Jon Ibbotson and Charlotte Stewart won the Burghfield National 12 Open after a close series with John and Mandy Thornton who took second and Kevin Iles and Jane Wade who finished third. The strong local fleet and a weather forecast without any snow featuring attracted seven visitors to make the fleet a round dozen for some close racing around the islands on Burghfield Lake.
A rather unstable but generally south westerly breeze provided some challenging racing, with 90 degree shifts (thankfully mainly between races) and strength ranging from a millpond to marginal planning testing the competitors.
The first race provided the biggest tactical decision right at the start. With the line not far to leeward of one of the islands and a strong starboard bias, anyone tacking early off the start would be forced one side of the island, whilst anyone wanting to go the other side would have to get a clean start at the pin and sail close to leeward of the island in slightly less breeze for a while.
Jon Ibbotson and Charlotte Stewart got the clean start and headed off to the left with the Thorntons and this proved to be the right decision, those on the left suffering from being in less breeze on the wrong side of a persistent bend. That set the pattern for the race, with Fran and Sophie making huge gains on the second beat by going furthest left to take the lead for the second lap.
The Thorntons’ consistently good boat speed proved too much for the other competitors though, and they built a comfortable lead, followed by Fran and Soph, with Jon and Char match racing the Whites at the close to get third place.
After lunch, the wind became less predictable, so playing the shifts and hunting for pressure was the name of the game. Tim Laws and Graham Camm were first to the windward mark but were soon overhauled by Jon and Char who managed to build up a good lead upwind only for it to evaporate as the wind died to virtually nothing on the downwind legs and then blew in from behind, compressing the whole fleet into a small space.
Jon and Char just managed to get their nose in front at the leeward mark and, with Kevin and Jane, made the most of the returning fresh breeze. Jon and Char led to the finish, though the Thorntons eventually hunted down Kevin and Jane to take second place.
Going into the final race, the Thorntons, Jon and Char, and Fran and Soph could all have won overall. As it was, Kevin and Jane led comfortably around the first lap, going left as the wind seemed to be returning to its pattern of the first race, with Jon & Char second and both Fran and Soph and the Thorntons back in the pack.
Up the second beat, with the wind as far left as it had been all day, Jon and Char followed the lift but this took them onto what had seemed to be the unfavoured right hand side of the islands. This decision got them the lead which they held to the finish, followed by Kevin and Jane then Fran and Soph. National 12 - overall
1. N3494 - Jon Ibbotson and Charlotte Stewart
2. N3443 - John and Mandy Thornton
3. N3512 - Kevin Iles and Jane Wade