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Welland Yacht Club stage the Novice Regatta

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Welland Yacht Club staged the Novice Regatta on Sunday, which is only open to helms who have not won an event or points series for the proceeding three years.

The wind was once again a no-show on Sunday, so a short course only up to buoy two was in place.

For the first race, five boats took to the water - and it was unknown if some would arrive at the start line in time as boats were becalmed and unable to get under way.

Overall second place went to junior Reggie Sauntson with guidance from his crew Gail Follington.
Overall second place went to junior Reggie Sauntson with guidance from his crew Gail Follington.

When the slight breeze did fill in, it was the largest boat in the fleet - the Phantom of Gerri Van Haren - who found some breeze and sailed away from Richard Stedman in the borrowed Comet.

He was followed by GP14 of Nick Bonsor and crewed by Helen Boyd, RS Feva helmed by junior Reggie Saunston and crewed by Gail Follington, with Sandor Kecskemeti in the Laser following.

The safety boat was called on as boats got into trouble, with a combination of no wind and weed making it very difficult to steer correctly.

At buoy two, it was Van Haren who had managed to stay ahead of Stedman, however, the Phantom managed to pick up some weed on the rudder which allowed Stedman with the breeze to gain some ground.

Before rounding number one buoy, the shortened course flag was hoisted much to the helms relief - and it was the Phantom finishing first across the line, followed by the Comet of Stedman, GP14 Bonsor and Boyd, Laser Kecskemeti and Reggie Short and Gail in the Feva.

After the handicaps were applied, it was Stedman who finished three minutes ahead of Van Haren - with Bonsor and Boyd in third.

Welland Yacht Club (57980003)
Welland Yacht Club (57980003)

Race two started with no improvement and, if anything, the heat was starting to make conditions more of a challenge.

There was so little wind that the GP and Laser could not get to the correct side of the start line in time .

With Van Haren calling it a day, there were only four boats willing to give this race a go.

Stedman and Reggie Saunston were away in what turned out to be a short time.

Saunston was momentarily in the lead but Stedman found some wind and, as it spun around, managed to sail through to lead.

As they reached buoy two, Stedman turned first followed by the Laser of Kecskemeti and, with what little breeze there was coming across the banks, it was a reach to the finish.

Welland Yacht Club (57980013)
Welland Yacht Club (57980013)

With the clubhouse causing a shadow, this made the rounding of buoy one tricky - but Stedman finished first across the line, followed by Kecskemeti and then a tussle between Bonsor and Saunston to see who would cross the line in third.

It was Bonsor who managed to do this ahead of Saunston.

Handicaps were applied with Stedman first, Kecskemeti second with junior Saunston in third.

Only three boats braved the drift for the last race with the one-lap course expected, and the GP of Bonsor made the better start followed by Stedman and Saunston.

However, at turning buoy, it was again Stedman who turned first, followed by Bonsor then Saunston.

These positions were held to the finish and, after the corrected time applied, it was again Stedman first with Reggie Saunston second and Bonsor in third.

Special mention must go to junior Saunston, who managed to sail the boat in very trying conditions and finish all three races.

Welland Yacht Club (57980014)
Welland Yacht Club (57980014)

Two members of Welland Yacht Club took part in the Graduate class nationals at Grafham Water over the weekend.

Clive Herd - who has been a member off and on for more than 40 years and a big believer in the training of new sailors as crew by using double handers such as the Graduate - competed with Natalia Safianowicz.

Natalia joined the club last year following their open day and has completed with Clive in numerous club races this season.

Clive has competed in Graduates for most of his sailing life as well as several other classes, including single handers and he started competing as crew for his father and later was helm with his son as crew.

Last weekend’s competition saw his ambition to compete again at national level fulfilled and brought back happy memories of his first national event at Eastbourne in 1974 where, with his father as helm, they finished eighth out of 30.

Although there were only 13 entries at Grafham, going from the names on the list getting into the top 10 was going to be a tall order.

With four races scheduled for Saturday and two on the Sunday (one was subsequently cancelled due to lack of wind) they ended up 11th overall.

Clive stated that on the Saturday in some of the races they kept up with the forerunners and were in fifth place during the windier parts of the course but lost out on the lighter wind section due to all up crew weight.

Natalia said it was a complete eye-opener to how close the boats were to each other and the speed of the tacks took some getting used to but wouldn’t have missed it for the world. They both hope to compete in other national events in the future.

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