After the finale of the Club Championship a fortnight ago, the last the Solway Yacht Club open event of the year started in pleasant somewhat chilly Autumn weather, despite the threat of gales and storms forecast only a few days earlier. This year the one-day “Lakeland and Borders Laser Grand Prix” was held on Saturday, combined with the National 12 Class GUL Water-sports sponsored two-day, 5 race series over the weekend. Club racing continued in the background, making for a busy first day for the Principal Race Officer, Stewart Mitchell and Assistant Lindsay Tosh.
The Lasers started first and race 1 was immediately dominated by local man Rhys Williams pulling clear to a good win. The National 12s followed with father and son crew of Mark and Toby Simpson leading away in their dazzling multi-coloured high tech craft. After an excellent start, next up were Brian Herring and Ros Stevenson in the leading vintage boat. With the Simpson crew stretching their lead, Ian and Margaret Purkis closed on the Herring/Stevenson boat getting ahead and claiming second in the closing stages, just when it mattered.
Race two and a longer course set for both classes and with Williams failing to finish, it was wide open in the Laser fleet, with Anthony Dawson winning from Steve Roberts. The National 12s had a closer race to the first turning mark with the Simpson boat just getting there in front of the Purkis crew. However, in his enthusiasm young Toby Simpson touched the mark as they rounded, forcing them into penalty turns and in the process, briefly handing the lead to Purkis before retaking it and win. After a poor first race down in fifth, Neil McInnes and Anne Stewart worked their way up to second by the finish.
Race three and with the wind dropping, the final race for the Lasers saw another win for Dawson. The National 12s started with a similar pattern, the Simpsons leaving the others in their wake. In a close race, Purkis initially held second before a second lap wind shift saw the three boats forced close to Rough Island’s rocky lee-shore. Herring was the first to tack off and gain an advantage ahead of McInnes, Purkis slipping to fourth. By the downwind leg of lap 3 all three were abreast, but it was Purkis who found the extra light wind boat speed and reached the wing mark ahead, but only just holding onto second in the tightest of finishes with the highly experienced Herring.
Day 2 for the National 12s and in a near perfect stiff breeze and bright sunshine, the fleet were back out for the deciding races. After a crew swap, it was now husband and wife team of Mark and Emma Simpson who again led off with the McInnes/Stewart boat getting clear of the rest second. This time Purkis found himself embroiled in a two lap tussle with the much improved crew of Angus Beyts and the young Solway Cadet Bruce Copeman, now holding a creditable fourth, but upwind on lap 3 the heavier Purkis crew got clear to claim third.
By the final race the Simpsons couldn’t be beaten for the overall win, but second was still up for grabs. Again the McInnes/Stewart boat got ahead of Purkis third and Beyts/Copeman fourth. At the finish Purkis and McInnes were now equal on points for second overall but when the count-back rule was applied, where the positions were taken into account in the final race, second overall went to McInnes and Stewart. Seemed fair as it was Anne’s birthday and capped a great year for her being one half of the Club Championship winning crew two weeks earlier!
Overall Top 5 Results:
Lakeland and Borders Laser Grand Prix:
1stAnthony Dawson (Ullswater Yacht Club)
2nd Stephen Roberts (South Windermere Sailing Club)
3rdSimon Wilson (Keilder Water Sailing Club)
4thJoseph Blease (Bassenthwaite Sailing Club)
5thRhys Williams (Solway yacht Club)
GUL National 12 Series Round 7 Solway Yacht Club
1stMark Simpson and Toby/Emma Simpson (Scaling Dam Sailing Club)
2ndNeil McInnes and Anne Stewart (Yeadon Sailing Club/Solway Yacht Club)
3rdIan Purkis and Margaret Purkis (Solway Yacht Club)
4thBrian Herring and Ros Stevenson (Winsford Flash Sailing Club)
5thAngus Beyts and Bruce Copeman (Newburgh Sailing Club/Solway Yacht Club)