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GP14 Midland Bell Series at Nantwich & Border Counties Sailing Club

by Michelle Evans 11 May 01:28 PDT 5 May 2019
GP14 Midland Bell Series at Nantwich © Michelle Evans

Nantwich & Border Counties SC is one of those venues on the Midland Bell circuit where you prepare for anything and ignore the forecast! A mill pond and grey sky greeted the unpacking visitors and a rare sighting of an early Andy Hunter who had rigged his boat before ours was even off the trolley. Sam Watson, keen not to start rumours of a more mature and timely approach to sailing, turned up as the sequence was starting and abandoned his car with the door open to make it just in time.

I didn't see the start of race 1 as we had inadvertently parked up on the shallows and were trying to get to the line with the rudder off at the time. In the lightest wind of the day the fleet of thirteen boats started beating up to towards the sunken bandstand. Proving they are a class act which ever way round they are in the boat, Andy helmed him and Sam to the win with Mark McKeever and Kevin Hopkins (Midland SC) second and Ian Willis and Keith Dutton (South Staffs SC) third.

After lunch we headed out for race two, Ian and Keith were over and had to go back and most of the fleet went left with Pete/Michelle (Chase SC) and Mark/Kevin going right and benefiting from getting the wind first. Pete and Michelle rounded first and stayed in the lead until the top of the penultimate beat where the irrepressible Mark and Kevin snuck past. To add insult to injury we then lost a place to Andy and Sam on the last beat to finish in third.

For the start of the third race we may have gently assisted Mark and Kevin over the line and were suitably sorry to see them having to go back round the pin end behind us. Proving his credentials as a good starter are still sound it was John and Graham that rounded windward first followed by Andy and Sam and then Pete and Michelle. The wind was building nicely at this point and we snuck past John and Graham on the run and started to advance on Andy and Sam. Behind, Mark and Kevin and Ian and Keith were trading places for most of the first half of the race and as we got sucked back towards the advancing pack Andy and Sam pulled out.

Nantwich is one of those places where you never relax as between the criss-crossing course, fluky shifts and its own micro climate you never know what is coming. For once though we did know what was coming as we couldn't get away from them, Mark and Kevin took us on the beat only to lose the place on the tight reach as we steamed past. The race ended with a gentle toot, so gentle that we carried on and did another three legs before realising.

Andy and won the day with two wins and he thanked birthday boy Sam for getting out of bed for him as well as their unofficial sponsor and his grandad Dave Edwards. Nantwich were as usual very hospitable, and a great day was had by all. The next event on the Midland Bell circuit is at Midland SC on 12 May. Four have qualified for the series already with Ian/Keith and Pete/Michelle tied on points at the top. See series-so-far results here [PDF].


1st Andy Hunter and Sam Watson (Nantwich SC)
2nd Mark McKeever and Kevin Hopkins (Midland SC)
3rd Pete Jacques and Michelle Evans (Chase SC)
1st Silver Fleet (5th overall) John Salomonson and Graham Flynn (Aldridge SC / Chase SC)
1st Bronze Fleet (6th overall) Peter Nugent and Charles Saunders (Staunton Harold SC)

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