August Bank Holiday Monday at Bewl Water
A Bank Holiday wouldn't be a Bank Holiday
without a trip to Bewl for some serious open water sailing.
You'd think I'd had my fill at Ullswater but, well; you just
can't get enough of a good thing and besides it's one of the
rare chances I get to use Over Easy's big red spinnaker!
This year the Bewl Autumn Regatta on 29 August
consisted of 2 pursuit races. Pursuit racing is based on boat
handicap to determine start times. In theory if the handicap
system works well all the competing boats should arrive at
the finish line about the same time. The initial race
instructions stated that each race lasted approximately 120
minutes for say an Optimist and about 80 minutes for a
In reality the race officer started the Oppies,
Toppers and Mirrors at +26 minutes (actually zero) and
everybody started as per their handicap after that. SigneTs
went at +28 minutes (i.e. zero +2). The last boats to leave,
almost half an hour after us were the Flying Fifteens and the
big RS Asymetrics. In between everything from Solos and
Lasers to RS200s and Enterprises.
There were 30 entrants but if you include as
many again just cruising plus all the fishermen's boats, I'd
never actually seen so many boats on the water at the same
time. Very strange!
The briefing was at 10:00 sharp which gave the
first Optimist start at about 10:30. Bewl Water SC charged a
visitors entry fee of £6 for 2 handed boats and
£3 for single handed boats, which is amazing given the
club facilities, race organization, the water and prizes.
One thing that was very noticeable was how low
the water was. It had to be down 20 feet. That might not
sound a lot but at Bewl that must represent millions of
litres of water (Bewl normally holds 31,300 million litres).
The usual ramp couldn't be used as it no longer reached the
water. We launched off ‘the beach'.
AQSC members at Bewl included Richard Cannon
and Liz Archer in ST368, Keith Hatton and I in ST369, Nigel
Knowles in his Laser 35434 and Bryan Clements in the club
Topper 20980. There was also our honorary member for the Day
Bill Poulton in Enterprise 19536
Race 1 duly got started around 10:30 with one
Oppie and one Mirror crossing the line. Two minutes later
ST369 crossed the line and overhauled the other boats shortly
after rounding the first mark. The wind was out of the West
blowing at approximately force 2. The six mark course used
the whole centre section of the water plus one of the three
south facing legs, going round twice for one lap.
ST369 held 1st place for about a lap and a half
before being overhauled by a Solo. Leading is great from a
'clear air' point of view but its murder trying to find the
marks first time around. At Bewl the marks are so widely
spaced that you can often sail half a leg, or more, before
even spotting the mark that you should be heading for. At the
end of Race 1 ST369 was 15th, Laser 35434 was 19th, ST368 was
21st after starting 10 minutes late, and Topper 20980 was
Race 2 was more interesting. For a start
everybody was on the line at their appointed time. ST368 and
ST369 overhauled the lead boats well before the first mark
and held 1st and 2nd places for over two laps. Inevitably in
lightening winds the faster boats began to catch the SigneTs
on lap three. Now, the Bewl rules of pursuit racing say that
a sound signal will be given at one minute before the finish
and that a double sound signal will be given at the finish
… at which point ALL boats must hold station, one to
another, as they come up to and cross the line which is
moving towards the boats.
Try telling that to Bewl Lasers. By the time
ST369 crossed the line one Solo and four or five Lasers had
overtaken us. The Race Officer's reaction in the committee
boat was 'protest them'. So much for rules! The results were
published by the time we came ashore and no one was in the
mood to change them. ST368 recorded a 5th (boats obeyed the
rules). ST369 a 16th (which should actually have been about
11th) with Laser 35434 17th and Topper 20980 21st.
Both races were won by a Flying Fifteen with
RS200s, 400s, Blaze and Lasers highly placed. Considering the
opposition I didn't think we did too badly and the sailing
was superb. Plenty of spinnaker work and, at times, some
close racing. If you've never been to Bewl Water you should
definitely pencil it in for one of the 2006 Bank Holidays.
It's a whole different kind of sailing on big water and
pretty addictive, as anyone who's been there will tell