Sponsored by Hartley Boats and Craftinsure.
Report by Stewart Murdoch
No one at Brixham Yacht Club and no one in the Kestrel class could recall a four boats finishing a seven race championship on equal points. At the finish of the last race even the competitors were uncertain about the final placings as they made there way slowly back from the middle of Tor Bay into Brixham harbour. It took a count back of the number of firsts and the number of second places to sort out the first four places.
Day one, was the strongest wind of the four day event, topping out with gusts of 15knts. Both races on day one were won by Mark Hartley crewed by Richard. Malcolm and Danielle Worsley were equally consistent taking two second places. The northerly delivered for some big shifts and holes which provided a foretaste of what racing in the bay was going to be like. Race Officer Sean postponed the first start and relaid the start line to ensure the fleet got a clean and fair line, his team were quick to move marks and to keep the event well under control in what were difficult conditions. Although the first days results made it look as if the Hartleys might walk away with the event after a seven year absence, on the water they had to fight hard to keep ahead of the Worlseys and only a spot of trawling at the last mark allowed the Hartleys to pop through to win the very close fought second race.
The fleet were held ashore for two hours on Day Two to allow a sea breeze to fill in. It never really consolidated but there was enough for two races and again the course setting and mark moving was excellent. Race three was won by last years runners up Paul Barnett and Robin Lamb who lead out of the blocks and by pointing high squeezed the rest of the fleet, they were followed home by the Hartleys who had done well to recover from being well down the fleet on the first beat, Richard Peacock and Richard Roberts were third helped by the Murdochs hitting the final mark which dropped them to fifth behind the Worsleys. Race four was sailed in very similar conditions. The fleet started beautifully with good discipline, good boat speed and a perfect line up. The Henry brothers led at the first mark and held off the challenge round the first triangle. It was intense, with overlaps between the leading seven boats. By the finish the Hartley’s had pulled through with the Murdochs second and Worsleys third.
Monday was scheduled as a one race day to be followed by the crews race. The start was again postponed to allow the wind to fill in and settle. It remained light but there was enough to race. The Tay fleet made this a private battle with Paul Barnett and Robin Lamb finishing just ahead of the Murdochs followed for most of the race by the Worsleys who were pipped for third by Richard Peacock and Richard Roberts in a turn of events the Hartleys dropped to sixth.
Predictably and to the frustration of heavier teams, the crews race was sailed in a fresher and steadier afternoon wind. For the eleven teams which swapped ends of the boat it provided competition every bit as intense as the main event. Danielle Worsley led away from the line and round the first mark but sailed into a hole on the first reach allowing the chasing bunch to catch up. Richard Roberts and Mhairi Murdoch got through at the gybe and Mhairi was ahead as the fleet came onto the second beat, she held the lead despite the inevitable challenges on the run and finished first from Campbell Morrison and Alisdair Hood with Robin Lamb and Paul Barnett third.
Tuesday was another gentle day with Tor Bay sparkling in morning sunshine. There was a clear points separation between the leading boats as the fleet assembled for the final two races. It was the Hartleys to loose, with the Worsleys three points behind and Paul Barnett hard on their heels a further one point behind and last years winners the Murdoch’s sitting in fourth place six points behind the leaders.
Race six was another very close race which was all about protecting positions off wind and following the shifts upwind. The leading group of seven boats were particularly close and any mistake was punished, some of the most intense competition was for the last three places. It was that kind of regatta. Stewart and Mhairi Murdoch held onto their lead at the first mark to win, followed by Paul Barnett and Robin Lamb with the Richards Peacock and Roberts taking third. Suddenly, with the Hartleys dropped to fifth the whole event looked wide open. The Hartleys lead had been cut to one point, with Paul Barnett sitting second, and the Murdochs and Worsleys on equal points just two off the lead.
The Championship race was led by Stewart and Mhairi who held off successive challenges by the Hartleys and Paul and Robin. After the triangle and towards the end of the run it all went to pieces. The wind simply vanished, it filled in from ahead then from astern again, the Worsleys went from fourth to first the Hartleys from second to fifth the Murdochs clung on to second and Paul and Robin were third.
Before the discards came into play the Worsleys were on the lowest points total with 19, the Murdochs and Paul and Robin were both on 20 points and the Hartleys were fourth with 21 points. Discard the worst result from each total and the points were dead equal. Count back the competitor with the most first places and then the competitor with the most second places and the finishing order was reversed. By the shortest of heads, therefore, Mark and Richard Hartley are the 2015 Champions, Paul Barnett and Robin Lamb were second, Stewart and Mhairi Murdoch third and perversely Malcolm and Danielle Worsley who had the lowest overall points total and who had won the last race had to settle for fourth.
This was class racing at its best. The margins between the first few boats in each race was tiny with overlaps at the final mark in virtually every race. To have the results determined by the scoring system caused some debate. Under the previous yacht racing rules it would have been the result of the last race which determined the winner. The closeness provoked the suggestion that there should be a ‘winner takes all’ race just for the top four boats and it should take place close enough to the breakwater round a tight course to allow the rest of the fleet to spectate and shout encouragement……perhaps we should write this into the class rules for the next time there is a four way tie.
First Mk1 or Mk 2 - Chris Grice