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Alton Water 2020 Fox's Chandlery & Anglian Water Frostbite Series - Week 8

by Jenny Pavey 28 Feb 2020 05:25 PST 23 February 2020
And they're still smiling - week 8 of the Alton Water Fox's Chandlery & Anglian Water Frostbite Series © Tim Bees

After two weeks of cancelled racing due to storms Ciara and Darren, the forecast for week 8 of this nine-week series wasn't looking much more promising. It was forecast to be very windy yet again but with the likelihood of it dropping around lunchtime and, unlike the previous two weeks the Highways Agency had no plans to close the nearby Orwell Bridge, which is a good indication of how windy it is.

So, this week the decision was made not to call off racing the day before but to see what it was like on the day and whether enough people were keen to race. Another indication of whether the conditions are sailable is whether the Race Office is able to lay the marks beforehand or whether it was too extreme to be able to do that safely.

An apprehensive group of sailors turned up to find that the Race Officer had indeed been out and laid a short square course that would keep the fleet fairly compact and would allow short races with a quick turnaround. With assurances from the Alton Water staff that there was plenty of safety cover, a show of hands indicated that there were enough people willing to brave the elements to run a race.

As numbers were considerably down from the 60 boats that have raced previous weeks in this series, the decision was made to have an all-in start instead of the usual five fleets and, with the exception of a couple of RS200s and a Laser Vago, all the participants were in single-handers. The Race Officer briefed competitors beforehand, stressing that there would only be a second and third race if enough people stayed out for them, with no expectations of completing the planned three races.

The first race started in a 25 mph west-south-westerly with some much stronger gusts. There were several capsizes but most of the sailors handled the conditions well and an RS200 and the Vago were even confident enough to use their asymmetrics.

The sailors enjoyed the first race so much that all but one stayed out for a second race. It started in similar conditions but halfway through the wind picked up and a line of horizontal rain considerably reduced visibility, but it was fairly short lived and on spotting some blue sky out to the west and beginning to dry out, the sailors stayed out for the third race of the day, which was a catch-up race from the previous weeks. The sun came out and the breeze moderated enough for all but one of the starters to finish the third race.

Special mention must be made of Graham Seabrook and his crew in the Laser Vago who capsized so many times the Committee Boat crew lost count, but crossed the finish line of the third race with a loud whoop, promptly moving themselves up to third the Asymmetric fleet rankings. Credit also to young sailors Noah Fitzgerald in his Topper and Max Shiel in his Laser 4.7 who both sailed well.

It was another good day for Tim Bees, our series photographer who took some exceptional photographs and managed to have his zoom of doom focussed on people at just the right moment.

It's all change at the top of the Laser and Medium fleets with Rheanna Pavey who won all three races and Ben Powell in his RS Aero 7 who also enjoyed the breezy conditions now taking first place. The leaders of the other three fleets remain the same.

This Sunday (1 March) is the last of the series, with two races planned, followed by prize-giving. If two races are sailed, a final discard comes into play, so anything could happen and to add to the anticipation the current overall series winner is not being revealed this week.

Tim Bees' photos can be seen at and there are more photos on the Alton Water Sailing Facebook page.

Race results to date can be found on the Alton Water Frostbite Results Facebook page.

Results highlights for this week (all-in, not fleet results):

Rheanna PaveyLaser RadialStour SC111
Noah FitzgeraldTopper Tattingstone Valley SC522.5
Ben Powell RS Aero 7Tattingstone Valley SC432.5
Harry WallheadLaserRoyal Harwich YC244

Series leaders after eight races:

FastAdy PellsFinnHarwich Town SC
AsymmetricStephen Videlo/Ethan DaveyRS200Waldringfield SC
Laser Rheanna Pavey RadialStour SC
MediumBen PowellRS Aero 7Tattingstone Valley SC
SlowAndy Webb/Evie MayRS Feva XLHarwich Town SC

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