YACHTING: Welland’s staying power rewarded

Seal of approval: Front (from left) - Mayor's consort Counc Ray Dobbs, Andy Prior, Jane Thacker, Counc Paula Thacker; Back - Sarah Prior, Neal Tack, Martin Cook, Adam Wilson, Tom Bell and Richard Thacker. Photo by NIKKI GRIFFIN
Seal of approval: Front (from left) - Mayor's consort Counc Ray Dobbs, Andy Prior, Jane Thacker, Counc Paula Thacker; Back - Sarah Prior, Neal Tack, Martin Cook, Adam Wilson, Tom Bell and Richard Thacker. Photo by NIKKI GRIFFIN

WELLAND Yacht Club emerged victorious from the annual RNLI 24 hour race at Ferry Meadows in Peterborough.

The Spalding club entered two teams in the Lakeside Sailing Club event, with members sailing the Welland Topper Magno and Andy Pack’s on-loan Laser.

Completing over 120 laps and an incredible 90 miles the Laser was first, with the Magno coming a respectable fourth.

The Mayor of Peterborough, Coun Paula Thacker MBE, presented Welland with their title on Sunday.

The race began at 3pm, with the competitors greeted with sunshine, clouds and a strong and steady breeze. Welland’s teams consisted of four sailors for the Laser and eight for the Magno, with the boats sailed in shifts of two hours each.

For the two Welland teams, Adam Wilson and Charlotte Prior began the race in the Magno and Andy Prior in the Laser. The Magno had an excellent start beating all boats on the water to the first mark of the course, while the Laser was only a few yards behind.

About an hour into the race the Magno was struck by a very large gust whilst flying its spinnaker and was sent for a very early bath, but the team recovered quickly and progress was only impeded slightly.

The breeze remained strong few the next few hours keeping all the sailors thoroughly entertained.

Martin Cook and Neal Tack did an excellent job of sailing the Magno efficiently and keeping up with all the competition during their respective shifts at five and seven.

During this time both Welland boats continued to go well, but extreme gusts caused multiple capsizes for the Magno.

As the race progressed deep into the night the gusts died down and the wind eased slightly.

At this point the Sailability team had stopped for the darkest few hours, mainly because they struggle to gain any momentum in their challenger trimarans in light winds.

The pedalo team of the Lakeside Café had also stopped for the hours of darkness, on safety grounds due to their limited manoeuvrability.

By the 7am shift change it was becoming evident that the day was going to provide some very exciting sailing, with the Laser in a battle for the lead with the Green Wayfarer 7328 of Lakeside.

All sailors continued to perform extremely well, but fatigue was starting to take effect, with the lack of sleep and tiring conditions now taking their toll.

The decision was taken to adopt hourly shift changes in the Laser to keep the boat sailing as fast as possible, with the team realising they were in with a shout of glory.

Robin Wilson, who had sailed better than anybody else all weekend, was placed in the boat for the final hour and 15 minutes of the race they won superbly, with Tom Bell and Steven O’Prey manning the Magno for its last two hour stint.

Adam Wilson, Welland’s Vice Commodore said: “Welland Yacht Club would like to thank all those at Lakeside sailing that made the race possible, particularly Andy Belson who had no sleep at all to ensure the race ran smoothly.

“We would also like to thank all those who attended to support the club and helped off the water, we believe at one point we had over 25 club members and non-members enjoying the weekends activities.”