Ben and Sarah Nicholls sailing Bertie Wooster sailed a superb series to take an overall win in the Flying 15 class at Aldeburgh Regatta Week

Aldeburgh Yacht Club 2002 Regatta took place last week , and the Flying 15 fleet enjoyed its annual assortment of wind strengths and wind directions together with some tough decisions to make due to the tidal differences around the various corners of the River Alde.

The Flying 15 class races were held in the mornings, with a keelboat handicap in the afternoons. The number of entries for the class racing, a little under 20, were down slightly this year due to three of the regular Aldeburgh boats unable to race this year and the visitors preferred instead to go to the Southern Championship at Hayling Island, but the racing remained competitive and a great week was had by all in the sunny, light to moderate conditions.

The first two races were held in light winds, the keys to success were avoiding the strong tide and maintaining boatspeed by changing gears quickly as the wind picked up and dropped with monotonous regularity. Ben and Sarah Nicholls pulled away from the fleet leaving Jock Mawson crewed by Paul Botterill to fight it out with Simon and Sarah Davies for second. Jock was second in race one with the Davies’ second in race two.

The wind filled in for the third race of the week. Toby Courlander and Mike Turnbull had a close tacking dual with Ben and Sarah Nicholls on the first beat, the windward mark was three miles upwind! The Nicholls’ pulled away to win the race, but Toby and Mike had a good lead over third placed David Andren and Katie Oldrey. The Silver Fleet was having a great tussle with John Alderson and Olivier Millington doing battle with Paul Raper and ‘Fletch’ and Will Boyd crewed by Sandy Johnson. Will and Sandy were holding all the cards at this point in the regatta.

The fourth race was the annual Round the Island Race, where the fleet race around Havergate Island, a seven-mile beat, with a finish at Orford Sailing Club. The winds were extremely variable with the boats at time struggling to make way against the tide and at other times on the plane. Jock Mawson and Paul Botterill started well, but were not able to hold off the Nicholls team who were continuing to show convincing boatspeed. An extremely close race developed for second place with four different boats holding the position for a while, protest flags were waved in anger by some, but it was the Davies’ who came through to finish second after demonstrating some very skilful light-weather sailing technique. The Fleet enjoyed an extremely good class dinner in the yacht club that night and with three boats within one point of each other for second overall, there was a lot of Port being bought for each other in an attempt to help the opposition in their build-up for the final race!

The final race was held in the best winds of the week, with all crews fully hiked on the upwind and reaching legs. Occasional gusts of Force 5-6 gave the fleet some wonderful planning reaches. The Nicholls’ won this race by a considerable margin to complete a clean sweep for the week, but Toby Courlander and Mike Turnbull showed the speed they had threatened to show all week to finish second with Jock Mawson and the Davies’ fighting for third. The Davies’ secured third to give them second overall for the week. John Alderson and Olivier Millington sailed well in the last race to give them first overall in the Silver Fleet to win the Toft Trophy.

Overall Results

1st 3417 Bertie Wooster Ben and Sarah Nicholls

2nd 3290 Icy Calm Simon and Sarah Davies

3rd 3597 Mr Puffa Jock Mawson and Paul Botterill

4th 3732 Fforza Azzuri Toby Courlander and Mike Turnbull

5th 3345 Fantasy David Andren and Katie Oldrey