GP14 Southern Traveller’s Series 2011

The Southern Travellers series was completed at Frensham Pond SC in the last couple of weeks. This was the 10th event held over the year at 9 very different coastal and inland venues. The racing is always keen but the very friendly and social atmosphere on and off the water certainly makes these events a very enjoyable way to gain experience and make new friendships within the class. There is a high standard of racing at the front of the fleet, series trophies for newcomers and prizes for ‘B’ fleet entrants at some events so if you enjoy class racing and want to develop your skills it is well worth considering joining in next year. Contact for more details.

Overall results

1st     Mark Wolf / Alex Dotsch        BTYC Sailsports
2nd     James Ward / Richard Whitehill        Papercourt SC
3rd     Richard Lord / Lorna Davies        Seahorse SC
4th    Ben Kaplan / Roberto Serra         Seahorse SC
5th     George Rogers  / Jilly Wilkinson         Tollesbury SC

The Frensham event was held in a wildly oscillating wind of up to 20kts and keeping the boat going upwind in these gusts proved quite a challenge and the key to success. There were several capsizes (but not as many as in the Enterprise fleet sharing the lake that day!) and early Race1 leaders Mark Wolf  with crew Roger Walton ( BTYC Sailsports) and James Ward / Steve Browne ( Papercourt/Leigh on Sea) both lost their way( or at least so the race officer said). Mark went on to win the next 2 races and the event. James was not so lucky and capsized in race 2 and  Bryan Taylor ( Frensham ) and Paul Reeves ( Papercourt) took second and third. The wind did not relent so by the end everybody was exhausted and ready for the legendary FPSC tea of more cakes than you have ever seen.

The  series started back in April with the first of two visits  to the Brent reservoir in Wembley; held in very good weather on the Welsh Harp and it produced as is usual the largest fleet of over 30 boats with good attendance from the four ”home“ clubs and visitors from South Staffs , Tollesbury, Papercourt and Frensham . The courses were essentially windward/leeward with a short reach across each end of the reservoir.  BTYC does a lot of adult training hence the large turnout so and gold, silver and bronze fleet prizes. This year visitors from the Midlands took 1st and 3rd with Rob Janering / Charlotte from Wembley taking second and Richard  Lord / Lorna Davies ( Seahorse SC) taking fourth. As always the hospitality was excellent with lunch and tea eaten on the terrace overlooking the water.  A second inland event followed  at Papercourt lake in Surrey where Mark Wolf /Alex Dotsch and  James Goodfellow / Richard Cornes( Milton Keynes)  virtually match raced through all four races with James and Richard eventually prevailing with three bullets to one in the four race meet with Richard Lord taking third

The next event was our annual visit to the Solent but due to high winds that prevented launch of the rescue boats the event was cancelled with a number of keen Southern sailors suited and booted ready to go out and enjoy the challenging conditions. Luckily compensation arrived the next Saturday with a wet and wild event at Leigh on Sea in the Thames estuary. Wind and rain brought some back on shore quite quickly but the races were completed in impressive style and conditions gradually improved.  Mark Wolf won from James Ward with area Rep taking  third place just ahead of local rivals  Colin Walker/Steve Grange and Steve Corbet/Martin Fisher both from Leigh.

The flagship event in July was the Area championship run in sunshine and a gentle breeze at the Brightlingsea SC. This was a superbly run grand prix event over 2 days. With the tide being an important factor in the Colne estuary local knowledge was a factor but it was clear from the outset that the visitors from the midlands were quicker and would dominate the event. After 6 races on triangular courses Ross Kearney / Ed Bradburn repeated their success of last year.  First southern Boat was James and Richard  in 5th  and Ben Kaplan / Chris Lomax ( Seahorse) taking 7th . The ‘Old Gaffers’ race was taking place the same weekend and some of us were distracted by huge Thames barges and the graceful Essex smacks in particular David Innes from Frensham who proved  that luffing Thames barges is not a good idea  The usual excellent  food and bar at BSC along  with their facilities and  great weather made a  brilliant event that was enjoyed by all

Next venue was  the annual weekend  at Poole  which is  one of the best events on the circuit with a team race on Saturday followed by dinner in the yacht club and a round the cans open meeting on Sunday. Light winds prevailed on Saturday, followed by a brisker force 3-4 on Sunday.

The Saturday teams are of 3 boats and the best two results count for the event. With the light breeze local knowledge was essential to avoid the lee of the islands where wiser head realised that there was ‘no wind in there’ Regrettably the wind died half way round the second race and the race was shortened to finish at the far end of Brownsea Island. Seahorse A finished ahead of Poole A, both well ahead of the other 6 teams.

For the day of the Open Meeting, with courses of laid marks in the top triangle just outside the club and a favourable weather forecast gave perfect conditions which certainly didn’t disappoint. Warm and sunny all day with an ESE averaging force 4 with e gusts offering some good planing on the reaches of the well set up Olympic course. A good entry from boats from Poole, BTYC and Seahorse plus Roy Nettleship from Nottingham made up the 22 starters for the first race which got away on time with a clean start. Stung by their defeat in the team racing, the locals ruled supreme with Mike Williams / Mark Taylor and Andy Macgregor / Gary Whitehead taking 1st and 2nd for Poole with Richard Lord taking third for the visitors.

Next venue was our annual open on the River Thames with Hampton hosting an excellent open with  a good breeze resulting in good racing for the fleet with Mark Wolf taking 1st from James Ward / Richard Whitehill  in second and leading Hampton crew Kevin and Maddie Anderson

The penultimate event in September was at Tollesbury SC on the Blackwater estuary in Essex, this was also a windy day completed by a torrential downpour during race 3 that blinded most of us (Lesley Kaye complained her contact lenses even got washed away!). Good spinnaker control in the strong and shifty conditions proved the decisive factor and Mark Wolf  confirmed the 2011 series win by narrowly beating Richard the winner here for the last 3 years. This was a tidal venue and the 3 races have to sailed in the afternoon back to back before a return to Tollesbury for a hot meal and some beer.

There has been a good sprinkling of southern sailors on the Grand Prix circuit . James   Goodfellow and Richard Cornes achieved an excellent 2nd in the Northerns and Andy Wadsworth and Helen Allen from BTYC  travelled widely and proudly won the Grand Prix bronze prize.  Mark Wolf, James Goodfellow and Steve Browne had a great fight in the silver  fleet  at the Nationals  with a 14th,15th and 17th !   Helen joined Roger Walton in the Bronze fleet.

For pictures from the Tollesbury SC Open from September, click on the thumbnails below: