Trent Valley Open 2005


Once again the TVSC fleet was missing the entire Dalby family and so had to rely on a temporary recruit from the N12 fleet to swell numbers. Similarly, the Midland Circuit visitor numbers were well down on last year, but the overall fleet was swelled to 13 by two visitors from Bolton and one (ex-TVSC) visitor from Emsworth. The forecast was for Force 3 to 4 from SW to WSW; ideal Trent Valley conditions giving a good beat up the river.

The Race Officer set the start line just upstream of the club, to give a true beating start – the wind direction giving a rare opportunity to be able to do this within spectating distance of the club house. The slightly longer start line and lower number of boats allowed the fleet to sail from a single start, rather than the usual split into flights. This made for tight but exciting, and generally well behaved starts, with plenty of calling for "starboard" and "water" until the fleet spread out.

The first race saw Matt Biggs and Dave Crockett in Nearly All Over making a brave and successful start on port tack, to clear the rest of the fleet and establish a commanding lead. Steve and Gill Leney in Carbonator were in hot pursuit with Tony Larder and Rob Sloane in Tam Thab hanging on in third place. The first mark saw no real change at the front but Julian and Sam Harms in Smoked Salmon just managed to sneak in front of Larder and Sloane before incurring a 720 penalty. This allowed the first three to escape from the pack and some close racing ensued, with the Leneys creeping into the lead on the final run, ahead of Biggs and Crockett.

The Harms had a superb start in the second race, to lead the fleet up the beat. Biggs and Crockett weren’t far behind and Larder and Sloane had slotted into third again. Meanwhile the Leneys set themselves a bigger challenge with a mid-fleet start. By the first mark, Biggs and Crockett had overtaken the Harms and Larder and Sloane had found a large hole, to allow the Leneys through into third place. Whilst the wind started to fade a little and swing more to the West (not so good), the Leneys had definitely found some speed and passed the Harms, but Biggs and Crockett managed to maintain their lead to take the second race.

With such close racing, first/ second, third/ fourth and fifth/ sixth were all going to be decided by the final race, but most people’s thoughts were on something different, the excellent Trent Valley roast lunch! There appeared to be a certain amount of encouragement of "just one more roast potato" in the hope of slowing down the opposition, and the Bolton sailors demonstrated their food-loving kinship with Trent Valley.

By the time of the third race, the wind was fluctuating nicely, forcing the race officer to keep adjusting the line all the way up to the five-minute gun. The wind subsequently swung some more, giving a distinct port bias. The Harms made another cracking start, closely followed by Biggs and Crockett and then Larder and Sloane. Biggs and Crockett soon overhauled the Harms and once again the Leneys decided to make life more difficult for themselves by not having a front rank start, but quickly made use of their excellent boat speed to work their way up to second. The wind decided to fade some more, becoming more inconsistent as it did so and so making the sailing more ‘interesting’.

None the less, it was a close fought race between each of the leading and second pairs of boats, and in the end the Leneys escaped to win the race by a clear distance and take the meeting from Biggs and Crocket. The Harms came from some distance behind to overtake Larder and Sloane within site of the club house and then maintained that position to take third in the race and the meeting.

Brian Cobb and Ros Nichols, sailing Blow Job 2, had slowly improved their positions throughout the day, making the best use of various bits of borrowed rigging to replace those that they had left at home, to take sixth in the final race and the old boats’ prize.

Report: Rob Sloane
Full results