not wanting to play ball it was tough, but the race team were determined to get another race started eventually getting it away again in the lightest of breeze. Off the start line it was again Ian and Richard who were placed well along with Richard Cornes & James Goodfellow. However down to leeward Dave & Paul and Peter & Tom pulled out from the fleet with Peter & Tom taking out what looked like a huge lead only to be swallowed up at the first mark by the fleet as they closed in on a zephyr from behind. Mark Maskell & Nigel Sheppard took full advantage of it rounding the top mark first – a position they held onto the finish in spite of a strong challenge from Ian & Richard.
Blackwater did a great job under very difficult conditions making everyone very welcome. A big thanks must go to Barry Foulds – long suffering PRO and his team and to Charlie and the club members he rallied to help run a great weekend.
1st Ian Dobson & Richard Wagstaff
2nd Peter Kyne & Tom Kyne
3rd Mark Maskell & Nigel Shepherd