The first event of the year of the popular RS200 SW Ugly Tour, sponsored by West Country Boat Repairs, kicked off at Bristol Corinthian YC on March 24th. A light wind forecast from a vaguely northerly direction promised many shifts, which will have been familiar to competitors of the earlier Winter Championships held at BCYC in February. Still, a healthy number of boats turned up for their first dose of close, friendly and super competitive racing throughout the fleet. Bacon sarnies, tea and coffee readied the fleet for four races back to back.
Race 1 started with the fleet arriving at the windward mark closely packed together, with the new RS rules meaning no more touching marks, keeping the fleet in order. Alistair Norris/Helen Summersgill started the event where they left off having won the Winter Championships, to take the win, with John Teague/Naomi Pound pulling through the fleet on the second run to take second place, with Jeremy/Rebecca Stephens taking third place from Nick Martindale/Ruth Kenyon and Andrew Barnett/Jo Lloyd.
Race 2 started with more shifting winds, with Norris/Summersgill and Teague/Pound glued together until the shorten course following a big wind shift left, with Norris/Summersgill sneaking the win on the final gybe to the finish. Liz Teague/Fred Mainwairing took third place from Stephens/Stephens in fourth place from Alistair Hodgson/Joanna Worrall in fifth.
Race 3 decided to mix up the conditions, which until this point had been a fairly consistent strength and some healthy shifts to keep the fleet on their toes, with a big shift on lap 3, with the wind then completely dropping to nothing for the leading pack. A frantic gybing match ensued between Martinale/Kenyon, Norris/Summersgill and Teague/Pound into the final mark, with the chasing pack now being propelled by a fresh breeze, with the charge being led by Stephens/Stephens. Teague/Pound ghosted across the line for the win, followed by Martindale/Kenyon and Norris/Summersgill in second and third. The chasing pack of 15 boats then crossed the line within around 5 boat lengths, giving Arky the race officer and his team quite a challenge! Circuit sponsor Pete Vincent of Westcountry Boat Repairs sneaked fourth sailing with Victoria Upton, from Jamie/Bettine Harris in fifth.
Into the final race, the fleet waited for the wind to fill in with little promise after a flat calm. However a treat was in store, with the best wind of the day stretching the legs of the fleet upwind now in full hiking mode. Martindale/Kenyon stormed into the lead with intent, leaving a battle between Norris/Summersgill, Stephens/Stephens and Teague/Pound snapping on their heels. These boats kept swapping places, with the event in the grasp of several teams, there was much at stake. Martindale/Kenyon kept them at bay to take the bullet from Teague/Pound, with Norris/Summersgill and Stephens/Stephens hot on their heels. Hodgson/Worrall took their second fifth place of the day in the chasing pack.
With the results looking very tight, the fleet de-rigged and changed, to be greeted with a fabulous spread of cake, the BCYC entry to the hotly contested inter-club cake competition that runs throughout the SW Ugly Tour. It's not all about the sailing! With the results in and the cake and tea flowing, the prize giving got underway, with Alistair Norris/Helen Summersgill from BCYC, taking their second win of the year after the Winter Champtionships, winning on count back from John Teague/Naomi Pound also from BCYC, it couldn't have been closer! Third place was won by the Chew Valley Lake race 4 winners, Nick Martindale/Ruth Kenyon, with fourth place from Jeremy and Rebecca Stephens travelling all the way from Penzance SC in deepest Cornwall. The silver fleet was won by Liz Teague/Fred Mainwairing from Exe SC, from Alistair Hodgson/Joanna Worrall from Worcester, with the Bronze fleet win going to Sarah and David Green from Llandefgedd, with local sailors Chris Baker/Jenni Wyatt in second place.
The next slice of SW Ugly Tour action takes us south to the very popular Parkstone YC on May 19th, in the picturesque Poole Harbour, where last year we had a monstor 47 boat turnout. You don't want to miss out on their legendary hospitality, make sure it's in your diary!