The Cowes Etchells Fleet finally got their 2013 season underway with the Sir Kenneth Preston Trophy, after the Etchells Spring series was postponed due to the weather.
Saturday morning’s forecast was for a North Easterly force 4 becoming variable 2 before going South Easterly 4 later, but the best bit was the sun on the Solent, and the sun lasted all day, and then turned out again on Sunday.
Saturday day one, 10 boats came to the line, Race 1 started with an east wind that was shifting through 30 degrees, and the wind strength varied between four and 10 knots, after the start the main pack sail on starboard towards the hill head shore and those who were unable to hold their lane and therefore tacked away to the right soon suffered as the wind dropped on that side of the course but it was Richard Burrows’ ORL 1015 Matatu Dubh made the best of the conditions winning race 1.
Race 2 had the best breeze of the day on the race track, and Rob Goddard's Stampede lead from start to finish followed closely for most by Robert Elliott’s Esprit who sailed into their own wind hole on the last upwind leg, therefore acting as a marker for the others boats to sail around forcing them down to fourth.
Race 3 had the biggest pockets of wind, with holes forming throughout the race, and when the easterly wind died away just after the final bottom mark rounding, Gelert made the best use of a building breeze coming down from Southampton water and headed due north under spinnaker towards it, and enable them to closely follow Esprit across the finish line, where Esprit learnt that they were judged OCS and Gelert became the winner, but Overall on day one it was Paul Lees sailing Gelert who lead overall from Matatu Dubh in second while Stampede, Elvis and Jack Wilson sailing Palaver all tied for third.
Day two had better wind conditions with a South Easterly breeze that varied between eight and 13 knots, unfortunately due to other racing fleets starting earlier in the Solent, the Etchells start line was just South of the Bramble Post and ran both parallel and close to the main deep water channel, and with a strong ebb tide made winning the start and going hard left of paramount importance,
In Race 1 David Franks’ Elvis won the pin and stretched out a lead on Starboard before easily tacking across the fleet and then with clean air sailed away for the rest of the race to win by the longest lead of the day.
Race 2 saw an egger fleet fighting for the pin many of whom were OCS and had to return, and Gelert and Elvis ended up with the best of the correct starters, but this time it was Gelert who won the left and protected it with some close tacking on Elvis pushing them back towards the pack, at the first downwind mark just behind them were Shamal, Stampede and Palaver, however three into one mark rounding didn’t go, consequently Stampede and Shamal both had to take penalty turns which shot them back to eighth and ninth respectively.
Race 3 was started under Z flag, Gelert won the pin and never looked back, winning their third race of the weekend and the series overall.
As you know we lost our Spring Series because of the weather, but the CCYC have to agree to run us the series on the weekends of 11/12 May and 25/26 May. That first weekend was already down in the calendar as training pre-Worlds, and the second was down as a CCYC event anyway, but will now be a dedicated Etchells event.