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Blaze Fathom Trophy at Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, Burnham

by Phil Aspinall 12 Jun 2020 05:02 PDT 7 June 2020

Racing finally returned to the RCYC with the first 2 races of the Blaze fleet. The anticipation was palpable especially after 12 weeks of lockdown and tension increased further when the wind played its part and racing was deferred from Saturday to Sunday.

Yet even so, at 11:05 on Sunday 7th June, 10 competitors from the ever expanding Blaze fleet cleared the start line at the end of the club pontoon and headed up river to West Quay in Race 1 of the Fathom Trophy series and the first competitive RCYC race of the COVID year

Malcolm Hutchings (836) led from the pontoon end as Nic Tolhurst (661) circled the pin-end just in case he'd been OCS. The westerly breeze at 13-15 knots was at the top end of the new "considerate and conservative" scale yet, despite general rustiness, all boats stayed the right way up as they turned at West Quay and reached for No2, gybed their way to No.5 and fetched back across to the pontoon to complete the first of 2 laps.

Hutchings had streched out a lead, Tolhurst had recovered to 2nd hotly pusued by Paul Buckley (732) and Trevor Bawden (705). Nick Milton (719) decided he needed more match fitness and returned to the pontoon desparate for the early beer that he can't have until July. Lap 2 saw Hutchings extend his lead and the podium positions stayed unchanged.

Race 2 had an equally conservative start with Buckley accelerating hard to the middle of the line and leading a much more together fleet on a repeat of the same course....and the fleet stayed closer together for both laps with several position changes in the upper/mid fleet as Charlie Matthews (666) and Robert Coyle (844) got into the groove. The final positions probably reflected the amount of post-lockdown sailing as Hutchings and Tolhurst secured another 1-2 combination with Coyle only a boat length behind in 3rd.

A socially distancing safety boat crew took the great photo of the start with the clubhouse in the background. Thanks to Team Kahneeta for the race management and keeping it simple ("go to the yellow buoy then the red buoy then the green buoy then the orange buoy until I say stop).

By and large, a great return to competitive sailing for the club. No dramas, plenty of scope to expand the number of competitors and all bodes well for round 2 in 2 weeks time and then onwards to Squib racing and an open clubhouse.

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