Dramatic weather dominated the second Heron Open meeting at Bewl where the single home boat was joined by seven visiting boats: four from Chipstead Sailing Club, one from West Kirby Sailing Club, one from Yeadon Sailing Club near Leeds and one from Welton Sailing Club near Hull. The boats were rigged in bright sunshine and sailed out to the Committee boat near the middle of Bewl Water in a gentle breeze. Race Officer Colin Nutt set a trapezoid course, making full use of the large expanse of water.
Clouds bubbled up from the north just before the first start and very soon heavy rain poured down, drenching everyone. Squally winds changed the blue rippled water to a gloomy grey scene appearing like an angry sea. The sharp increase in wind meant visibility was virtually zero for the first windward leg. The fleet sailed on. By the second lap the storm had passed and the sun returned. Dave Butler and Emily Clixby quickly established a lead and went on to win the race, followed by Mike and Anne de St Paer, then Jon and Verna Hunt.
The second race was started rapidly and, after a good start, Dave and Emily again took the lead. In slightly calmer conditions the racing was closer and, on the run toward the leeward mark, five boats were abreast for much of the leg, three with spinnakers and two using whisker poles for their genoas. Calls of ‘windward boat’, ‘mark room’ and ‘no mark room’ filled the air. Mike and Anne eventually pulled ahead into second place, with Tony Dufton in third.
Helms and crews enjoyed lunch in the sunshine sheltered from the wind. The third race started much as the first: a pleasant sail out to the committee boat, then wham, the clouds built, the rains descended and the wind increased. But this storm was short-lived. The whole fleet became totally becalmed on the windward leg of the second lap, so the Race Officer finished the race using the times recorded at the end of the first lap. Dave and Emily still won, scoring a hat trick in their new boat. James Russ and Maggie Bolton benefited from their switch to a smaller jib to take second place, followed by Tony.
Chris Hough, Vice Commodore of Bewl Sailing Association, presented the trophy to Dave Butler and Emily Clixby from Welton, the overall winners of the event. Mike and Anne de St Paer from West Kirby were second and Tony Dufton from Yeadon, sailing single-handed, third. All the sailors and race officials enjoyed tea and cakes in the sun after an exhilarating day’s sailing.
The full results can be found at https://www.halsail.com/Result/Public/36359.