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Banbury Sailing Club Vintage and Classic Dinghy Open

by Tim Bury 9 Oct 2022 04:17 PDT 24 September 2022

Sixteen boats, including around ten visitors from the CVRDA and Vintage and Classic Merlin fleets, sailed in our Vintage and Classic event.

The Vintage Merlins were competing for the Demay Series and the winner would take home the Banbury Shield trophy for 12 months. They enjoyed good sailing in a force 3 northerly breeze with some sunshine. There were two races before lunch and one in the afternoon. The boats ranged from International Moths and Merlin Rockets to Solos and Mirrors, and a British Moth, a Wayfarer, a Finn (Ben Ainslie's Olympic class) and an Albacore in between, so the Duty Crew stayed on the start/finish line to record lap times. It was interesting to note how many boats could fetch the Committee Boat, or not, from Buoy 8, only partly due to the variability of the wind.

The start in race one seemed to favour those towards the pin end due to the line bias and those boats, which included Ian's Shelley and Tim and Pat in ROTS, were able to call for room to tack away from the shallows which put them in a good position up the first beat. The battle for the lead was between those two and Satisfaction, the other red Merlin who went on to finish first across the line, but not far enough in front to save his handicap from the Moths of Ian, Lyndon and Tom who took the top three places with Roger in the Mirror gaining fourth place. Merlin 3506 (Smartypants) arrived late for the start, but showed signs of things to come by rapidly catching the fleet and passing all except the leading group of boats. Graham in his newly acquired all varnished Mistral Moth was coping well on his first outing until his gooseneck failed with a loud bang forcing him to retire.

A similar pattern emerged in race two, but this time Smartypants made a good start and soon took the lead with a group of boats chasing hard. The three moths enjoyed a close battle with Lyndon and Ian swapping places several times until the decisive 3rd beat when Ian went hard right picking up a favourable wind shift giving him a decent lead over Lyndon at the windward mark. Merlin 3506 Smartypants was never headed and went on to finish with a comfortable lead, but the Moths were still close enough to take the top three spots again, with Ian Laing in Merlin 2410 finishing fourth.

During race two Graham managed to fashion and fit a replacement gooseneck with some welcome help from a member of the host club who not only found him a suitable part, but provided some power tools with which to modify it to fit the Needlespar mast.

Whether it was too much lunch, tiredness or more blustery conditions, a number of boats - and not just Moths - capsized in the afternoon. Our Safety Boat attended but no-one needed rescuing.

Race three saw a bit more wind and the welcome return of Graham's Mistral to join the fray. A very even start made the first beat quite hectic with the fleet bunched tightly until the faster boats started pulling clear. Smartypants established an early lead and gradually pulled away with some impressive downwind speed thanks to some excellent spinnaker work. ROTS had a better start this time but couldn't match the pace of Smartypants. The three leading Moths were again locked in close combat until Tom had a bit of a wobble in the Magnum causing him to drop back. Lyndon and Ian were about to cross tacks on the second beat when Graham who was still coming down the reach failed to spot the boats approaching from leeward causing Lyndon into a panic Gybe which resulted in a lengthy capsize. Ian was able to tack away narrowly avoiding getting entangled in the same incident which left him dicing with Merlin 2604 until a big gust on the reach down to mark 1 caught the Merlin mid kite drop resulting in a wild broach and a capsize. The Albacore of Pat and Sandy suffered a similar fate later in the race and at one point Ian fell out of his Merlin which sailed on without him, so by the end the various incidents combined to shake things up a bit in the results. Ian hung on to take a third victory just ahead of Graham and Christian in their very well sailed Merlin with Roger in the Mirror taking a well deserved third ahead of Gavin in the British Moth and George in the Wayfarer, both of whom seemed to relish the breezier conditions... well they stayed the right way up which helps!

We had no idea who would win the series until after tea, when Sailwave converted the finishing times into average lap times and a set of results. It turned out that the Moths had had a ball(!), taking the first three places. Prizes were awarded to the top boats, K2883 Ian 1st, 3222 Lyndon 2nd, 4066 Tom 3rd, 2604 Jeremy and Sarah 1st Vintage Merlin, 2410 Ian and Steven 2nd Vintage Merlin, and 3506 Graham and Christian 1st Classic Merlin.

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