The 2019 Roadford Rocket proved to be an epic test of stamina and skill. The late forecast of increasing north-westerly winds and cold temperatures put off a number of the pre-entries, but the arrival of the top 5 competitors the Sailing Southwest Winter Series guaranteed a very close fought event.
There were 25 starters, with a number of retirements before the first lap was completed, and only 14 finishes at the end, with one boat finishing upside down, another standing on the bank, and another waiting patiently for the rolling finish! First off was the Laser Radial of Graham Dyer who was blown in twice in the same place within the first hundred metres, but he recovered to complete the race. He was followed shortly after by Ben Flower in his Laser, who soon established a good lead, which he held until lap 3 when he was overtaken by Iain Horlock in his Contender.
There were quite a number of capsizes round the course, and with the wind strength increasing, the long reach down the lake became a two sail reach which favoured the trapeze boats, but it was ferociously cold with spray. Iain maintained his lead until the final stages when he was overtaken by the Osprey of Terry Curtis and Peter Greig, but he stayed ahead of Nemo Hawkes crewed by his father Simon in their Osprey. The Fireball sailed by twins Anthony and James Wilcocks from Portishead just overhauled Ben Flower at the finish, with the RS Aero 9 sailed by Greg Bartlett in 6th place. Greg Bartlett recorded the highest speed on the course with 21 kn,( just short of the maximum recorded for an RS aero of 23 kn), and won one of the Allan Sailing performance prizes on the day, the other rewarding the endeavours of Chris Dyer in his Blaze for finishing upside down and refusing help from the rescue team until the race had finished!
Many thanks to all the helpers, the rescue teams stayed out for 2 ½ hours in extreme conditions, Sailing Southwest for their help in organisation and arranging sponsorship from GJW direct, Allen Sailing, Admiral trailers, and Exe Sails for their continued sponsorship of the event. Although part of the Sailing Southwest winter series, the Roadford Rocket is also the first of the original Southwest challenge series which continues with the Starcross Steamer next month.
Results: 1st Terry Curtis and Peter Greg, Osprey, Castle Cove . 2nd Iain Horlock, Contender, Exe SC. 3rd Nemo and Simon Hawkes, Castle Cove. 4th Anthony and James Wilcocks, Fireball, Portshead. 5th Ben Flower, Laser, Hayling Island. 6th Greg Bartlett, RS Aero 9, Starcross.
For the full result, series standings and more, head to the SSW Winter Series webpage.