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Dyer Cup 2021 at Blackwater Sailing Club

by Christine Brown 15 Oct 2021 03:15 PDT 10 October 2021
Start of the Dyer Cup at Blackwater © Peter Gould

A sparkling October afternoon attracted 50 boats to take part in the end of season finale trophy race, the Dyer Cup.

The race team, led by Sheena Berney, had George Whitchurch providing a committee boat start just downriver from Clarks and they were undeterred by a spectacular formation of four USAF F15 fighter jets that flew low over them a few minutes before the start. The fleet set off in good time for a gentle reach down to the start line with a menagerie of cruisers and dinghies including pretty much every class sailing at the club.

The course would take the fleet on a tight reach downriver to Doctor, then a fetch, turning into a beat for some, back up the river through the Doubles and to Hilly Pool, then a broad reach to Herring Point, and finally a beat back against the tide to the finish line at the Club.

The fleet got away cleanly and on time, with most being line shy, except for the Fireball of Charlie Stewart and Sue Gibson which hit the line at full speed on the gun and broke away from the fleet. The breeze was up and down all the way to Doctor, with some gusts catching a few out, a quick swim for Richard and Mara Thomas in their RS200, and Barry Ely and Lyndsey O'Reilly in Poohsticks doing well to avoid a broach when reaching in close company with a concerned looking Paul Allen in his Fusion! It was a great sight to see as places were won and lost all the way to Doctor.

As the boats turned at Doctor there was close racing throughout the fleet, Stewart and Gibson had slipped back into the pack with the other Fireballs, but places were changing all the way back to Hilly Pool as what started as a tight three sail reach became a beat. Joe and Clare Bird were leading the fleet home in their 49er, Julian Berney was mixing it up at the front in his National 18, crewed by Jess Welch and Martyn Hare. The Hare brothers Dan and Jamie were having their own private battle in their Aero's and the 420's were enjoying a close race, Nick Evans and Joey Taylor getting in front. The cruisers were making their presence felt, with John Dyer and team in Breezy looking impressive towards the front of the fleet.

Further back the slower boats were racing well, Julie Nelson and Jessica Finch, both sailing single handed in Mirrors, were pushing each other all the way, and the club cruisers continued to make good progress through the fleet.

At Hilly Pool the Fireball's race was still very much on. Dave Hall and Paul Constable picked a perfect line into the mark to avoid the need for a tack and rounded just ahead, looking as if they would get away on the reach to Herring Point. However, Stewart and Gibson, rounding in fourth place were not done, and taking a lower line, seemingly in less favourable tide, found a way back and led the others home on a close, short tacking duel to the finish line, just holding off Mark Maskell and Nigel Sheppard.

It was still all to play for further back in the fleet, with everyone clearly enjoying the gains and losses to be made in the final beat to the finish. Hare and Hare in the Aero's battled all the way, with Jamie just getting in front.

The Mirrors were not far behind, as the breeze freshened to help the slower boats beat the tide and catch up on the early finishers.

Back ashore the club was running a MacMillan Cancer Support Charity event, everyone enjoyed drinking tea and eating vast amounts of cake in the late afternoon sunshine whilst the Race Officer and her team worked out the results in super quick time. Thanks to the generosity of members and guests, £912 was raised for this very important charity so a big thank you to all who showed their support. The results were very close throughout the fleet, anticipation was building, taking into account handicaps, nobody knew who the winners were going to be! It was an excellent day for the slower boats, with Julie Nelson in her Mirror winning both the Slow Handicap trophy and the Dyer Cup, and Jonathan Payne / Alan Sargeant in Ffumbler winning the Cruiser Cup. Nelson was absolutely delighted, sailing the first Mirror ever to win the Dyer Cup, and Payne couldn't believe he had won with such a dirty bottom!

Alongside the hugely successful cake sale in aid of Macmillan, the local branch of the RNLI had a stall selling Christmas cards, calendars and gift items and made £330. With sunshine, good racing, cake and shopping a good day was had by all.

The worthy prize winners were:

Dyer Cup
1 - Julie Nelson, Mirror
2 - Jessica Finch, Mirror
3 - Rob and Wendy Walker, Wanderer

Dyer Cup - Slow Handicap Trophy
1 - Julie Nelson, Mirror
2 - Jessica Finch, Mirror

Dyer Cup - Cruiser Trophy
1 - Ffumbler, Jonathan Payne and Alan Sargeant
2 - Breezy, John Dyer, Joe Leary, James, Sarah and Shelley

If you would like to visit the club with a view to joining then please contact our membership secretary, email .

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