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Noble Marine Lightning 368 Travellers Trophy Series at Oxford Sailing Club

by Jason Gallagher 1 Sep 23:16 PDT 28 August 2021
Competitors in the Noble Marine Lightning 368 Travellers Open at Oxford © Jason Gallagher

A bright Bank Holiday weekend saw the Lightning 368s return, after a few years break, to Oxford SC on Farmoor Reservoir for the next round of their 2021 Travellers Series.

With it being the Bank Holiday Weekend, and their being a little travel fatigue following the trek to Essex the previous week, 4 visitors joined 3 club boats for what looked to be an enjoyable day of sailing. Winds looked good with a NE direction, and a large open - and thankfully non-moving - body of water meant the pond sailors were definitely feeling up for it.

Race 1 started in a 12 knot North Easterly breeze, and a knot of Lightnings crowding the starboard end of the line saw good starts from Bryan Westley, Chris Hill and Margaret Humphries closely followed by Caroline Hollier. The fleet stayed low of the windward mark up the course except for Jason Gallagher who tacked off to find clear air and sailed clear to a 50m lead as he rounded the windward mark. This continued to extend over the following reach as the wind held steady and the rest of the runners battled behind with Caroline moving through to 2nd.

Jason took a dead reckoning line on the run, but the wind started to drop and move out towards the centre of the lake, which allowed the pack to close up, as they had been able to stay with the wind from the start of the run. So, by the time the 2nd lap had started Jason's lead had been reduced considerably with Caroline and Chris within 20 metres, but the wind had recovered, and Jason pulled away a little over the following beat.

Meanwhile Margaret had consolidated 4th over David Humphries and Bryan - who was battling with an influx of water to his craft with the loss of a pad at the front of his centreboard casing.

Rounding the windward mark, Jason continued to lead but the wind was becoming softer and more variable by the minute, and Caroline inexorably chased him down, demonstrating great light wind skills and a 3 stone weight advantage to take the first race by a few seconds, with Chris in 3rd.

Following a short break for lunch the fleet meandered its way back to the start line for Race 2 in barely a puff, and a few of the heavier helms were fearing the worse, as the Race Officer had shortened the course a little in anticipation. However, a dark front was coming in and whilst the clouds looked threatening no rain fell but the wind shifted and returned at its heaviest that day.

A large port bias was apparent on the line now but only Jason and David went for that end with the rest of the fleet struggling to make the line on starboard.

David then proceeded to sail Jason off the line and shot into a lead over the rest of the fleet, whilst Jason came back round to cross the line last, further compounded by quickly interfering with Caroline and getting a nice 720 to consolidate that last position.

David was quickly overhauled by Margaret, Bryan, Chris and Caroline but as a whole the bulk of the fleet approached the windward mark together, with a hard hiking Jason closing fast.

Margaret continued to set the pace over the reach and run with Caroline moving up to 2nd followed by Chris and Jason which was the order at the start of lap 2.

Again, the beat favoured the charging Jason, who kept clear and sailed through the leaders to take a good lead at the next mark, with both Caroline and Chris working past Margaret. Further back Bryan's experiments with his centreboard failed to improve his woes as he slipped down the fleet.

With places established, the final lap looked as if it may be a procession to the line except for the fact we're talking about Jason leading, and at the start of the run he inexplicably decided to follow one of the British Moths who headed out to a zone of little breeze, whilst Caroline and Chris licked their lips and proceeded to go high and follow the wind and hunt him down.

Realising his error, Jason moved back into the wind and just managed to cross Caroline and stay below her coming into the mark, taking the water. The short reach before the beat to the finish saw Caroline harry Jason who just maintained his positional advantage to come onto the beat with a tight enough line to make the finish without a tack. Caroline, Chris and Margaret followed in that order.

Race 3 was a shoot-out between Caroline and Jason for the day, with Chris determined to beat Jason after a series of events where he'd kept getting pipped on final legs.

The wind was still there but was becoming patchier on the water, and position on the water could be significant.

With the fleet starting on starboard, Bryan took a gamble and started at the port end with a flyer and took the lead.

The wind continued to shift, and the fleet engaged in a series of tacks to keep in it, and positions changed continually, except for Bryan's lead which he maintained to the mark followed by Chris, Jason and Margret and Caroline.

Chris sailed through Bryan on the reach and stretched away establishing a good lead over the fleet, but then repeated Jason's mistake from the previous race, and allowed Caroline who had come through Jason and Bryan to close up on the run.

The next lap started with Chris, Caroline and Jason all within a couple of boat lengths, but the wind continued to be unpredictable and it was anyone's race.

Jason, taking a chance, tacked off on port to try and find clear air, which he did... except there wasn't a lot of it, and by the windward mark Chris and Caroline had pulled well clear.

Chris was still leading, but tacked approaching the mark, much to Caroline's appreciation. She was able to sail straight in and round in front, and with the winds getting lighter the race was effectively over and she took both the final race and the event.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3Pts
1st438Caroline HolllierWest Oxfordshire SC1‑212
2nd417Jason GallagherDenholme SC21‑33
3rd432Chris HillUlley SC‑3325
4th440Margaret HumphriesOxford SC‑4448
5th329David HumphriesOxford SC‑75510
6th407Bryan WestleyAldridge SC5‑6611
7th241Russell HowarthOxford SC6‑7713

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