The 2017 John Ashley Long Distance race took place on Sunday 2nd July. The weather was bright and sunny with wind speeds of 4 knots. Race officer Mark Houle set a challenging course, heading first to the Bandstand buoy, then out to the Clevedon buoy, up the channel to the Avon buoy and back to the Pier. A total of 13 boats were at the start line, with visitors from other clubs taking on the challenge of sailing at Clevedon.
Immediately the Willcocks twins in their Fireball took a 720 penalty for hitting another boat, although they quickly raced to catch up with the fleet. Heading out towards the Clevedon mark, the fleet initially stayed together but several capsized in the difficult conditions. Offshore the wind was picking up, and large waves were making life tough for the sailors. Both of the rescue boats were kept busy responding to capsizes. The three race leaders, a Contender, a Tasar and the Fireball surged ahead, and after the first lap the decision was made to allow only these boats to complete a second lap. In total 6 boats completed a single lap, as the others were forced to retire.
The building wind speeds meant that the boats that completed a second lap benefited from improved average lap times. The race was won for the second year running by James and Anthony Willcocks, in their Fireball. Although Paul Hield crossed the line second in his Contender, he was pipped to second on the handicap by Anthony Rees and Kevin Watts in the Tasar.
Photos: Winners James and Anthony Wilcocks (top), Anthony Rees & Kevin Watts (bottom left) Paul Hield (bottom right)