Despite the end of their travellers trophy series at Grafham, flooding and an appalling weather forecast, six Shearwaters decided to make the trip to Weston Sailing club on November 4-5 to compete in their catamaran open meeting.
Saturday dawned with bright sunshine and light to moderate breeze and the race committee made the sensible decision to hold four races, given the forecast for Sunday, with the Shearwaters competing in the handicap fleet of 30 assorted cats over a windward / leeward course.
In race one Dan Tindale and Ben Farnborough in ‘New Dawn’ took an early and unassailable lead followed by Kevin and Shelley Saunders in ‘Klass Act’, Alan and Jenny Howland in ‘Cat et AL et Jen’ and Richard Hamblin and Catherine Howland in ‘Simply Red’. These three had a close race with each other behind ‘New Dawn’ with ‘Klass Act’ and ‘Cat el Al et Jen’ changing positions throughout the race, slowly closing down ‘New Dawn’. ‘New Dawn’ maintained there lead to take the win, followed by ‘Klass Act’, ‘Cat et AL et Jen’ and ‘Simply Red’.
Race two saw ‘New Dawn’ again take an early lead with ‘Klass Act’ and ‘Simply Red’ in close contention and ‘Cat et AL et Jen’ again snapping at their heels. ‘New Dawn’ showed great composure in increasingly shifty conditions to take the honours again, ‘Klass Act’showed excellent boat speed and took second followed by ‘Simply Red’ and ‘Cat et Al et Jen’. Race three saw ‘New Dawn’s’ apparent invincibility challenged with ‘Klass Act’ sailing a faultless first beat to lead by a big margin followed by ‘Simply Red’ and ‘Cat et Al et Jen’. However, on the second beat the shifts were even more pronounced and ‘Simply Red’ and ‘Cat et Al et Jen’ closed up to ‘Klass Act’ and these three then swapped positions over the next few legs seldom more than 20 yards apart. Behind them ‘New Dawn’ was pulling through the fleet rapidly to start to challenge the leading three. At the final windward mark ‘Simply Red’ led from ‘Cat et Al et Jen’ and ‘Klass Act’ with the wind beginning to drop. ‘Simply Red’ grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory, letting ‘Cat et Al et Jen’ through on the run to take first, and ‘Klass Act’, who took a flyer, to pip them right on the line for second, ‘New Dawn’ pulled up to finish fourth behind ‘Simply Red’ Race four was sailed in ever decreasing winds with ‘Cat et Al et Jen’ taking an early lead and leading from start to finish. ‘Klass Act’ and ‘New Dawn’ had a close race for second with ‘New Dawn’ finally pulling away to take second place. ‘Simply Red’ followed over the line in fourth on the water but as a result of the aggregate time system being utilised, newcomers to the fleet Nigel Stuart and Sarah Howland in ‘Stunning Stuff’ were credited with fourth as a result of finishing on the previous round.
Sunday delivered the expected weather and very different conditions to Saturday. A number of boats decided to call it a day but those that did launch were treated to exciting and challenging conditions. ‘New Dawn’ again showed their ability in all conditions to take a commanding lead in race five straight from the gun, followed by ‘Klass Act’ and ‘Cat et Al et Jen’. A problem with the spinnaker on ‘New Dawn’ allowed ‘Klass Act’ to close down ‘New Dawn’, but in the ever increasing wind ‘New Dawn’ again showed excellent boat handling skills to pull well clear. On their third round ‘New Dawn’s’ main halyard failed leaving them to limp home under jib only, however, as a result of the lead they had at the time ‘Klass Act’ and ‘Cat et AL et Jen’ were able to finish without completing a third round allowing ‘Klass Act’ to take first from ‘Cat et Al et Jen’ in second.
Discretion took over and no one competed in race six. Once again the Shearwater showed its ability to compete with the more modern lightweight catamarans with four finishing in the top 10, and it was also pleasing to see another veteran design win the overall prize in the shape of the Unicorn sailed superbly by Dan