Bartley RS400 Open
Bartley RS400 Open 9th September - report by Sam Knight
Four visitors journeyed to Bartley sailing club in south Birmingham, joining another four home boats for the 6th round of the rooster southern tour. The fleet was greeted with a rip-roaring 20+ knot breeze blowing straight down the lake, promising an epic day of racing. RO Andy Bownes was tasked with a tight five race schedule and promptly had the fleet away for the first race of the day just after 11:30.
With gusts and shifts seemingly firing at random down the length of the lake it was the local boats taking up the early running, with Sam and John Knight taking the early lead, closely pursued by visitors Sean Cleary and Annalise Nixon. Demonstrating a disappointing lack of post-holiday rustiness (Having landed less than 24 hours earlier) Sean and Annalise stayed within striking distance, finally taking the lead on the final beat and taking the first bullet of the day. Behind the first two an almighty battle of the siblings saw Adam Whitehoue & Chris Bownes get first race bragging points over Adam’s sister Caroline Downing and Tony Cliff.
With a building breeze it was Nick Eaves and Joe Ironside taking a flyer in race 2, splitting from the fleet soon after the start and reaching the windward mark in the lead. They were soon pegged back by Sam & John and Adam & Chris, who were able to find the best of the breeze downwind. With the wind now peaking in the high 20’s, a few of the more experienced crews were introduced to the notoriously chilly Bartley water, especially sobering for Sean and Annalise after their week diving into lukewarm seas off yachts in the Mediterranean. At the finish the Knights were able to maintain their lead, followed by Adam & Chris and Nick & Joe.
A brief lunch break allowed the crews to speculate on the surprising steadiness of the breeze (for Bartley) and discuss the merits of wearing drysuits, even in the early autumn, before heading out for the afternoon races. There hadn’t been much change in the conditions over the break and the Knights were able to continue their form from the morning races, leading round every mark to take their second bullet of the day. Caroline and Tony were similarly untroubled as they took an easy second, with the real race taking place behind them for third. Adam & Chris were solid for the first two laps, but eventually fell to fourth behind Sean and Annalise, with Stuart Halman and Anna Walsh in close attendance.
The fourth race saw a few of the fleet a little too eager to get going. Three boats returned to have another go at the start, with series leaders Sam & John leaving themselves a bit to do if they wanted a picket fence final score. A lap late, they gave themselves an even bigger challenge by stopping mid- gybe to wash some of the Weymouth salt off their sails, kindly joined by Nick & Joe (“we were following you!”). This was all immaterial as Caroline and Tony sailed off to take the race by the biggest margin of the day, another good result could see them challenge for the overall lead if they could force another bad race from Sam & John. A tight tussle for second saw Adam and Chris just pipping Howard Eeles and Sean Ricketts to the finish
It was a very close first leg from the last start, with the whole fleet within a few boat lengths of each other at the windward mark. Howard and Sean continued to show they had plenty of speed, leading the fleet through the first few laps until they found a bad shift just on their approach to the windward mark. This allowed Sam and John to take the lead, which they never relinquished giving them the overall win. Behind them, Sean & Annalise and Caroline & Tony were inseparable through the last lap with the former just taking second place on the final gybe into the finish.
Back on shore Sam thanked Andy Bownes and his crew for his excellent race management throughout the day, and thanked the visitors for travelling to support the event. Bartley look forward to hosting the 400’s again next year and we look forward to the final Southern tour event at Oxford in October; It looks like an event not to be missed – 12 single lap races planned!
Sam & John 5 pts
Caroline & Tony 10 pts
Sean & Annalise 13 pts
Adam & Chris 14 pts
Stuart & Anna 17 pts
Howard & Sean 18 pts
Nick & Joe 21 pts
John & Mark 32 pts