Lightning 368 Open was held at Hillingdon Outdoor Activities Centre on Sunday 1st April. Five visitors joined the six local boats for the first open of the year to be greeted by bright sunshine and a gentle breeze across the lake.
Lightning 368 Open 2011 at Hillingdon
Three of the new boats were present with Caroline Key’s shiny new beast, 413 only seeing water for the second time.
Race one saw a drop in the breeze for the start and it was Matt Hopkins who made the early break off the line hotly pursued by Dad Simon. The wind then reappeared from various different directions at various times making for a very trying race. Locals Dave Tiney, Eric Jannering and Caroline Key made good use of this to gradually reel Matt and Simon in and affect a restart. Matt decided he did not want to play and sailed away for a comfortable win, as in on shore, sails down before the next boat finished. It looked briefly like Simon was going to keep his second ahead of Caroline, when the locals Dave and Eric slipped through on private wind to take second and third.
After a pleasant lunch of soup and sandwiches sitting in the sun race two started on time. This time Caroline, Wayne ad Lee went hard left whilst the rest of the fleet played the middle to right side. Unfortunately Lee decided to bag the glory and cross the fleet back to the right which left Caroline and Wayne to come in from the left in wind, round first and second miles ahead for the rest of the fleet. Caroline was never in sight for the rest of the race and copied Matt from the first race by being ashore before the next boat finished. From the chasing pack it was soon Dave and Matt who set off in pursuit of Wayne who they eventually reeled in and passed to finish in that order. Wayne held his nerve from a hard chasing Simon to comfortably retain fourth place, by far his best performance to date.
So in the final race the favourites were Matt and Caroline to slug it out with Dave having an outside chance if he could win and the other two were third or lower. Off the line Simon, starting to remember how to sail after all the months off, sailed away to a nice lead followed by Matt, with Dave and Caroline a distant third and fourth. Matt soon passed Simon but was unable to get away as he had done in the first race. Then the wind decided to spice things up and whilst Matt and Simon sat not moving in a hole Caroline sailed the length of the lake to join the group. She soon passed Simon and briefly took the lead, but Matt held his nerve and regained first place. This was now boat on boat for the open meeting. Matt rounded the last mark first ahead of Caroline and then covered to the line. According to the RO there was about two inch between them at the finish but it was Matt who held on and secured his well deserved first Open meeting victory ahead of Caroline. Simon finished third ahead of Dave but it was not enough and Dave placed third overall.
As we packed up all agreed it had been a very challenging but fun open and as always the hospitality of the Hillingdon Outdoor Activities Centre is second to none. Next stop a return to Fishers Green SC in Essex in two weeks time, tanker drivers strike permitting.
1st 288 Matt Hopkins, Up River YC
2nd 413 Caroline Key, West Oxford SC
3rd 288 Dave Tiney, Hillingdon OAC
Lightning 368 Class Association website