Tough conditions under sail

SAILORS taking part in the 2011 Freezer series at Bristol Corinthian Yacht Club experienced everything from brilliant sunshine to driving hail.

SAILORS taking part in the 2011 Freezer series at Bristol Corinthian Yacht Club experienced everything from brilliant sunshine to driving hail.

Undeterred, 18 boats started the first race in a 12mph westerly. Simon Kratter set a long course around the club marks for the morning race. With winds gusting up to 20mph, it didn’t take long for the faster boats to draw ahead, with the RS300 of Steve Bolland leading round the course.

At times the fleet experienced windshifts of up to 50 degrees making it particularly hard for Tom Halhead and Stu Jagger in a borrowed RS800 to make good progress. Garry and Richard Packer were managing to hold position against the faster RS200 of Paul and Pat Teague and slowly increasing their lead on the Enterprise of Ian Wakeling when a particularly viscous gust saw them go for an early swim.

However, they were quickly back upright and with the spinnaker rehoisted were never in any real danger of being overtaken by Ian and Shaun. They weren’t the only ones to take an early bath with Helen and Nic Jefferis retiring after the difficult and shifty conditions caused an early capsize in the cold water.

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In the solos, Nigel Appleton led from the start, eventually developing a significant lead over Mark Tinker, who finished second.

The start of the afternoon race was delayed while the race officer set an Olympic course. Just before the start, the wind shifted causing bunching at one end of the start line. However, the fleet soon started to spread out and those opting to take a short tack found they had lost a few boat lengths as the wind was shifting closer to the Mendip Hills.

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By the second lap, the wind had picked up considerably with some of the stonger gusts requiring crew to move back in the boat to keep the noses downwind. Jimmy and Ian Millar were the first to check out the water.

John and Libby Allen were also blown in and then after righting their Enterprise, found the wind had dropped and they couldn’t get sufficient speed up to clear the water from their boat. This put them half a lap behind the rest of the fleet.

At the first gybe, Paul and Pat Teague came out of the manoeuvre on an unstable course and ended up taking a swim. Just behind, Garry and Richard Packer took advantage of a particularly powerful gust and their extra sail to pass Ian Wakeling in the Enterprise and then execute a text book gybe on the inside to avoid the fate of the Teagues.

Just as the crews were thinking the race officer would be finishing soon, a large black cloud and horizontal hail swept across the race course leaving chaos in its wake.

All those sailing downwind at the time capsized and those going upwind faired little better although most managed to stay upright.

The RS800 was damaged in one of many capsizes which forced Tom and Stu to limp home. To round the race off the sun came out and those still in the race finished in glorious sunshine.

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