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    A keen bunch of sailors turned up bright and early for the penultimate round of the 2018 Westcountry Boat Repairs RS200 SW Ugly Tour at Starcross YC, on the beatiful Exe estuary. Unfortunately the wind wasn't quite so keen to get up as early as the awaiting fleet, leaving many fingers crossed for some racing. After a brief wait, and the sight of the previous Thornbury and first time SW Ugly tour event winners Fred Mainwairing/Liz Teague drifting up on the tide from Exmouth, with a few zephyrs of breeze in tow, the fleet launched.


    Race one saw the fleet start cleanly, with Owain Hughes/Mari Shepherd leading the pack at the first lap, with the wind swinging around, the fleet had the unusual situation of carrying their kites on every leg of the course at some point throughout the race, with locals Olly Turner/Meg Baker capitalising to take the lead and race win from Hughes/Sheperd with series sponsor and Mr Ugly himself Pete Vincent sailing with Victoria Upton on their tails in third.


    By now it was clear that the wind was in a rather indecisive mood, shifting almost 180degrees by the start of race 2. In a light 3-4kts the fleet worked their way up the first beat, with Kerry Pinker/Charles Richardson playing all the shifts perfectly to take a handsome lead, only to be un-done on the first downwind leg by the tide and lack of wind. With Hughes/Sheperd and Vincent/Upton now in the lead, a rather large patch of wind filling in from the clubhouse had appeared, and with it a 400 at mach 2, spray everywhere, whilst the fleet sat watching their reflections in the water around them. The sight of this fresh and optimistic breeze saw the race canned ready for a re-run in this much improved wind. This wasn't quite going to be that easy for the race team however, with the next 30 minutes wait seeing a wind direction from every point of the compass, who'd want to be a race officer eh??


    Finally a steady (ish) breeze filled in and held, allowing for race 2 to be restarted. John Teague/Anna Horackova took advantage of this now 10kt breeze, to take the race win, with Nick Smith/Hannah Smith holding off a pressing Turner/Baker on the final run to take second and third.


    A third and final race got underway with the fleet in a race against time to beat the rapidly retreating water, and lurking sand banks! The front pack was tightly bunched, with plenty of place changing, and some kissing of sandbanks on the run in places. By the final run the event was wide open, with three boats able to win overall, Turner/Baker moved through into a controlling position shadowed by Teague/Horackova, with Vincent/Upton, Mainwairing/Teague and Andy Brierley/Larissa Connabeer sailing a lower line looking to re-take their previous positions. As the tide and shifts in the final 100 yards to the leeward mark made themselves felt, Vincent/Upton and Teague/Horackova made their moves, both gybing several times on the shifts to free themselves from the pack with Vincent/Upton taking the win, from Teague/Horackova, with an exceptionally close pack behind led by Mainwaring/Teague on the final buoy.


    After a nail biting and highly competitive final race, it all came down to the final 100 yards, with Teague/Horackova from Bristol Corinthian YC taking the overall win. Second place saw Vincent/Upton from Bristol Corinthian YC pipping local boat Turner/Baker from Starcross YC, on countback to round off a very close top 3. Brierly/Connabeer from Royal Torbay YC, sailed a very consistent series given the tricky conditions to win the Silver fleet by a point from Smith/Smith from Thornbury SC. In the Bronze fleet and also first junior helm Izzy Cramp/Stuart Jones from Hooe Point SC took the win after an impressive 8th in the final race, from another consistent boat, locals Grant Boorer/Mark Hollamby from Starcross. Special mention has to be made to the race team led by Russ Gibbs, the wind kept them very busy with plenty of head scratching as the wind shifted throughout the day, and holding their nerve to get a final two races in the best wind of the day.

    Next event, and the grand finale of the 2018 Westcountry Boat repairs SW Ugly tour, sees us travel to the ever popular Chew Valley on October 27th. Final positions will be decided in this years tour, can Alistair Norris/Helen Summersgill be beaten??!

    John Teague


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