After Big Wednesday’s fun and games it was back to the serious business of points racing on day five of Pyefleet Week 2015 supported by Zhik which was sponsored by Britau Scaffolding Ltd. Whilst Tuesday’s wind was a little bit too strong and Wednesday’s wind was a little bit too light, Thursday’s wind was just perfect allowing all the fleets to race.
First away in the morning session were the Cat Handicap where Paul Mines and Stu Smith’s Tornado was once again victorious. With two more races still to sail they now have a three point lead over fellow Tornado sailor Barry Arnison with the F18 of Paddy Carr and Mark Dyvie/Sofie Carr in third.
Next off from the committee boat line were the Brightlingsea One Designs where the competition is absolutely cutthroat in the 23-strong fleet. Today’s race winner was Chris Matthews, crewed by Ed Gibbons and Pete McCoy, with Jeremy Newman, crewed by son Ollie and Piers Lambert, second and Malcolm Goodwin, crewed by Georgina White and Graham Sanderson third. In the overall standings just a single point now separates leader Dan Willett, crewed by brother James and Fraz, who finished fifth in today’s race, from second placed Malcolm Goodwin. Jeremy Newman is four points behind the leader in third, while today’s win takes Chris Matthews up into fourth place, two points behind Newman.
Chris and Gillian Jordan made it four straight wins in a row in their Laser 2000 and now lead the Slow Handicap by four points. The fight for second is fierce with the Lark of Chris and Helena/Cathy Fish and the Laser II of Emma and Martina Barry tied on seven points with Chris Fish taking second on count-back.
The young Tera sailors continue to impress with their skills and tenacity. The race winner today was Matt Smith who is now in fourth overall with seven points. A second in today’s race was just enough to keep Josh Davies at the top of the leader board with five points and slotting nicely into second between Davies and Smith and on six points is Jack Oakley.
The Dads And Little Ones Fleet is turning into a family battle between Louis and Amelia Hiscocks, who are sailing with mum Melissa Heppell and friend Tim Ashworth respectively. Louis won today’s race, with Amelia second and Willow Cross sailing with Dad Stephen third. Louis and Melissa now lead the regatta by a four-point margin from Amelia and Tim with Willow and Stephen one further point behind in third.
By the afternoon session the wind had increased a little with the rising tide and the Fast Handicap took off from the line in spectacular style. Today it was the turn of the RS800 of David Conlon and Ed Gibbons to shine, beating Sam Curtis and Ben Clegg’s 49er with Chris Bannister’s Contender third. Although Chris Matthews and Sarah Bines had their worst result of the regatta with a fifth place in their Merlin Rocket, which they promptly discarded, they still retain the overall lead by a single point from Curtis and Clegg. Two points back in third are Piers Lambert and Derek Gentry, also sailing a Merlin Rocket, who finished fourth in today’s race.
The going just gets tougher and tougher in the Laser fleet where the top three are separated by just two points. Ollie Newman claimed his fist victory of the regatta and now sits in third overall on seven points. Steve Williams finished third in the race and is now second overall on six points, and Chris Rust retains the overall lead with five points despite a fifth place – his worst of the regatta.
Alexander Clark has dominated the Laser Radial fleet so far and continued to do so today with his fourth win of the series. Ben Eeles and Brandon Hastings finished second and fourth respectively but are neck and neck in the overall standings with seven points apiece and Ben claiming second place on countback alone.
The Wivenhoe One Designs are also very close with Rob Maloney and Janine Ford/Peter Goldsmith taking second in today’s race to retain their overall lead by two points from race winners Nic Blower and Cassie Catchpole. George Brown and David Tournay are two further points back in third.
Not content with lying fourth overall in the Tera fleet, Matt Smith has teamed up with Issy Taylor-Jones in an RS Feva and is dominating the Cadet Handicap with four straight wins for a six point lead over the Laser 4.7 of Connie Hughes. Ryan Thomas in a Laser Pico and Josh Davies and Blake Tudor in an RS Feva are tied on 12 points with Ryan taking third place overnight on count back.
The Fireballs are another fleet which is clearly going to go right down to the wire. Race four was won by Richard Mansfield and Kathy Chabo, with Rhys Lankester and Dave Gibbons second and Elaine and Warren Tudor third. The Tudor’s now have a single point lead over Rhys Lankester, who in turn have a six point cushion on third and fourth placed Mansfield, who is on equal points with Rowland Smith and Jack Parmenter.
The SigneT Nationals fleet completed races four and five of their series today and as a result their leaderboard has been shuffled. Overnight leaders Mike Overs and Mark Cowlingh struggled to find their form today and added a fourth and third to their scorecard, which drops them down into second place overall. A third followed by a win allowed Kate Taylor and Rob Austey to jump up from second to first and with a win followed by a second place Pat Overs and Steve Whiteside are now in third overall. Taylor/Austey and Overs/Cowlingh are now separated by just two points overall with Overs/Whiteside claiming third but sharing 13 equal points with Tim and Tom Wild.
Whilst the racing results are vitally important, Pyefleet Week is about so much more and it’s wonderful to see not only the broad grins of the racers as they return home, but also the smiling faces of the dozens of youngsters who are simply loving being on the water in one form or another. As well as great support for those who want to start sailing and racing, there’s also endless beachside fun with crabbing, swimming, canoeing, and generally messing about in boats all on offer. Dave White’s RRD is one of the Official Suppliers to the week, providing windsurfing and paddle boarding equipment which the youngsters (and the not so young) can try out free of charge.
A special mention must also go to all the people who keep the entire Pyefleet Week family fed and watered. The galley volunteers and those who man the legendary Pyefleet Week lunch table deserve a medal for the many hours they spend slaving over hot stoves to keep the fleet in fighting form. Thanks too to the bar staff who make sure that dehydration is never an issue!
With two more days of racing still to come we can expect some exciting and very tight battles as each of the classes seeks out it’s champion.
by Fiona Brown