Gale force racing at Axbridge

A gale force wind at Axbridge reservoir made for some exciting sailing.

WITH a full on severe gale, it was a depleted fleet that looked out on a feisty Axbridge reservoir for round one of this year’s SW Ugly Tour.

The reservoir on the Somerset Levels has the Mendips directly behind and in a northerly is well-known for being shifty as wind comes down off the hills and.

In race one, the tried and tested BCYC team of Ian Pickard and Rachel Dunn were quick off the mark, followed by Matt Mee and Emma Norris, with John Teague and Louise Fisher third.

In race two, BCYC’s Paul and Pat Teague led early on before capsizing and then completing a strange mating ritual with Tony and Zach Freer. It then became the Ed Whitehard and Alice Kingsnorth show as they went into turbo, winning by a distance, particularly after Pickard/Dunn went splash in second, repeating the result in race three.

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Mee and Norris again pulled through to second in race two and repeated the result in the next race. Teague and Fisher was equally consistent with another third, with Steve Dunn and Karen Baker claiming the other third.

So the scene was set for a race four show down between the two leading boats and it was major advantage when Mee and Norris led at the first mark with Whitehead and Kingsnorth having a mare with their transom bridle breaking.

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At the second windward mark, it looked all over with Mee and Norris well in the lead. Dunn and Baker and Pete Vincent and Charlotte Cotter looked secure in the next two places with Whitehead in 10th.

But Whitehead gybed straight away and found a huge gust to gain second place, right on Mee’s transom. Although Teague and Fisher got in the way for a while, Mee and Norris won, but Whitehead and Kingsnorth’s second gave them overall victory by a point.

Jayne Johnson and Katie James from Starcross sailed a consistent series to finish sixth overall and first silver division boat. Chew Valley’s Mike Riley and Mary Hill just won the bronze division after an initial counting error from Cotswolds Pete and Flea Haddrell.

Special mention also goes to BCYC’s 15-year-old James Clarke, crewing his first ever race in an RS200 in a force six - maybe a name to look out for in the future.

Many thanks to Bob Wainwright for some impressive turn arounds between races and to Tom Halhead and Stu Jagger for vaguely keeping the course true. Plus a huge vote of thanks to BCYC shore team for the excellent food.

Next round of the SW Ugly Tour is a first visit to Parkstone YC, home to possibly the largest 200 fleet in the country on May 19.

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