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SAILING: Welland Yacht Club's Lowland Trophy

Sunday's regatta at the Welland Yacht Club was the Lowland Trophy which adds an extra dimension to the normal sailing, with competitors having to demonstrate some extra sailing skills along the way.

In addition, personal handicaps are applied to balance up the field.

Race one started with 11 boats on the water but rather than a conventional start, boats had to cross the start line going backwards, which is not an easy thing to do in a sailing dinghy.

The Lasers of Tom Bell and Gail Follington both made excellent starts, followed closely by Paul Burton in a Solo.

Bell made the best of this and gradually built on it to cross the line some four minutes clear of Follington and Burton and then Alan Cox also in a Laser and then the pairing of Neal Tack and Rebecca Slater in their Graduate.

Bell's lead was long enough to allow him to keep first spot even with personal handicaps applied.

As the wind had dropped slightly, a shorter course was set for race two but the sailors had to pick up an obstacle from the water to further test their skills.

This time Burton made the most of a good start and although Bell did mange to pass him, the lead was not sufficient to allow for the personal handicap and Burton took the win from Bell with Alan Cox taking third from Tack and Slator.

Martin Cook in a Solo came in fifth, with Katie Follington (Topper) beating her mum into sixth. Paul Wilson was eighth with Will Cook ninth.

With one win a piece, race three was going to be the decider and instead of the normal start, Andy Prior, the officer of the day, opted for a 'Le Mans' type start with competitors out of their boats and on the bank when the starting gun went.

As boats were lined up in reverse this meant both Burton and Bell started at the back of the fleet. Despite this, Burton still managed to make a good start but Bell struggled to get his boat untied for some reason and started in last place.

Will Cook and Emma Hill in their Scorpion made a great start and were clear of the field for much of the race. Unfortunately Gail Follington’s tiller extension broke during the start, forcing her to retire.

In addition to the unusual start, a chicane had also been added which competitors had to negotiate four times throughout the race. As the race progressed, Bell managed to claw his way through the field and crossed the line in first place with Cox taking second from Will Cook, with Burton coming in fourth. But these results changed significantly once handicaps were applied, leaving Cox first, Bell second and Burton third with less than a minute separating them.

Overall this gave Bell the trophy by the slim margin of two points ahead of Burton, with Cox taking third.

Full results were: 1st Bell Laser; 2nd Burton Solo; 3rd Cox Laser; 4th Tack and Slator Graduate; 5th Martin Cook Solo.


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