Redditch Open 2008

Arrow Valley Lake in Redditch has something of a reputation for confusing wind shifts caused no doubt by the trees that have grown up around the lake over the years since the original landscaping took place and sailing first started on the lake.

On Saturday 25th October 2008 ten visiting Merlin Rockets from the Midland sailing clubs of Blithfield, Trent Valley, Midland, Earlswood and Banbury joined the three home boats to contest the first Merlin Rocket open meet in six years to be held at Redditch.

The wind was a blustery force 4 with some hefty gusts being twisted in all directions by the islands and trees the resulting capsizes to windward and leeward providing a feast of amusement for the spectators and those competitors who were not currently swimming.

The variation in wind strength from a full sitting out breeze at one moment to helms falling in to leeward the next resulted in something of a shake up in the usual order of midland circuit positions.

The first of three races got under way with thirteen boats coming to the start line, it soon became apparent that the contingent from Midland Sailing club were on form with the club placing all three of their boats in the top four, the first race was won by Gill & Steve Leney, in spite of Steve falling into the lake on an unexpected wind shift. Paul Hollis who won the last Redditch open in 2002 finished second Steve Watson third with Mike Ainslow completing the top four spots. Five boats retired mostly through swimming with one gear failure to a local boat.

The second race followed with nine boats coming to the start with the midland trio again showing strong this time joined by the Redditch pair of Dawes and Eaves taking third, Watson was second, Hollis first with Ainslow taking his second fourth place.

Spare a thought for the Earlswood pair who after being well placed in both races retired after a bracing swim in each race.

Lunch was next up after which in increasing winds six boats braved the start line comprising a trio each from Midland sailing club and the host club, James Dawes had an outside chance of taking victory for the home club if he could get ahead of the Midland pair of Watson and Hollis.

A retirement after trawling a spinnaker and a capsize for the home boats left Dawes to contest the third race with the Midlanders who turned it into a personal battle with line honours and the event going to Steve Watson & Ben Hollis with dad Paul & crew Richard Elliot taking second overall, consistency gave Mike Ainslow & Phil Harrison third overall.

Prizes and cake rounded off and enjoyable day and concluded the 2008 Midland Circuit.

Report: Martin Smith

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