Beaver Winter Handicap Saturday 3 December 2005

The second event of the Sprint 15 Winter Series took place at Beaver S.C. on Saturday 3rd December, and was attended by 6 home boats and 5 visitors, from Grafham, Carsington and Halifax. The forecast for the day was generally strong winds and rain, so perhaps this put off a few more potential travellers from trekking up North. Beaver Winter Handicap

In the event, the day was certainly cloudy, but at Beaver, no rain fell, and the wind was around 15 knots for most of the day, although it dropped somewhat during the afternoon.

Race 1 started with a heavily port-biased line, but only Bob Carter was brave enough to try a port start. However, his timing was perfect, and crossed the fleet into clear air, text book fashion, so was the only boat to test the wind on the right-hand side of the first beat.

With everyone else in close combat, it looked as though he was onto a winner, but surprisingly, Steve Hanby, Austin Flather and Paul Smith from Beaver just pipped him to the post (or mark), with Charles Watson from Halifax following in fifth. On the next broad reach, Smith passed Flather, and Carter did the same another leg later, and these three took charge of the race thereafter, whilst behind, Matt Smith (junior) came through to 4th, holding off Watson and Neil Storr to the finish. But the battle wasn't over at the front, as Carter hunted Smith down and got past on the reach, in spite of being luffed hard. One lap remained, and Hanby still seemed to have it in the bag, having sailed largely un-challenged up to this point, but on the last broad reach to the line, he sailed too high protecting his wind from the ever advancing Carter, and ultimately had to gybe to come back to the mark. Carter had sailed a tad deeper all the way down, whilst still reeling Hanby in, and crossed below him to steal the race in the last 5 yards - gripping stuff!

After a break for lunch, race 2 saw a modified course to tighten up the reaches as the breeze moderated, and everyone started safely on starboard, in spite of another port-biased line. Steve Hanby and Paul Smith were the only boats to stay on starboard until reaching the port lay-line, and this looked like paying off, as those behind tacked off one by one up the middle of the course. At the windward mark, Hanby did indeed arrive first, but Smith was not quite so lucky as a pack of starboard tackers came steaming up, causing him to put in a short tack to avoid penalties. The net result was that Hanby inherited an un-troubled and comfortable lead as the next group sorted themselves out, and it was Charles Watson who took second for a while, before being passed by Smith on the 2nd reach to take up the chase once more on Hanby. These three slowly pulled out on the following boats and held station to the finish, but the next group were having a much closer duel. Neil Storr, Austin Flather and Bob Carter were subsequently involved in an 'incident' at the leeward mark, resulting in penalties being taken, which allowed Matt Smith to pass all of them, and he then managed to pull out a safe 4th position to the end, leaving Carter to salvage 5th from Phillip Howden, Flather and Storr. Bob Carter

Thus ended a good day's racing, leaving Steve Hanby the outright winner with a 2nd and a 1st, but everyone went home with a prize in the form of 'liquid refreshment', which was appreciated by all. It was also nice to see John Adamson (now retired Dart 15 sailor), who came over to watch proceedings and chat to old friends. It's always a pleasure to see his ever cheerful face and listen to some of his many yarns.

Thanks also went to Peter Hone, resident R.O.D. who did a splendid job as usual in running the two races, and the 'Beaver Beauties' who fed and watered the troops throughout the day.

The fleet now take a break over Christmas until the 14th January 2006, when Draycote will again host the 3rd event of the series.

Paul Smith ( 1961 )

For the full results, click here.