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Noble Marine Lightning 368 Inland Championship 2023 at Oxford Sailing Club

by John Butler & Duncan Cheshire 21 Aug 2023 05:00 PDT 19-20 August 2023

It was another wild windy day that faced the 13 competitors at Oxford on Saturday 19th August, with a steady 16-18 knots rising to 23 knots in the gusts!

It looked a bit intimidating before the fleet launched, but most found it was great when they plucked up the courage to venture out! Caroline Hollier sported the smaller 5.8m2 rig, and the two juniors Clayton & Georgie Parker opted for even smaller storm sails, which was a wise decision given the ferocity of the gusts.

Race 1

Protagonists Simon Hopkins and Duncan Cheshire chose the pin end of the line, but Simon attempted to tack off early onto port without sufficient space, and ended up tangling with Duncan coming in on starboard, which caused Duncan to capsize. Simon then had to perform his 720 penalty turn, not an easy task in the testing conditions.

Meanwhile, further down the line, Andrew Yuille made the best start, closely accompanied by Caroline Hollier and John Butler. Andrew rounded the windward mark ahead of John, with the recovering Duncan miraculously clawing back to third, and all of them set off down the close reach to the 2nd mark of the trapezoidal course in a cloud of spray.

On the run to the gybe mark, Duncan, not satisfied with the earlier swim, volunteered to throw the boat into a windward capsize.

It was a wild ride on a broad reach to the bottom mark, with both Ian Ranson and Caroline catching up John. Up the second beat, Simon finally got back on terms with the leaders, and rounded not far behind Andrew with John in third.

Andrew and Simon were so engaged in their private battle for the lead, that Andrew headed off to the third rather than the second mark, closely followed by Simon, and by the time they had both realised their mistake John was already around the correct mark and heading down the run.

Both Simon and Andrew had to tack back to redeem their error, and meanwhile Ian took Caroline and advanced into second place, followed by Duncan who had recovered from the earlier capsize(s) and gained places on the beat to the top mark.

At the bottom mark, Ian had closed to within ten boat lengths of John, and in the tacking duel to the finish he drove to leeward of John towards the committee boat. John's covering tack to windward of Ian was just good enough, and he edged it on the line by one second. Simon recovered to fourth behind Duncan, whilst Andrew had to be content with sixth behind Caroline.

Race 2

The wind moderated a notch after lunch, but it was still too much for some, with plenty of capsizes.

Simon nailed the start at the pin end, never to be headed, making sure of no errors this time. Of the others, it was Caroline with the small rig that made the best of not being overpowered, and rounded the top mark in company with Duncan, John and Andrew. Duncan took a dunking, so did well to get back in contention again by the second beat.

In the meantime, Andrew made short work of pulling ahead of John downwind, and catching Caroline but not making an impression on Simon's lead.

Places remained consistent to the windward mark, but having recovered to second Duncan made the same error as Simon and Andrew in race 1 and headed to the wrong turning mark, allowing Caroline to get back through into second place. Andrew was still going strong in fourth place, and that's how the order finished.

Race 3

After noticing a windshift in the minute before the start, Ian had a storming port tack flyer of a start, to redeem his rather poor showing in the second race.

However, it was the strong wind specialists Simon and Duncan that dominated the race to the windward mark, with Ian in attendance, and again Simon showed his prowess in these conditions and pulled away to a good lead.

Further back, Andrew got past John on the first broad reach and set off after the lead group, passing both Ian and Duncan before the bottom mark. However, on passing the committee boat he was disappointed to realise there was another lap to do.

It was a close battle up the beat between Ian, Duncan and Andrew, with Simon already a speck in the far distance! Duncan and Ian pulled ahead of Andrew, with Duncan holding his nerve to stay in second after the reaches, run and final short upwind leg to the finish line, and he was eventually followed home by Ian and Andrew.

Duncan's success in this race meant that he was tied on points with Ian, but he secured second place overall based on the last race countback rule.

Simon Hopkins, with two wins, therefore retained the Inland Championship trophy that he won last year at the same venue, with Duncan Cheshire in second and Ian Ranson in third overall.

Once again the welcome, race management and safety cover provided by the Oxford SC teams was exemplary, and the exhausted competitors had nothing but praise for the organisers of the event.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3Pts
1st428Simon HopkinsUp River YC‑4112
2nd416Duncan CheshireWinsford Flash SC‑3325
3rd441Ian RansonBolton SC2‑935
4th433John ButlerNotts County SC1‑556
5th438Caroline HollierWOSC52‑87
6th446Andrew YuilleCookham Reach SC‑7448
7th325Paul BevanUp River YC‑106612
8th417Jason GallagherDenholme SC68‑1014
9th402Stephen HodgsonDenholme SC87‑915
10th407Bryan WestleyAldridge SC9‑10716
11th257Clayton ParkerWinsford Flash SC‑11111122
12th440Margaret ClarkeOxford SC(DNF)121224
13th337Paul TaylorOxford SC(DNF)DNSDNS30
13th209Georgie ParkerWinsford Flash SC(DNS)DNFDNS30

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