A fleet of 44 turned out for the Mirror inland championship at Hollingworth Lake SC on 13-14 April
The attractive sunlit setting of Hollingworth Lake welcomed a fleet of 44 Mirrors to the class inland championship on 13-14 April. With visitors from as far as Penzance, Plymouth, Poole, Brightlingsea and Sunderland (and many places in between), it was sure to be a competitive event. The weather stayed fine until the prizegiving, though the wind was light and highly variable. Jonathan McGovern and Nicola Brook were comfortable winners, but the next few places in particular were closely contested.
The first race saw an opening bid by Ian Dobson and Andrew Hall, having a small advantage at the first mark from McGovern, with Craig Bond and son Mitchell in third place and Mirror expert Guy Wilkins (crewed by son Ben) in fourth. On the second beat, McGovern got through Dobson and gained a good lead to the finish. Bond came in third, but there was a close finish for the next four boats.
After a short break, the next two races were sailed back to back. Race two started with a general recall, followed by the raising of the Black Flag. Dobson and McGovern took a clear lead after the first mark. The McKenzie sisters were in third, with Stuart Bithell and Holly Scott in fifth, but challenging fourth. McGovern soon gained the lead, which he held to the finish, while the McKenzie girls broke through Dobson, with Bithell in fourth. Then the wind dropped away and veered to the north. Bithell took advantage and came in second, ahead of Dobson, the McKenzies and the Birrells who had climbed to fifth. It looked as if no further racing would be possible, but the wind freshened and filled in from the north-west and Race Officer Nick Brook moved to a new area for a start, but the wind swung back again. After two general recalls, the fleet was away and this time Josh and Judi Gebhard took the lead. The Birrells were well placed and overtook on a port approach to a windward mark and were never headed. McGovern climbed through the fleet, with Dobson close behind and, in an exciting finish, McGovern gained second.
At this stage, McGovern clearly had the overall advantage and it looked as if Dobson would be the only challenger, but Sunday was to see some changes of fortune. The wind was lighter still and very patchy on the water. Wilkins took an early lead and the Gebhards rounded in second following a poor start. McGovern was in fifth at this stage but climbed through to third, while Darren and Natalie Roach found form for fourth. The Birrells could make no progress and finished 13th, while Dobson had a useful sixth place.
McGovern could not be beaten to the title in the fifth race but other places were still to be decided. This time the Birrells were again on form and quickly built up a strong lead, which they held to the finish. The Gebhards and Wilkins were the chasing boats, but changed places as the race wore on, while McGovern again worked his way through to fourth, with clubmate Bithell in fifth. Dobson was now in trouble for a good place overall and would be discarding his 15th place. Thus the Birrells took runner-up place overall, behind McGovern, with the Gebhards in third.
1st 69907, Jonny McGovern/Nicola Brook (HLSC) 7 points
2nd 69164, Niki and Christian Birrell (Winsford Flash SC) 12 points
3rd 69975, Josh and Judi Gebhard (Derwent Reservoir SC) 16 points
4th 70000, Stuart Bithell/Holly Scott (HLSC) 17 points
5th 39508, Guy and Ben Wilkins (Chipstead SC) 18 points
6th 69821, Ian Dobson and Andrew Hall (Burwain SC) 18 points
Leading Girl helmsman
Katie and Anna McKenzie (RWYC) (7th place)