On Saturday 10th September a regatta exclusively for people who had enrolled on, and completed an RYA Start Racing course that Richard Lambert ran for the last two years with John Williams, was staged.

The course covers most of the aspects of dinghy racing; boat preparation, tuning, the start, key racing rules, tactics etc, but what it needed was an actual peer group “Open Meeting” style race to tie everything together.

So I put a proposal to sailing secretariat Martin Burgess and Sarah Seddon, and with their support, we got a green light from the GC to stage an inaugural regatta alongside the junior event, the Emma Nettleship Trophy.

It was clear that the eleven competitors were taking this deadly seriously, a new sail for Leigh’s Solution and for Robert’s Solo, and with Anne-Marie finally replacing her missing sail batten!

Following a briefing from RO Guy Marks, our “Rookie Racers” set off to do battle! Conditions could hardly have been more of a challenge, a light and patchy west north west, making the windward leg particularly tricky.

In the first race, it was Leigh who soon established a commanding lead, but with the wind periodically dropping to a zephyr, he would be steadily reeled in by the finish. Robert was showing consummate patience in the light airs and worked his way to the front. In the end, Markus used the extra sail area on his full-rig Laser to glide past and take the gun in front of Robert in second and Leigh in third. In mid-fleet the racing was incredibly close and Sarah notched an excellent 7th.

The second race was back to back and with a little more consistent breeze, it was Anne-Marie who expertly weaved her way through the early pace-setters, eventually taking the gun in front of the ever consistent Robert, and Steffen showing great skill to work the club Laser up to third. There was no less drama in mid-fleet, with Steve expertly hoisting the spinnaker single-handed aboard his 2000, and Tricia showing good pace for her best finish, a very creditable 7th.

After a break for lunch, the third and deciding race to determine who would be crowned the inaugural Start Racing champion got under way, with Robert, Anne-Marie and Markus very much in the conversation for sailing immortality!

Markus got away well, hotly pursued by one of the pre-race favourites Charlotte, alas showing her true form too late to challenge for the title, but staying among the leaders throughout the final race. However it was Olly who expertly piloted his Solo to a resounding first place, leaving many to ponder what might have been had he been able to start the morning races. Alas, earlier parental duty put paid to his challenge. Markus was second and Charlotte came in third, underscoring the truism that form is temporary, class is permanent.

Once again the battle raged in mid-fleet, this time Ian showing a fine hand to post a regatta best 6th in an unfamiliar club Laser, perhaps rueing the decision not to race his Wanderer?

The overall title was too close to call so a nervous wait for Sailwave to crunch the numbers ensued. In the end it was Swiss precision that prevailed as Markus was crowned the inaugural Start Racing Course Regatta champion, with Robert the runner-up and Anne-Marie rounding out the podium. Steffen’s consistency earned him fourth overall.

All agreed the regatta was a huge success and expressed the wish that an exclusive event for new and aspiring racers should become an annual fixture in the club calendar.

A BBQ with free flowing prosecco rounded off a perfect day.

Overall Results:

1st Markus Kobler (Laser ILCA7) 3pts
2nd Robert Hunt (Solo) 4pts
3rd Anne-Marie George (Laser ILCA6) 5pts
4th Steffen Schwark (Laser ILCA7) 8pts
5th Leigh Clark (Solution) 8pts
6th Steve Drain (2000) 10pts
7th Charlotte Cunliffe (Laser ILCA6) 11pts
8th Olly Wildgoose (Solo) 13pts
9th Ian Gubb (Laser ILCA7) 15pts
10th Tricia Stone (Laser ILCA6) 16pts
11th Sarah Yuile (Laser ILCA6) 17pts