Bough Beech SC’s Open Icicle Series got off to a cracking start on 2 January with nearly 50 boats on the water, including some twenty visiting crews from ten clubs. This event in the beautiful Kentish Weald, which runs over January and February, continues to be as popular and well-supported as ever.

Mild, often drizzly conditions accompanied a Force 3-4 SW wind that was lumpy enough to cause a few capsizes and retirements. A trapezoid course was set by the able race team for the conventional fleet, and a classic windward leeward for the assymetrics, which covered the entire reservoir. To reduce footfall in the clubhouse because of Covid-19 considerations, the two 60-minute races were sailed back-to-back, instead of the usual break between them, which some found testing in the conditions. This will be reviewed during the event and if possible, there will be a return to the morning and afternoon race format.

The 38-boat conventional fleet included several former or current national champions, and was ultra-competitive on the start line and around the race course, leading to one general recall. In the first race of the day, the conditions were to the liking of Shoreham-based 420 youth squad sailors Joe Warwicker and Hugo Valentine who won on handicap from current RS600 National Champion George Smith with the Wayfarer of John Clementson and Mel Titmus from Chipstead SC in third place. They were just seconds ahead of local sailors Guy Marks and Katy Seddon in another Wayfarer and Richard Lambert in a brand-new Supernova.

The second race had another competitive start. There was no line shyness as the race officer eyed the fleet down the line, but they got away at the second attempt. Eventually the race was won by Bough Beech’s Peter Wolstenholm and Lloyd Roberts in a Snipe. They had not entered the first race but were adept and picking their way through the wind shifts and bends. Clementson came second and Warwicker third. Bough Beech Laser class captain Pete Young was fourth, (he too had somehow missed the first race,) and Smith was fifth. So after two races the conventional series is led by Warwicker with Clementson second, and Smith third.

The first race of the 13 boat asymmetric fleet, was won by another BBSC Marks/Seddon combination, this time in a 2000: Elliot was crewed by Katy’s mum Sarah. Second was the RS400 of Pevensey sailors Mike Green and Lynn Ratcliffe, (Lynn was the winning crew in the last Icicle.) Third was another RS400, driven by Peter Snowden and Louise Carr from Shoreham, making their first visit to the Icicle. The second race went to Green and Ratcliffe, with Marks/Seddon second and Luke Broughton and Nicki Kane, in a 2000 from Itchenor SC, third. Thus the assymetrics are currently led by Green on the same points as Marks, with Snowden in third, but only a point or so ahead of the next three boats, so this looks like being a tightly fought series.

A further 16 races are planned over all the Sundays until the end of February with a number of discards allowed, so late entries are possible