Hollingworth Open 2005
Felucca and Silver Tiller Open
Hollingworth Lake’s Merlin Rocket Open Meeting for the Felucca Trophy has always attracted attention from leading Class sailors as it is a late event in the Holt sponsored Silver Tiller Series. This year, it proved to be a local family affair despite the 27-boat entry list. In a closely fought contest, the races were either won by past National Champion Richard Whitworth, crewed by Elena Bremer, or his nephew Stuart Bithell, crewed by Rachel Williamson.|
Saturday’s three races were sailed in breezy conditions, with occasional strong planing gusts. However, most found the shifts ‘challenging’. After a general recall, the Black Flag was flown and Whitworth was ready for a starboard start at the favoured end, but Bithell, on port, passed behind and was away into the lead. These two raced away. On the second lap, David Winder and Jilly Blake also gained on a shift, passing Whitworth. As the battle continued Whitworth passed both to take the first win, with Winder second and Bithell third.
Race two saw William Warren and T Bowen Perkins lead at the first mark and get away on a run back through the beating boats. They steadily increased their lead, with Whitworth and Bithell in pursuit. On the second lap, an error of judgement saw Warren almost capsize and his lead was lost. In a subsequent broad reach, Whitworth was luffing Bithell and this allowed Duncan Salmon and Ian Garwood, sailing low, to take the lead briefly. Whitworth held the lead to the finish with Bithell second.
It was veteran Guy Winder’s turn to take the lead in race three, again pursued by Whitworth and Bithell. Unhappily for Guy, and crew Steve Mannion, a hasty gybe after the third mark resulted in a capsize. Whitworth and Bithell took advantage with the lighter weight Bithell revelling in the planing conditions taking the lead, which he steadily increased to take a clear winning gun ahead of Whitworth, with Andy Davies and Christina King coming in third.
After the usual Felucca dinner, there were heads to be cleared on Sunday morning, but the wind was not keen to play. Bithell and Whitworth elected to start at the port end which seemed to lead to an area of wind shadow. Nick Heginbotham and Matt Calvert chose the other end and found a strong starboard lift which looked to take them to the first mark, but Bithell got there too, with Whitworth close behind. Soon it became the usual story with Bithell and Whitworth ahead in the now frustrating light conditions. A little extra puff downwind and Whitworth gained a lead over Bithell. Suffice it to say that these two lapped several competitors before the finish!
With the fourth race result, Whitworth had won the meeting. A windshift before the start of race five meant a fetch for most to the first mark and Andy Davies cruised in to windward of Bithell and quickly secured a good lead. Davies could not hold off the determined Bithell who, having passed into the lead, finished in a dying wind a leg ahead to claim a close second overall. Whitworth had to be content with a fifth place, behind Julian Parry and Pippa Taylor in third and a fourth for David Winder gave him third overall. While the home fleet had the advantage of local knowledge in difficult shift patterns, fourth and ninth places overall were separated by just 6 points.
Report: Graham Knox
Photos: Pat Blake
See also: - full results