Byte and Firefly open at West Oxfordshire Sailing Club
by Richard Whitehouse on 14 May 2013
Ten Bytes (nine on Saturday) competed in the event at West Oxfordshire, shared with a Firefly open. The Bytes started first with three races on Saturday and two more on Sunday.
Saturday provided most excitement with winds varying from flat calm around the sheltered windward marks to a gusty unpredictable 20-25 mph when the rain squalls passed over. The first race started extremely well for Sarah Kirk, who risked a port end flier on a short line to streak away from the fleet, hotly pursued by the rest.
Despite a variable starting performance on Saturday, Rick Whitehouse dominated the Byte fleet, winning every race and revelling in the variable conditions despite contributing to a delay in the start of the second race as he floated upside down across the start line whilst trying to untangle a hastily misconnected Cunningham. This resulted in him missing the starting signals and also losing the course overboard. The leading boats engaged in a luffing battle as they approached the third mark allowing the trailing fleet to close the gap and ensuring many place changes in the laps that followed.
The end of the third race had the strongest winds, with Mike Radford performing fastest in those conditions to markedly close the gap Rick had built up in the early laps.
Overnight several visitors camped on site, both evening meal and breakfast provided by Mike’s wife, Donna. An enjoyable evening was spent playing table football and pool in the clubhouse.
Sunday was quieter but still with considerable sudden changes in wind direction and strength, allowing the leading Bytes to play at catching Fireflies. Lewis Bennett, new to the class and sailing in his first Byte open, made a welcome addition to the fleet. Rick found his start line performance and had an uncontested pair of races. Fierce competition on the water between Mike, Chris Rees, Sarah and Stuart Moore, with a different order round the first mark in every race provided the fleet action, though Mike pulled through to second in four of the five races. The close racing saw Chris and Stuart finish on equal points with Sarah not far behind. Local sailor Guy Shaw made good starts and Kevin Moore was very comfortable when the wind picked up.
Watching the event on Saturday was Richard Lewis from Desilco Sailing (desilcosailing.com) who hopes to provide cost effective replacement parts for Byte dinghies and who kindly provided a carbon fibre tiller extension as a prize.