Despite some notable absentees, including those (who shall remain nameless) who got as far as rigging up before thinking better of it on good Friday, a superb 18 boats contested the Easter Tray.
The event is run traditionally at Itchenor over the first 3 days of the bank holiday and signals the start of the 14 season. Competitors came as far as Kiel in Germany and a 2 boat contingent from Restronguet in Cornwall.
Visiting boats had made various attempts to mitigate the possibility of being mounted at 15 kts by a home boat, ranging from the subtle (green foils); to preventative (orange hulls); to palliative (full foam sponsons), fortunately these devices proved to be precautionary this time.
Any competitors expecting some respite from what seems to be the longest wettest coldest winter in living memory were disappointed – despite a proliferation of daffodils on the roadside to the sailing club, the weather can only be described as grim, with persistent heavy rain and temperatures rarely climbing above 5 degrees. It really was wetter than an otter’s pocket out there, and not half as warm. In fairness the smell was probably better.
Further challenges met the hardy sailors out on the course area, where the tricky southeast wind direction and a persistently shifting breeze blowing across the estuary, not to mention an increasingly strong flooding tide meant that legendary race officer Roddy Bridge took 2 hours to get a course laid to his satisfaction. The shivering fleet repaid his efforts with a general recall, leaving Roddy no option but to slip on the black hood.
On the second start the fleet got away cleanly, with Archie Massey / Harvey Hillary leading the fleet out of the biased pin end and around the windward mark. European Champs, Ed Fitz and Neale Jones were close behind, as were Douglas Pattison and Mark Tait, who narrowly avoided a windward mark pile up. Also showing well by the leeward mark were Oli “the Boss” Voss and kleiner Eike from Kiel, and the Yeoman brothers who were laying the foundations for a very solid series over the weekend. Conspicuous by their absence were Massey / Hillary who had a kite problem and had to head for home. This paved the way for Jones / Fitzgerald to signal intent by stretching out to a handsome lead, navigating between the puffs uphill and downhill. Behind them Holman and Ash managed to recover from being doglocked to the first windward and sniggle past Pattison and Tait for second, with Yeoman / Yeoman in 4th. Props to Father / Son team Liam and Tom Stacpoole from Restronguet taking a couple of big scalps on the last beat in their venerable 14 year old M12.
It was still wet enough to drown a fish out there and probably freeze it too, so the fleet voted with their feet and sailed straight in against foul tide and weakening breeze. Once warmed up, all the sailors enjoyed the first of two well attended socials, in this instance the traditional hospitality of one of the ISC members, this year provided kindly by Philip MacDanell by way of some warming cocktails.
Racing over Easter on Chichester harbour comes with pro’s and cons; With Easter being rather oddly based on the lunar Calendar means it’s spring tides giving that additional dimension to the racing, but it does mean that high water is just after lunch time, which gives some additional time to recover from the previous night’s activities.
Having missed a race on Friday, up to 3 races were scheduled on Friday with a light North Westerley and a strengthening Ebb through the day, and a few more of the fleet venturing out in the slightly more clement weather.
Race two saw Douglas Pattison and Mark Tait established a good lead by the windward mark, however Neale Jones and Ed Fitzgerald slipped past at the gate, as Doug and Mark failed to pick up on the course change over the previous day repeating the gracious move they’d employed the year before, this order was held to the finish, followed by Katie and Nigel, as ever fast in the lighter conditions having deemed the conditions warm enough to come and play.
Race 3 – Dan Holman and Damien Ash sailed away from the fleet with starring performances early in the race from George and Jack Yeoman, Andy Shaw and Rob Struckett, however by the end of the race Doug Pattison and Mark Tait had pulled through to second followed by Andy Fitzgerald and Richard Dobson, then George and Jack.
The breeze held on to enable Race 4 to be completed, in the ever strengthening tide once again forced the Black flag to be hoisted after a general Recall. Yet again Neale and Ed sailed a superb race, put under pressure the whole way round by Dan and Damien, follow up yet again by Douglas and Mark.
After an evening of James Bond themed frivolities, the fleet arrived down the club to the slightest peak of a yellow/ orange thing in the sky! On the plus side it was significantly warmer than the previous 2 days but with little wind forecast some members of the fleet called it early and began to pack up and head home. After a 1-hour postponement the wind swung round to the south and picked up to 7-10knots.
Race 1 – With a strong ebb tide not even the ’round the ends’ flag was enough to stop most of the fleet being well over on the first start. After a quick turnaround, veteran race officer Roddy Bridge went straight for the black and the fleet got away first time. Patterson/Tait followed by series leaders Jones/FitzGerald then Holman/Ash round the windward mark. As the ebb tide strengthened it turned out (rather unusually in 14s) that the downwind was going to take longer than the upwind. With the Race shortend after 1 lap it was a wind for Patterson/Tait with Jones/FitzGerald 2nd, Holman/Ash 3rd and FitzGerald/Dobson 4th.
Race 2 – With the ebb tide strengthening more Mr Bridge went straight for the black flag. With the fleet being extra cautious they got away first time. Jones/Fitzgerald underestimated the tide and over stood the windward mark massively but still rounded first just ahead of FitzGerald/Dobson with Patterson/Tait next with Holman/Ash 4th. Holman/Ash gybed at the windward mark and headed over to the other shore which became the way to go as they leapfrogged the other boats to take the lead at the leeward mark. After another quick beat and a slow run the race officer shortened the beat and the fleet headed home. At the finish it was Holman/Ash for the win with overall all winners Jones/FitzGerald in second, Patterson/Tait 3rd and FitzGerald/Dobson 4th.
|Pos||Sail No||Boat Name||Helm & Crew||R1||R2||R3||R4||R5||R6||Pts|
|1||1553||Scrumpet||Neale Jones & Ed FitzGerald||1||1||5||1||2||2||7|
|2||1556||Helly the Pelly||Dan Holman & Damian Ash||2||7||1||2||3||1||9|
|3||1561||Marilyn||Douglas Pattison & Mark Tait||3||2||2||3||1||3||11|
|4||1517||Poppet||G Yeoman & J Yeoman||4||4.5||4||DNS||6||5||23.5|
|5||1530||Smash It||Andy FitzGerald & Richard Dobson||9||10||3||OCS||4||4||30|
|6||91||Prime||Oliver Voss & Eike Ekrig||5||9||11||5||7||DNC||37|
|7||1500||‑||Liam Stacpoole & Tom Stacpoole||7||11||8||OCS||5||6||37|
|8||1544||Pamela||Andy Shaw & Rob Struckett||6||6||7||6||DNC||DNC||44|
|9||1546||Jungle Fire||Charles Duchesne & Tom Bracewell||DNC||8||12||8||9||9||46|
|11||1548||The Beast||Julian Pearson & D Nickalls||DNF||12||9||4||8||DNC||52|
|12||1554||‑||P Crockford & J Elsby Hartman||10||14||13||9||12||8||52|
|13||1557||Amazing Masie||N Ash & K Nurton||DNC||3||6||DNC||DNC||DNC||66|
|14||1527||Blue Fire||Rich Bone & Luke Boughton||DNC||DNC||DNC||DNC||10||7||74|
|15||1551||Not Yet Dead||DNC||15||14||10||DNC||DNC||77|
|16||1529||Pink Flesh||Robin Pascal & Martin Pascal||DNC||13||15||DNC||11||DNF||77|
|17||1563||Puff||Archie Massey & Harvey Hillary||DNF||DNF||DNC||DNC||DNC||DNC||95|
|17||1550||Binky||Tom Watkins & Alex Smith||DNC||DNC||DNC||DNC||DNF||DNS||95|
by Neale Jones