The week 18-24 August saw Saundersfoot Sailing Club host the Red Square Lark National Championship. The fleet was met with a fantastically warm welcome by all of the club members and PRO for the week, Commodore John Griffiths.
The forecast for the first three days was bang on – a lovely sunny force three on the Sunday gave the fleet some tight racing. A right-hand shift on the first beat favoured the boats that had started late in the gate. Richard and Jenny Bennett led for the first two laps, only to be overhauled by Richard Dowsett and Rachel Jones by lap three who went on to take the first race of the Championships, followed closely by the Bennetts and Chris Fish and Natalie Bannister.
In race two, Pete Vincent and Tegwyn Roberts led to the windward mark closely followed by Dougal and Nigel Scott and Emma Harris and Helen Woodward. The Scotts extended their lead to take their first win of the champs, with Harris/Woodward in second and Vincent/Roberts in third.
Monday dawned grey and damp with a light and variable wind. However, the pressure gradually built to a south-westerly Force 4 and the fleet got away from the gate to start race 3. Steve Cumley and Becky Priest and Nigel Hufton and Edd McArdle in their new Rondar Lark, rounded the top mark in first and second. Some dramatic place changing on the reaches saw the Scotts leading by the second beat, with a pack of six boats hard on their heels. After losing their lead briefly to Harris/Woodward, the Scotts finished in first with Harris/Woodward in second Neil and Fiona Ravenscroft sailing a fast race to finish in third.
Racing was abandoned for the day on Tuesday due to excessive southerly winds, so the fleet made the most of a lay-day and played beach games and partied hard in the evening.
Wednesday was the complete opposite of Tuesday with no breeze to speak of, but the fleet put to sea to attempt to catch up on the race programme with three races scheduled for the day.
Race four was sailed in frustrating conditions, with a gradual right-hand shift that favoured the Bennetts and Harris/Woodward who rounded in first and second. The Scotts worked their way through to third by the wing mark. As the breeze faded, the course was shortened, with the Bennetts taking their first championship victory followed by Harris/Woodward and the Scotts in third.
After a gap of almost an hour waiting for the wind to steady and fill back in, the fleet sailed an almost identical race for race five, with right paying again up the first beat. This time, it was the Ravenscrofts who took advantage to take a clear lead to the finish with Justin Deal and Sarah Marriott overhauling Steve and Karen Bolland to take second with the Bollands in third.
Another line start began race six, with the Scotts getting clear by the windward mark, followed by Harry Pynn and Tom Alexander and Simon Cox and Dave Herbert. By the leeward mark, there had been no place changes in the top five. However, Harris/Woodward picked up a port lift on the next beat which brought them out in front of the Scotts at the start of the run. This time the race officer decided to give the fleet one more beat and the Scotts sailed fast to pip Harris/Woodward on the finish post by a whisker. Paul and Vicky Gardner sailed a clever final leg to overhaul Pynn/Alexander to finish a commendable third.
Race seven was sailed in overcast conditions and a 5 knot breeze. Deal/Marriott who had led round the top mark were overhauled by the Ravenscrofts on lap three, who went on to win their second race of the Championships. The Scotts and the Bennetts both managed to sail through Deal/Marriott to finish second and third respectively.
After a wait for the breeze to swing and strengthen, the fleet got away to sail an Olympic-type triangle for race eight. This time Martin Gillam and Ruth Johnson rounded the windward mark in top position, followed by the Bennetts and Richard Adams and Tash Styles. Again, the Scot