Day four

Wind conditions at the Red Square Lark nationals at Sandersfoot continue to play havoc with the event. Tuesday’s racing was abandoned due to excessive southerly winds and sea state, Wednesday (22 August) dawned the complete opposite with no breeze to speak of. However, the fleet put to sea launching into a difficult swell to attempt to catch up on the race programme. Luckily as they arrived at the Committee Boat a very light breeze filled in from the south-east.

In the light airs of race four it became clear that the breeze was shifting right and that the right-hand side the beat was paying. This favoured Richard and Jenny Bennett who rounded ahead of Emma Harris and Helen Woodward and Chris Fish and Nathalie Bannister. With a strong spring ebb setting the first reach became very tactical with Dougal and Nigel Scott working their way through to third by the gybe mark. These positions were maintained up the next beat and down the run, where the wind dropped very light. Wisely, PRO, John Griffiths, decided to shorten, giving Richard and Jenny Bennett their first National Championship race win, with Harris/Woodward in second and the Scotts in third. After a gap of almost an hour waiting for the wind to steady and fill back in, the fleet got away to sail an almost identical race (race five), with right paying again up the first beat. This time, it was Neil and Fiona Ravenscroft who took advantage to take a clear lead at the windward mark, with Steve and Karen Bolland hot on their heels and Justin Deal and Sarah Mariott from Exeter University following in third. Again, a light and fickle breeze on the final downwind leg meant there was much to be gained and lost. The Ravenscrofts kept their lead, but Deal and Mariott sailed a cleverly to overhaul the Bollands before the finish.

Another line start began the last race of the day (race six), with Dougal and Nigel Scott getting clear by the windward mark, followed by Harry Pynn and Tom Alexander and Simon Cox and Dave Herbert in their new Rondar Lark. By the leeward mark, after two very tight and tricky reaches, there had been no place changes in the top five. However, Harris and Woodward, who had been in fifth place picked up port lift which brought them out in front of the Scotts at the start of the run, with the Scotts behind now battling for second place. This time, the race officer decided to give the fleet one more beat before shortening. The Scotts took advantage, sailed fast and pipped Harris/Woodward at the finish post by a whisker. Paul and Vicky Gardner overhauled both Pynn/Alexander and Cox/Herbert to finished a commendable third.