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Noble Marine Lightning 368 Travellers at Sutton-in-Ashfield Sailing Club

by John Butler 13 Sep 02:01 PDT 12 September 2021
Duncan Cheshire leads John Butler during the Noble Marine Lightning 368 Open at Sutton-in-Ashfield © Mike Wilshere

Six visiting Lightning 368 sailors from as far away as Essex & Cheshire joined two locals for the Sutton in Ashfield SC Open Meeting in Nottinghamshire on Sunday 12th September, part of the Noble Marine Insurance Lightning 368 Travellers Trophy Series. Winds were light, shifty and fickle throughout the day, with only the last race having a half decent breeze.

In the 1st race, in what we initially thought might be a sailing "Raducanu" moment, local 14 year old Luke Wilshire shot out from the starboard end of the start line and rounded the windward mark first, pulling away to a lead of over 200 metres by the end of the downwind run. Despite being one of the sailors from the home club, he then went for the wrong mark, to shouts of "Luke" & "7" from the rest of the fleet.

After his spectacular "own goal", Luke slipped back to 5th, and Caroline Hollier inherited the lead with Simon Hopkins and Jason Gallagher in hot pursuit, and positions stayed unchanged for the remainder of the lap until they approached the infamous number 7 buoy again.

The leaders became becalmed at the buoy, and Bryan Westley, who rounded last at the prior mark, proceeded to sail around the bulk of the fleet upwind, passing all but two of the stationary leaders, and into 3rd place behind Simon and then Duncan Cheshire, with Jason in 4th.

Simon & Duncan then both sailed into a hole at the next mark, and Bryan circumvented them to grab the lead at the final windward mark. With a long run down the reservoir, and a short reach to the finish, Bryan held off Simon the whole way, and secured his first race win on the circuit, celebrating in style his "Zero to Hero" move to much encouragement and cheering from the rest of the fleet. Duncan came in 3rd, with a fast closing Chris Hill in 4th.

In Race 2 it was Bryan who took advantage of a port biased line to get a port tack flyer right by the mark, and together with Duncan and John Butler the trio led away and cleared the fleet who started on starboard.

John fell into a hole by hanging out to the right, so at the first mark it was Bryan, Duncan, Simon & Luke in a gaggle. The positions stayed static for a lap, but with the wind dropping to a whisper, and with big calm patches, it was John who caught his own personal zephyr on the run to move through to 3rd and be on the outside of Bryan & Simon at the last turning mark before the shorten course flag was raised.

Somehow Simon squeezed to windward of Bryan on the final reach, passing him in the last 10 metres before the finish, with John a boat length behind Bryan in 3rd. Youngster Luke had his best result of the day with a well deserved 4th place.

The course remained the same for the last race, together with the port bias to the start line. John was early at the port end, and had to do a loop back round, and with a fantastic start Duncan led off the line, clearing the starboard end starters. Closest of the others was Simon, who from the middle of the line clawed his way back to John, but then went too far right.

Duncan was clear ahead at the top mark, with John 50 metres back, and the pair had pulled a big lead on the rest. Caroline sailed through both Simon and Jason and set off in pursuit of the two boys ahead, but in a turn of fortune it was then Jason and Simon who broke back through on the next lap and carried on the chase of the leaders.

Out front, John got the better of Duncan downwind, with Duncan passing and re-passing John upwind and stealing a march each time, which John closed on the runs. On the final beat, John went left, but Duncan failed to cover, and John was lifted to the mark as the wind increased.

Heading onto the run, John had a slender lead, and by avoiding Duncan's wind shadow was marginally ahead at the last turn. Learning from Bryan's misjudgement in the previous race, John luffed up and stayed high on the final reach, holding off Duncan's late surge.

With Simon and Bryan each having a 1st and a 2nd, it was Simon's better result in the last race, where he came in 4th behind Jason, that tipped the overall win in his favour. John's win in the last race elevated him into 3rd place overall behind Bryan, with Duncan 4th.

At the prize-giving, Simon praised the race team led by Mike Wilshire for creating competitive & fair courses in really demanding light winds, where the direction changed through almost 135 degrees during the course of the day.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3Pts
1st428Simon HopkinsUp River YC21‑43
2nd407Bryan WestleyAldridge SC12‑83
3rd433John ButlerSutton in Ashfield SC‑8314
4th257Duncan CheshireWinsford Flash SC3‑525
5th417Jason GallagherDenholme SC7(DNF)310
6th432Chris HillUlley SC4‑6610
7th95Luke WilshireSutton in Ashfield SC64‑710
8th438Caroline HolllierWest Oxfordshire SC5‑7510

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