The Easter Tray – Good Friday through to Easter Sunday -was perhaps the perfect start to the season. The bank holiday weekend brought fabulous sunshine, with the breeze building slightly each day to ease the 14ers into the first regatta of the season, starting with 10-12 knots on Friday, building up to 15-20 on Sunday.
This year has seen renewed vigour in the class, with a number of new teams and some returning older ones leading to a very solid turnout, that included three new boats. It’s always fascinating to see the new ideas that have been incorporated into these machines; Dinghy Designer Genius Dan Holman launched his new weapon self built to his own Cuckoo’s Nest design. It can only be described as a work of art, showcasing some awesome detailed finishing and some great lateral thought: how about activating the gybing board using the rudder hydrofoil control?
Also taking to the water was four times world champion Archie Massey’s new ship (also of the Cuckoo’s Nest design) with striking dragon skin paint job, featuring fore and aft control on the rudder gantry. Finally was Douglas Pattison and Mark Tait’s new boat Marilyn, a somewhat more conventional Beiker 5 meticulously built by Richard Woof, taking a more simplistic route with pinned rigging and a conventional setup.
So what about the racing?
Pattison and Tait ought to have owned the day outright, however a course error threw away a substantial lead in race one, an invitation that PoW champions Katie Nurton and Nigel Ash wouldn’t pass up on. A win in Race two saw Pattison and Tait joint leaders with Neale Jones and Ed Fitzgerald who’d posted a consistent 2, 2 vs. Pattison and Tait’s 3,1.
A little bit windier and a little bit worse for wear following the annual Easter cocktail party. Race three launched the fleet round East Head into some large shifts, and foul tide. Some smart tactics with a helpful tidal lee-bow saw Charles Duchesne and Adam Ovington post a popular lead at the windward mark, However a fast hoist from Pattison and Tait propelled them into a lead that they held to the finish ahead of a fast finishing Jone and Fitzgerald. Race four again saw the tables turned with Jones and Fitzgerald sailing fast and clean to develop a substantial lead, leaving the leading pair tied overnight on points.
The sun was still out, and it was a little bit windier again, Jones and Fitzgerald now started to challenge the fleet. They revelled in the conditions of the day to post two wins and take the regatta in convincing style, Pattison and Taut posting a second and third, trailing by two points in second. Julian Pearson and John Hunter-Hamilton sailing super consistently to take third, with Andy Shaw and Rob Struckett posting a fourth and second on Sunday to pull themselves up the rankings into fourth.