A total of 56 boats travelled to St Mary's Loch SC for the Enterprise inland championship last weekend

Last weekend, St Mary’s Loch Sailing Club hosted the 2004 UK Inland Championship for the Enterprise. Fifty-six boats, some having travelled from as far as the south of England, competed for the coveted Enterprise trophy, over two days of tough sailing in a range of conditions. St Mary’s Loch lived up to its reputation by providing all kinds of wind, from very close to zero to Force 5 with white horses dancing across the surface.

The early arrivals appeared on Friday, setting up camp by the clubhouse and enjoying the odd refreshment to calm their nerves for the next day’s competition.

The first race was on Saturday afternoon, heralded by the impressive sight of 56 sets of blue sails heading up the loch to where Race Officer John Robertson had set a challenging course making the most of the available light wind. Light wind skills were the name of the game, with even the locals struggling to make their mark. Eventual winners of race one were Tim Sadler and Richard Sault (E 22918, Hallamshire Sailing Club) in first, Malcolm Lunn and Keith Renz (E 22885 second, and Leigh and Lowton SC) Jack and Joe Banks (E 20900, Sheffield Viking SC) third.

Whilst boats gathered for the second race, the wind gradually slipped away, leaving all drifting slowly in baking hot sun. Such was the soporific effect of the heat that one crew even dozed off, meeting a rude awakening when their boat gently ran ashore. The congratulatory noises from the rest of the fleet brought everything back to life other than the wind and, after a patient wait, John Robertson had no option but to cancel the second race and send everyone back to the clubhouse in plenty time for dinner and the traditional ceilidh.

Renowned more for its energy than its finesse, and described by the visitors as ‘a form of tribal dancing’, the St Mary’s ceilidh now has a recognised place in sailing club lore and is not ideally suited to those of a weak disposition or with a heart complaint. However, complaints there were none, and after the music and dancing had subsided, even the most determined were safely tucked up by a relatively conservative 2am.

Sunday morning may not have felt quite so fresh to the late-nighters, but the wind had different ideas and was blowing robustly, if not steadily, from the south-west. Again the race officer decided the far end of the Loch was where the best conditions were to be found, and the fleet set off, hoping to make up for Saturday’s cancellation by squeezing in four races rather than the planned three.

The inland championship is fought over five races, with competitors being allowed to discard their worst result. The lowest points are awarded to the winning boats in each individual race, with the overall winners being those with fewest points at the end of the two days racing.

Sunday’s first race was certainly sailed in livelier conditions than Saturday, but was only a taste of what lay ahead. Euan Dunn and (local girl) Fi Foulkes (E 22525, Loch Lomond SC) took first place with Tim Sadler and Richard Sault (E 22918, Hallamshire Sailing Club) in second and Martin Honnor and Simon Haighton (E 23045, Hallamshire SC) third.

Race third followed immediately, with wind strength building gradually, though swinging about in a manner that tested the race officer’s patience. Boat speeds were increasing and one or two crews had their first opportunity to experience how cold a Scottish loch can be even in May. Martin Honnor and Simon Haighton (E 23045, Hallamshire SC) were the winners.

A now very cold fleet headed back to the clubhouse for some very welcome hot soup, before John Robertson had everyone heading back off up the Loch again, still determined to squeeze in the missed race.

Tension among the crews was building, and overspilled when a number of over-enthusiastic crews were over the line just before the start flag fell. However, calmed by the discipline of a recall, they were all well behaved and got off to a clean second start. The long beat off the start line saw the fleet hold pretty close, but as they rounded each mark, they were slowly divided, with those who capsized losing precious minutes and several race places. Lively conditions brought new contenders to the fore with Pete Lawson and Dennis Swain (E 23039, Bassenthwaite SC) taking first from Tim Sadler and Richard Sault (E 22918, Hallamshire Sailing Club).

With the wind increasing for the final race several crews decided to retire, leaving just 14 boats to contend the final race.

Preparing to start Race 5, the Committee Boat again experienced anchoring difficulties against the wind and, with less than a minute to go before the start, the Race officer had to abandon in the face of a drifting boat and thereby a moving start line. Initial disappointment led to relief as some very wet and cold crews brought their boats back to the safety of the beach for the last time.

Overall Results

1 22918 Tim Sadler and Richard Sault Hallamshire SC

2 23045 Martin Honnor and Simon Haighton Hallamshire SC

3 20900 Jack and Joe Banks Sheffield Viking SC

4 22525 Euan Dunn and Fi Foulkes Loch Lomond SC

5 23085 Chris and Al Fry Hallamshire SC

6 23089 Jonathan Woodward and Alex Halliwell Redditch SC

7 23051 Jonathan and Karl Lyle Notts County SC

8 22516 David Coady and Mark Smith Tynemouth SC

9 23039 Pete Lawson and Dennis Swain Bassenthwaite SC

10 22885 Malcolm Lunn and Keith Renz Leigh & Lowton SC