ANDY Prior and Shaun Agar bested eight other boats in a mixed handicap fleet to take the spoils at this year’s Tulip Regatta at Welland Yacht Club.
Low water level and light breezes made for a crowded start line at the three-race event, but Neal Tack and Simon Hastings both made good starts and rounded the first buoy neck and neck with the rest of the fleet hard on their tails. Prior and Agar clawed their way to the front in the N12 and, once in clean air, began to extend their lead.
Close behind, the husband and wife team of Richard and Jane Thacker traded places with Tom Bell, Martin Cook and Andy Agar, while father and son, Paul and Adam Wilson, were involved in a family duel and a quarrel with a disobedient spinnaker.
The first race ended with less than two minutes separating the first four boats – while the remaining five were jostling right to the finish line. On handicap, the order was Prior from Hastings and Cook, with Bell in fourth by only four seconds.
Race two began with even less wind, as the boats struggled to make progress up the river against the massive outward flow. The river level dropped by at least eight inches over the day, too.
Hastings and Prior got away cleanly and led the fleet, with Bell the only helm able to give chase.
The lack of wind proved too much of a handicap for the heavier boats – despite their use of bullying tactics on the start line – and challenging for position was seriously hampered. Gentle use of tiller and mainsheet and good tacking technique were required to coax any speed out of the boats and at the end of this race, the top four was identical to race one.
There was more wind in the finale, allowing Bell (Laser) to apply some pressure on Prior and Agar. Hastings, Cook and Tack enjoyed some close racing too, as they were desperately trying to close the gap.
A rapidly improving Paul Wilson and Andy Agar were also engaged in their own scrap, with Agar just managing to pull away on the final lap. Again, Prior was home first, with Bell jumping up to second and Hastings third.
• Final standings: 1st A Prior/S Agar; 2nd S Hastings; 3rd M Cook; 4th T Bell; 5th N Tack; 6th A Agar; 7th A Wilson; 8th P Wilson; 9th R Thacker/J Thacker.
• Welland Yacht Club host the second Sail for Gold event of the season on Sunday, May 20. Their annual open day runs from 11.30am-3.30pm at the site on River Bank, off Cradge Bank. For more details visit www.wellandyachtclub.co.uk – everyone is welcome.