The expanding Europe class were really looking forward to an Inland champs at the beginning of October, after nearly all our events were cancelled due to coronavirus. Sadly with just one month to go, the host club cancelled, and it looked like the event would be another victim of COVID-19. However, we were incredibly grateful when Haversham Sailing Club stepped up to the mark and ran a fantastic Inland Championships for us, just one week later than expected.
Even at such short notice and with the challenges of regional restrictions, we had a great turnout of eighteen Europe sailors, who converged from all corners of the land to this delightful lake near Milton Keynes. The Europe fleet is very diverse in age and gender, but many are good friends, and it was great to meet up with mates again after so long. We were also delighted to welcome five sailors who had not previously attended a Europe event!
The first race started with a good breeze and gentle autumn sun, but various members of the fleet were somewhat confused about the start line. Ellie Clark and Hamish Morley thought they were in hot contention for the front of the peloton, only to be called back mid-race and told they had never started. They wisely chose to sit on the bank, eating sausage rolls while the race played out. Other sailors, still remembering how to sail, forgot the windward gate and had to double back on the upwind leg. At the finish, it was a convincing win for Steve Cockerill, who showed his mastery of gusts and shifts. Back in the Europe again for the first time in years, he also hadn't forgotten his 11,000 hours of Europe training from the '80s. Behind him was Alex Scoles, a long-time OK sailor, keen to try his hand in the Europe, rather than put on some pounds. John Tweedle, sometime Finn sailor who has lost the pounds, thought he had sailed a blinder to finish third, only to find he was OCS, handing third place to Tim Laws. Annabel Jones Laurie and Adam Catlow did well to push hard near the front of the fleet too. Kathryn Walker-Green was going really well in a borrowed boat until she had to do turns on a reedy leeward shore.
By race two the breeze had built a little but became gustier with stormy skies. Barry, the cheerful race officer, clearly thought we needed a new challenge and added buoy 9 to make a tight slalom course. As Barry well knew, buoy 9 was also set in a black hole of windlessness, that would push our puddle-sailing skills to the limit. A gusty reach along the length of the lake was followed by a challenging slalom in front of the clubhouse. At times boats seemed only to be powered by a flukey wind in the top third of their sails. Boats at the front of the fleet were rewarded for smooth sailing, beautiful tacks and keeping their eyes out for any clues to the vagaries of the wind. Tim Laws and Malcolm Morley managed to keep Steve Cockerill behind them for some of the race, but in the end, Steve took the win, with Tim and Malcolm behind him in 2nd and 3rd. It was Jon Tweedle's race of the day, finishing 4th without being OCS.
Race three again saw a challenging slalom around one end of the lake with some nice long reaches and a beat at the breezier end. Buoy 9 still featured and remained sitting in a wind shadow that challenged everyone. George Crammond managed to capsize, whilst gybing around mark 4. Still, he did an incredible job of fighting back to finish second behind Steve Cockerill. Joe Penhaul Smith finished a close third.
The final race of the day was by far the closest with Tim Laws and Steve Cockerill match-racing the last legs of the race. Tim Laws actually managed to overtake Steve at one point for at least 10 seconds, or 5 or maybe just 3, but he did overtake! There was also some excitement at one of the gybe marks with Hamish Morley nearly capsizing and Alex Scoles looking for a gap that was never there. Steve Cockerill finished first again with Tim Laws second and George Crammond third.
Steve Cockerill was a decisive winner of the event but won hearts in the fleet for passing on tips and coaching between racing. His smoothness in the boat was great to watch, and he has inspired those just behind him to push harder. It's also worth mentioning that Steve won hearts amongst some of the spectators for his beautiful baby-pink boat.
The boats of the Europe fleet are as diverse as the sailors, with three boats sporting older rigs, Steve Whitby was the first of those in 8th, to win the "tin rig trophy". Also worthy of a mention was Luke Lazell, with his beautiful wooden boat, built by Gerry Ledger.
It was great to see new faces in the fleet with some strong placings from them. It was notable that Staunton Harold SC had two boats in the top four with George Crammond and Joe Penhaul Smith. Perhaps they could have done even better had they not kept luffing each other?
Most of us drove back home through thunderstorms, grateful to have enjoyed a great day racing. We all have fine memories of Haversham. Thanks Barry and all the race team, you made it a brilliant event!
Overy Staithe SC managed to kick off the sailing season with the Europe Open Meeting on 4th July 2020, just as local pubs opened for the first time since March.
Overy Staithe SC has no clubhouse and in the era of Coronavirus, this seems like a strong advantage, as does single-handed racing. Sailors at Overy expect to get changed at home or in the back of a car and so that was much the same as usual. Ten boats assembled on the hard at in gusty conditions under grey clouds but with huge enthusiasm, as for most of the fleet it was the first time they had sailed in 2020. In many ways it looked just like any open meeting but nobody assembled for a briefing, money was left in sealed envelopes and the father and son safety crew wore helmets with visors. The racing was scheduled to run on Saturday evening and Sunday morning, but with a very breezy forecast for Sunday morning, the race officer made a decision to run three races on Saturday evening and abandon any idea of Sunday morning sailing.
The start line was laid in the fast flooding tide at the entrance to the harbour, but the sailors were keen not to be pushed over the line and there was only one boat OCS in the first race. Local OK sailor Alex Scoles lead the fleet around much of the harbour course in a borrowed Finessa with only Hamish Morley managing to get in front of him for part of the race. Hamish finished second with Simon "Spike" Turner taking third place. There were several capsizes throughout the fleet and understandably two sailors decided to return to the hard, leaving an eight-boat fleet.
The second race saw Alex Scoles lead the fleet around the whole course. There was a lot of competition for the next few places but at the finishing line it was Malcolm Morley second and Simon Turner third.
By the time the third race got under way, the tide had turned and the breeze softened. There were three boats on six points vying for second place but it was less clear which tidal tactics would pay. Alex Scoles again found the speed and strategy to lead throughout the race and take first place overall. Simon Turner finishing a good second to claim second place in the final results. Behind him, there was close racing between the Morleys, Steve Whitby and Mark Beck. It could have been any of those boats finishing third but after Steve capsized on Scolt Head beach and Hamish failed to lay a windward mark in the fast ebbing tide, Malcolm Morley managed to finish third to claim third place overall.
Twenty Europe sailors gathered at Oxford Sailing Club, Farmoor Reservoir, for the last event of the season, a chance to catch up with fellow Europe sailors and see who could bag the honour of becoming the 2019 Inlands Champion.
On Saturday the fleet launched in sunshine and 10 knots, with the anticipation of the O flag to allow pumping. Sharing with the Finn class (we just pipped them on numbers) the Finns started first and set off on a trapezoid course. Looking up the race course it was starting to look obvious that it was going to be shifty.
The O flag went up, came down and went back up again throughout the day, meaning the sailors needed to keep sharp to ensure they didn't fall foul of pumping illegally.
Chris Gill made the best of the 1st two races, taking the win both times, a close fight for 2nd to 8th saw some close racing with Emma Pearson & Lucy Boreham taking 2nd & 3rd in Race 1 and Richard Eagleton & Tim Laws those slots in race 2.
Race 3 saw Jon Tweedle & Tim getting out of the blocks best, leading around the top mark with a busy chasing pack. Jon's local knowledge, which appeared to include hugging the shoreline downwind (avoiding the tide was the general consensus) paid off with him extending his lead on round 2 to take the win comfortably, with Tim in 2nd. The battle for 3rd went down to the wire, with the race officer unable to split Lucy & Emma after a tacking match to the line sharing 3rd place. The wind was very up and down as well as shifty, causing a few to take a close look at their boats underside, but the race team did a great job to get the 3 races in the sunshine.
The fleet retired to shore, to enjoy the late afternoon sunshine, a contingent set up camp at the local campsite and walked back to the club for dinner, a few beers and a quiz.
What a difference a day makes! Sunday bought dark clouds, rain and the wind in a totally different direction. Race 4 got under way after a general recall. It soon became obvious that the wind was moving right, so after 1 lap the race was shortened with Emma taking the win followed by Chris & Richard, with Steve Whitby in 4th, showing fantastic speed in the light conditions in his recently dug out of the hedge 1980's boat - proving that an older boat in the right hands can be quick.
A short pause to reset the course, allowing Malcolm Morley to tuck into his Apple with peanut butter dip (is that really a thing?!) and race 5 got under way in no less tricky conditions. Emma & Chris had a close battle with Steve taking third.
It was all down to the final race for who would take the glory, with Emma & Chris both having 2 wins apiece. Tim executed a perfect port hand flyer off the line, but boy was it tricky up that first leg. Chris snuck away, with 6 boats following in close contention. The reservoir took on the appearance of a mirror as everyone tried to find any puff of wind to fill the sail. Chris maintained his lead to take the series, Lucy just snuck round mark 4 into 2nd and Pete Bell took a well deserved 3rd, having been well up in the pack for most of the races all weekend.
With the rain finally easing the fleet packed away and enjoyed the lucky dip prize giving with everyone walking away with something. Three lucky sailors getting a 15% discount from Alejandro @ Sailtech.
With 3 wins Chris Gill took overall honours, Emma Pearson 2nd, Tim Laws 3rd and 1st Master. Richard Eagleton in 6th was the leading Grand Master and Dan Osborne in 12th 1st Junior.
Five adventurous UK sailors made their way across the channel to Ostend, Belgium to participate in what is perhaps the least-known best Europe class event in Europe, the legendary Open Belgium Championship.
With a huge diversity in the fleet, men and women from six nations across a wide range of ages and ability, the event caters for all. There were French sailors who looked like they had been sailing Europes for decades and local Belgium and German youngsters with enough bravery to push hard downwind in the steep rolling waves that the North Sea Coast line provided.
The individuality of the masts and sails to suit sailors of all sizes helps to level the playing field and the little Europe revels in the big waves. Our Brit abroad, Graham Hutchings, had organised some training for the Friday; after unloading the boats in the morning, local Belgium Class Coach Nicolas D'Hordt talked through a few basics and was keen to launch. As soon as we had launched it became apparent that this was going to be interesting! With a building breeze and big rolling waves, this was very different to the usual Solent chop / inland lakes most of the UK sailors were used to. Short upwind legs, focusing on keeping the boat flat and tacking was followed by downwind runs, with most taking a swim or two whilst trying to work out how to manage the waves. Everyone called it a day after an hour and retired to the bar for a debrief and general chat of what to expect over the weekend.
Saturday dawned with bright skies, a stiff breeze and those waves still very present, the fleet of 75 boats launched and after a slight delay in setting the course attempted to get under way. An inevitable general recall or two saw race 1 get under way under the U flag, which caught a few of the favourites out. The U flag was much present for the whole of the event, with so many boats and quite a strong tide this was accepted by all with good grace.
The breeze and waves built during the day, with a number of the fleet making the decision to go ashore either after race 1 or 2. Each with their own story to tell on the size of the rogue wave that caught them out, or the huge gust that literally knocked them flat. By race 3 the reduced fleet started in the windiest conditions, but a sudden downpour flattened the sea and behind it came a much lighter swinging breeze. The final beat proved decisive for many sailors with multiple places to be gained or lost.
The race committee called it a day after three races and the sailors returned to the shore and enjoyed dinner together in the Royal North Sea Yacht Club, a great opportunity to talk to fellow sailors form different nationalities. Tim Laws and Malcom Morley led the UK charge overnight, with both getting into the top 20, with Graham Hutchings (sailing under his Belgium nationality) making it into the top 15.
Day 2 dawned with what looked like less breeze, however an hour postponement was necessary due to the sea state, with big rollers coming into the harbour meaning launching was not safe. Once the waves had calmed down sufficiently the fleet launched into what initially seemed lighter wind and calmer seas, however both the breeze and waves picked up quickly and the 1st race started in similar conditions to day 1. The main take out from race 1 is the big rolling waves for some great downwind surfing.
There were more casualties of the U Flag in race 2, with Tim Laws being amongst those too eager to start. The breeze went lighter during the race but the waves remained, allowing those with the skill to make the most of the pumping rule for some fantastic downwind surfing, failure to get this right meant rapid loss of places.
The third and final race of the day was in trickier conditions with the breeze swinging right and a strong tide kicking in and changing direction during the race, the race committee rapidly changed the course, but a number of sailors missed the signals and were caught out on the wrong side of the shifts and the course.
With a discard kicking in on day 2, unfortunately the British places fell, however both Malcom and Tim made it into the top 30 in 28th and 29th places respectively, George Crammond coming in a very credible 39th especially as the sea state had very little in common with his usual sailing waters at Staunton Harold.
At the front of the fleet a close battle had played out all weekend, with the win finally going to Stijn van Hoye taking it from Jasper Simoens with Killian Vermeersch in a close third making it a Belgium 1,2,3. Best placed non-Belgium went to French sailor Olivier Lalance in fourth.
It was impressive to see the leaders and how they managed the big seas both upwind and downwind, revelling in the surfing conditions and showcasing the versatility of the Europe.
Five tired but happy UK sailors packed up their boats and made the journey back across to the UK, in time for work and school on Monday morning. From the South Coast the trip is just 5 hours and with the warm welcome and fantastic sailing this is an event the class will go back to and hopefully with a bigger UK contingent in 2020.
The weekend of the 21/22nd September sees the final event of the UK Europe calendar for 2019 with the Inland championships, with 20+ boats intending to attend this will be the last chance to sail together as a fleet this year.
28th - Malcolm Morley
29th - Tim Laws
39th - George Crammond
63rd - Lucy Boreham
66th - Ellie Clarke
Full Results HERE
The last weekend in August saw the next open meeting event for the UK Europe fleet. Thirteen visitors joined a local boat at Lee-on-the-Solent Sailing Club.
The fleet launched with 15 knots, which quickly built during the afternoon. A trapezoid course was set and the fleet got away at the first attempt. The downwind legs were an exciting ride, with a number of sailors doing an unplanned inspection of the bottom of their boats and a few taking the wise decision to tack around rather than risking a gybe. By the bottom of the 2nd round, Malcom Morley had taken the lead, followed by Emma Pearson who miraculously saved what appeared to be a kamikaze gybe at the leeward mark to take 2nd place with Olly Harris in 3rd.
With the breeze building a few decided to go ashore, but ten Europes lined up for the 2nd start, only to discover at the top of the beat that there had been a general recall! Another sleighride downwind back to the committee boat where the race team wisely decided to call it a day due to the increasing breeze. The fleet made it ashore, thanks go to the LOSSC members who help everyone safely ashore, the rest of the afternoon was spent catching up and a fish & chip supper and a few beers served up by the club in the evening.
Sunday dawned with sunshine and 10 knots, perfect conditions. Race 1 got under way with a long beat up the shore against the tide, Lucy Boreham made the dash out to the windward mark first whilst the rest of the fleet opted to continue inshore, the early tack out into the tide paid off, Lucy building a 100m lead which was maintained throughout, the chasing fleet had a close battle with Emma taking 2nd and Malcom 3rd.
A bit more wind for race 2 and another close race, Emma & George Cramond leading the way around the course until the final run, Fiona Taylor Bullmore showed some impressive downwind speed charging past George & Malcom to take 2nd place.
The 3rd and final race of the day started in the most wind. Jon Tweedle led around the windward mark, Lucy & Emma made the most of the waves downwind to have a close battle all the way to the finish as the breeze reduced with Emma taking the win in the 3rd race and the win overall. Kathy Sheeratt managed to create a bit of space for herself for 3rd with 4th to 8th finishing all within seconds of each other.
With 2 race wins Emma Pearson took overall 1st place, Lucy & Malcom tied on 7 points, with Lucy taking 2nd on count back and Fiona in 4th. Lee on Solent excelled with great racing on the water, very friendly welcome to the visitors, lovely cakes and some Rooster prizes.
The fleet packed up in the sunshine all with big smiles and much talk about looking forward to the Inlands at Oxford SC on the 21/22nd September and 5 intrepid Europe sailors are making their way to Belgium for the Belgium Nationals next weekend.
The Chichester Yacht Club Solo and Europe Open was held on the 6th July in beautiful summer sunshine, with the early light wind reinforced by a southerly sea breeze.
The Race officer, Phil Allen, set an inverted P course with the committee boat toward the Bowling end of the CYC lake. During the briefing he explained that there was no requirement to pass through the Start Line until the final lap, giving the competitors full freedom to make their way upwind in any way they liked. In race one the tide was very strong pushing the boats back from the line, but as the afternoon progressed the tide changed causing a few boats to cross the line early.
The Lake area was very busy with neighbours Dell Quay running their regatta at the same time. It made a fine spectacle to see the visiting Itchenor Keel boats gracefully sailing through the lake on their way to Dell Quay.
Four boats competed in the Europe Open, run on the same course as the Solo Open. The series saw a close race between CYC's Lucy Boreham and Overy Staithe SC's Malcolm Moreley. In race 1, Malcolm finished ahead, but in the following two races Lucy took the first place. The event winner was Lucy Boreham, followed by Malcolm Morley with CYC's Geoff Newman in third place.
The 2019 National Championships at Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy over the weekend of 15/16th June welcomed a record entry of 31 boats.
Recent activity by the UK Class Association has seen a real resurgence in interest in the class with a number of boats finding new owners after work by the class 'Cupid' Jon Tweedle, who has spent time encouraging people to sell on boats that are no longer wanted and matching those sales with people interested in either joining the class or upgrading an existing boat and freeing up an older one to move on to a new home. Class membership has also grown and the weekend provided a fantastic opportunity to come together and enjoy not only some first class racing but some first class training and socialising too!
A coaching day was held on Friday 14 June, with Laura Baldwin (2004 Europe GBR Olympian) sharing hints and tips from her time in the class. Aided by Spanish sail maker Alejandro Pareja Gonzalez the fleet gained much insight into the use of the sail controls and sail settings.
The first of 2 social events took place on Friday night, with a BBQ hosted by Jon and Hattie Tweedle. It set the scene nicely for friendly boat park banter on Saturday morning before the fleet set out for some pretty windy racing. Alejandro took line honours in race 1, closely followed by Graham Hutchins. Chris Gill showed super speed to take race 2 with Graham again in second. Alejandro ended the day with another win, with Chris hard on his heels and so, ended day one on the water, with lots of helms grinning at the great sailing they'd had but grimacing with aching leg muscles from some pretty extreme hiking!
On Saturday night over 50 sailors and their families enjoyed a meal and social at a local restaurant, and with the sun shining over the bay it was a lovely end to a great day of friendship and good racing.
Sunday morning dawned wet and windy and those aching muscles were really beginning to tell by now, but by 10.30 racing was under way and Laura Baldwin - back in the Europe after 15 years away - was a very delighted winner of race 4. With the placings still wide open Chris took race 5 guaranteeing him a good result overall, but the last race was to be Alejandro's and that gave him first overall and the title of Open Champion, with Chris in second becoming our new National Champion. Graham finished third overall and took the Roaring Forties title, Laura was first Lady in fourth place, Richard Eagleton is the new 'Swinging Sixties champion and was 9th overall and Ben Harris is the new Junior Champion having finished 17th, showing particular form in the very windiest races, proving the Europe's ability to tailor the boat to your individual needs in all wind strengths!
1st - ESP698 - Alejandro Pareja Gonzalez - Event Winner
2nd - GBR352 - Chris Gill - 2019 UK National Champion
3rd - BEL986 - Graham Hutchings
Europe news continues to dominate the headlines, though neither Theresa nor Jeremy nor Nigel appeared at the Overy Staithe open meeting on 18th and 19th May. The event was shared with the wonderful 12sq.m. Sharpies, who joined in the Euro-fun with some Dutch sail numbers.
Sailing (as they do at Overy) on spring tides, which appear late in the evening and early in the morning, the racing was scheduled for the slightly unsociable times of 1700 on Saturday and 0700 on Sunday. Nevertheless an eager group of Europes prepared on the hard, waiting for the water and wind to arrive. The water was on schedule, but the wind was a tad reluctant, as forecast.
Race one got off to a good start, and racing was close, short-tacking against the tide up the Scolt Head shore. It was a case of how close dare you go before risking the final tack out to the windward mark in the teeth of the tide. Once you got round, it was a sleigh-ride down tide and big gaps opened up. The locals were generous in telling the visitors which way to go, but there was no holding the local hero Alex Scoles who went both fast and in the right direction. Richard Eagleton was close for a while but second time round saw Alex disappear in the distance, and the bulk of the fleet lost touch with Richard who was a comfortable second.
In the second race both Richard and Debs Crissell were too eager at the start. Alex and Ellie Clark led the pack, with strategy changing slightly as the tide turned and the wind weakened. Ellie was going well in a borrowed boat (having discovered earlier just how sharp a Sharpie is in a t-bone situation). Alex took the win again, and Jon “Slimline” Tweedle did well to get a third in the light conditions. Richard was working his way up the fleet until someone deposited a sunken island in the way which definitely wasn’t there on the previous lap!
Sunday dawn brought a heavy mist, which was not entirely due to the bacon rolls which appeared at 5:45 thanks to host Malcolm Morley! The mist did clear, but that was due less to the arrival of any wind, and more to the hot air arising from discussions on burning topics of the day, including the machinations of the Olympics and World Sailing. Finally at 7:30am the Race Officer wisely pulled the plug and gave everyone the day off.
So disappointingly we ended up with a two-race no-discard scorecard, which gave Alex a well-deserved win, Richard a barely-deserved second, and the others wondering what might have been. Malcolm just enjoyed it, as did we all.
The Europes didn’t quite manage the usual 50/50 gender split that we take pride in. But with the Europe’s flexible and adjustable rig, we did get even racing in fairly light conditions with sailors ranging from under 55 to over 80 kg. Match that!
Race 1 Race 2 Total
1st Alex Scoles 1 1 2
2nd Richard Eagleton 2 5 7
3rd Debs Crissell 4 4 8
4th Jon Tweedle 6 3 9
5th Ellie Clark dns 9 2 11
6th Simon Turner 3 8 11
7th Rose Edmonds 5 6 11
8th Malcolm Morley 7 7 14
On Friday, I pulled into the field adjacent to Weston Sailing club on what was a warm, sunny and dewy morning; parking next to fellow Stokes Bay sailors and ex-Europe sailors Steve and Sarah Cockrill. While rigging, in a very leisurely manor, we chatted about all things sailing (as one does) and I took the opportunity to collect any little nuggets of information I could from Steve. Mast bend curves, tacking with your bum in the air and small-time phycological warfare were amongst his favourite stories. He speaks very fondly of the Europe still and sounds as though he would re-join the fleet again if several things fall into place. A 'his’n’hers' pair of boats for him and Sarah is definitely not out of the question!
I collected my tracker and launched, hoping that a glorious sea-breeze would fill in. Unfortunately this was not the case! The wind became lighter and shiftier, far from optimum for the timed speed trial's planned for the day!
Saturday arrived with a similar feel to the previous day’s meteorological situation: light and a bit flukey. A few more boats had arrived and the assortment of classes rigged on the shore line in anticipation of the three scheduled races on the Costa-del-Soton Water. Being over the Easter weekend many of the usual Europe suspects were unable to travel due to family commitments… Or perhaps they had seen the forecast and thought better of it! Competitors were divided into two fleets: Catamaran/Fast Handicap and Medium/Slow Handicap.
On launching it became apparent that the wind was slighter than it looked on shore and really quite shifty. Fast fleet started well – with a notable comedy moment from the 49er where the helm executed a quality dismount by way of missing the trapeze line, leaving the crew do go it alone on a man-overboard manoeuvre.
After completing one lap, the wind had shifted from a North Easterly round to a southerly and the majority of Med/Slow fleet had managed to raft together, crossing the gate in a great line all at the same time… on a run. One lap later, S flag was raised and a collective sigh of relief that we could have a break of intense concentration. AP was popped up and we drifted in for a spot of lunch in the sun.
Before Race 2 myself and Kathy (USA111) had a quick tune up and I offered a few tips to help her sail set-up for the super-light airs. The course was reversed as it seemed that the wind had settled in on a southerly-ish direction. The wind became increasingly difficult with one leg of the course I was on beat at one end, a menagerie of small boats mid-leg on a run to by-the-lee and a pack of F18 Catamarans behind with their spinnakers up.
AP up again after race 2 but then came down before we could drift in(!)
Race 3 was much the same as race two. An acceptance of the wacky races and a healthy level of grit, determination and concentration seemed key.
The evening’s entertainment included a hearty BBQ put on by the club and a game of Mad Hatter Bingo – a game I thoroughly recommend to anyone and everyone.
Sunday dawned and AP went up ashore instantly. The forecast was for less wind than Saturday but the race officer was staunchly optimistic that we should be able to get a race in and therefor qualify for a discard. After an hours’ postponement the decision was reluctantly taken to abandon racing, allowing for the travellers to get home early.
It has to be said that the weather suited featherweight nature of the Europe and other similar smaller boats and the ease at which they power up with. After a great two days of light wind racing, 3rd place went to myself, with Kathy also finishing in 15th, not a bad set of results for the Europes in a 45 boat fleet!
Farmoor Reservoir was like Piccadilly Circus, with 160 boats of various shapes and sizes packed on to the reservoir. Unlike the previous Inlands, light airs prevailed for most of the day until the tail end of the third and final race saw the gusts kick up to 18 knots and caught a few people napping, with capsizes ensuing.
The fluky conditions tended to favour europes and some similar boats who made the most of the short, sharp gusts. Jon Tweedle (now dieted down to half the size he used to be for his Finn) was out in his newly referbed £300 machine and gave Malcolm and Pete a run for their money at stages. Emma's prior experience at small boats in big handicap fleets shon through and was able to get away from the others other than for a short time mid-race two when it looked as though Jon and Pete were going for the over-take.... Just remember the wind fills in (and therefore falls out) from behind! An honourable mention must go to "Pirate" Emma - a local youth sailor who was press-ganged into borrowing Caitlyn's europe.
It was a busy but well-managed foreshore, with more volunteers showing up than were actually needed, such is the enthusiasm for this event which has now become established as one of the most popular winter competitions. Pete Gray commented in his victory speech that this was the best run Oxford Blue he has seen. Traditional Europes' tea/coffee and home made cake followed in the club house along with the usual discussions of settings, kit and upgrading old boats out of hedges.