The competitors were welcomed to Leigh Sailing Club in the morning with a good force 4 South-westerly, but not much water for the time being. Fortunately this allowed for a bacon sandwich, a hot drink and a briefing from our LSC Sailing Secretary, during which time the water arrived and so did a significant increase in the wind.
The afternoon began with seven Leigh boats and two visitors heading out onto the water for the competition, in the now strong force 5 winds. Unfortunately, before the racing had begun one Enterprise lost its mast, and another capsized only to discover a crack in the bulkhead which was now full of water. As a consequence the racing fleet was now reduced to 7 boats.
The first race saw a good start by most of competitors, with a difficult beat to the first mark in very strong, shifting winds. The visitors from Burghfield SC, helmed by Ann Jackson and crewed by Alan Skeens, made the most of the conditions and led all the way. A great first outing for Matt & Annie Tothill’s Enterprise saw them finish 2nd, with James Hudson and Harrison Floyd putting in a good performance for 3rd place. Bringing up the rear was Paul Knight and Shaun Orton, who managed to hold on for dear life, before capsizing at the end of the race and claiming 6th place.
More Enterprises were lost during race 2 for various reasons, including a broken kicker, a collision and a seasick crew! Race 2 was won again by the visitors from Burghfield, with Alan Roberts (who is new to Enterprise sailing) and crew Richard Beechy finishing 2nd. Unfortunately, Alan’s rudder stock decided it had had enough, and forced another retirement.
Only three boats left for the third race, and this required strong nerves, strong boats and a good deal of skill as the wind increased again. Another outstanding performance from Ann Jackson and Alan Skeens of Burghfield saw them finish in first place once more and deservedly take the Eastern Area Championship title. A brilliant effort from by the LSC Club boat, helmed by Phil Dowsett (also inexperienced in an Enterprise) and crewed by Harry Wright, saw them finish the race second and also take second overall, whilst our great friends Ian & Sue Simpson from Alexandra YC also enjoyed three very good races, but were just beaten into third by the scoring system. There were several inexperienced crews and a few helms new to Enterprise sailing, but most seemed to thoroughly enjoy the “demolition derby”. The strong winds were major a test for all the people and boats involved, but everyone agreed that it was definitely a lot of fun!
After the racing, everyone enjoyed a selection of fruit, cakes and a barbeque, whilst swapping their tales of sailing woes or delight over a cup of tea, or something a bit stronger! A fantastic day, perhaps not for some of the boats, but a huge thanks to all our visitors, competitors and helpers for making it such a great event. Look forward to seeing you next year.
Report by Paul Knight
Photographs by Liz Noblet