|Blackpool & Fleetwood Yacht Club|
Popular Win for the British Soling Association Chairman at the 2006 UK Northwestern Championships
There is nowhere quite like Blackpool and Fleetwood Yacht Club. It is home to the largest, fastest, most competitive fleet of Solings in the UK. It runs an amazingly cheap regatta which includes excellent catering. And yet when Solings turned up for the UK Northwestern Championships on April 15th-18th there was no water – just a trickle of river, a few inches deep, running across banks of mud.
Of course, BFYC race on the River Wyre in Lancashire. This tidal river floods at every high tide. The current is strong. The time is short – usually there are only two hours in which to race. There is not much space between the river banks. All of this means that the racing is very interesting. Courses are short – beats of 0.3 miles are common – and this means that mark-rounding and spinnaker handling just have to be very, very good. There is no time to settle down for a long run between marks. The tide is crucial, so you have to think about the current as well as the other boats. And then you’ve got to make the boat go fast as soon as you get afloat – there is not much time to tune up. You’ve got to be good.
There were four races on the first day. Hamish Loudon, the BSA Treasurer, won the first one. Then his forestay stopped holding his mast up, so he stopped racing. BSA Chairman Derek Priestley won the second race. Meanwhile Peter Hewitson came second in both…so from the start the racing was competitive. In the third race Hamish Loudon sailed forth, with his mast back up, but promptly ran hard aground on the mud bank on a falling tide. By the time he had got off the race was over – won by Peter Hewitson. As the wind and water fell, the fourth race was sailed in decreasing wind and increasing current. David Fish and his veteran Soling won this last race.
The second day brought Force 3 and sunshine and the racing was close. BFYC Commodore Peter Mountain won the first race; Peter Hewitson won the next two; and Mark Fisher, visiting from the Welsh fleet at Barry Yacht Club won the last race of the day. Peter Hewitson looked to be in a strong position.
The third day saw stronger winds. Derek Priestley dominated, winning all four races on his home patch of water. In fact, Blackpool boats came top, with Derek Priestley 1st, Peter Hewitson 2nd and Tom Williams 3rd. The best visitor was Hamish Loudon from Lochaber Yacht Club in Scotland.
Blackpool and Fleetwood Yacht Club is one hundred years old this year and going from strength to strength. The results of the Northwestern Championships prove that the BFYC Solings are the most competitive, most committed Soling sailors in the UK at the moment.
The next events in the UK Soling Series are the Scottish Championships at Ardrossan on June 3rd-4th; the Welsh Championships at Barry on June 17th -18th; and then the Nationals at the Royal Forth Yacht Club, Edinburgh on July 21st-23rd. See you all there…