GP 14 Southern Travellers Series Venetian Trophy
Welsh harp sailing Club. 26th- June 2021
Report: Steve Cooper Photos: Luke Howard
Two travelling boats from Frensham Pond SC joined the fleet of 15 from WHSC. At 10.am the gentle breeze was all of the six plus mph forecast by the BBC and Race officer Brian Jeffries decided to run 4 races as scheduled.
Wind was blowing along the lake from the East allowing a balanced start line and a long beat towards Brent Cross. Jamie Isles and Michal Szady arrived first at the windward mark, they negotiated the short close reach to the gybe, then set off back along the lake towards Wembley stadium under three sails. Steve Cooper and Lucy Barrie stalked them on the shifts in pressure from behind and managed to take the lead before the windward mark. A decent lead was established on the beat with Isles and Szady staying ahead of David Innes and John Mcguinness. The fleet compressed on the down-wind leg but the leaders maintained a healthy lead until the finish.
In race two the wind had veered slightly putting a little committee boat end bias to the start line. Cooper and Barrie emerged from a competitive beat to lead, staying in front downwind and up the next beat. Negotiating the shifts downwind was challenging as unreliable pressure undermined confidence when considering a gybe, so sitting by the lea for a few boat lengths was often the preferred option.
A frustrating approach to the leeward mark. Chaos theory notes the unpredictability of events, the flutter of a butterflies wings can change everything. As the gentle breeze caressed the fleet down the run Cooper and Barrie sat in a patch of dead calm, close enough to see the patterns of sea-gull guano on the leeward mark. Time to reflect on their inability to influence matters, hoping that somewhere a butterfly must be stirring. Innes and Mcguiness had been quick down the run and capitalised on their persistence, negotiating the melee at the mark as the fleet arrived above and below the beleaguered leaders. They led across the short reach and picked the favoured end of the finish line to take the win.
After Lunch a challenge for the race team as the wind became more unstable. A new line, a tweek of the course with shorter beats across the lake. Cooper and Barrie again started well and were first to get the kite up. Innes and Mcguiness again had good speed downwind and had reduced the lead to a few boat lengths by the leeward mark. An astute early tack by Innes found the best wind on what was now a short beat across the lake, they rounded the next mark in front and continued to extend their lead to win comfortably.
The wind allowed longer beats and runs on the final race, another clean start and a tightly contested beat. The lead changed frequently with Silver fleet winners Sue Tomkins and Yossi Shahar enjoying a spell in front. The pulses in pressure kept the fleet together as leaders downwind were swept up by those behind in better pressure. Cooper and Barrie, Maurice Cleal and Nat Spurling contested the lead on the final downwind leg, but another existential moment saw them swallowed up by the chasing boats on the approach to the leeward mark in the tricky Southwest corner. Five boats were in contention on the short beat to the finish. Rounding the final mark in 5th place Cleal and Spurling tacked early to find themselves some nice wind in the middle, their final tack gave them a good line to the finish, sailing over the cat and mouse game at the pin, the race was won by half a boat length.
Thanks were made to all at WHSC particularly Vivien Kemeny who had prepared excellent food, enjoyed at pub tables outside the clubhouse. Race winner David Innes expressed his appreciation to WHSC for an excellent event.
A special award was presented to ‘visitor’ Andy Wadsworth, in recognition of his and partner Helen Allen’s years of service to WHSC . Now living in Brixham and members of Brixham YC they were valuable members of the sailing club. They both served on the committee, trained and raced with members. Also keen travellers their boats were trailed around the Uk to many open meetings and championships, enhancing the club's reputation on the circuit and within the GP 14 association.