Race seven of the Red Square Lark national championship was sailed in overcast conditions and a 5 knot gradient breeze on Thursay 24 August.
In the frustratingly light conditions Simon Cox and Dave Herbert in their new Rondar Lark were pathfinders. Justin Deal and Sarah Marriott in their university boat came very well out of the gate to reach the first mark ahead of Neil and Fiona Ravenscroft. After the sausage leg the Ravenscrofts had overhauled Deal and Marriott, and then as the breeze dropped very light Dougal and Nigel Scott managed to get through to second ahead of Richard and Jenny Bennett, by sailing very high on the first reach to allow for the tide. Sensibly PRO John Griffiths saw the breeze dying and shortened the course at the bottom of the first trapezoid to give the Ravenscrofts their second bullet of the week, followed by the Scotts and Bennetts both strengthening their overall positions in the week of first and third.
After a wait for the breeze to swing and strengthen, the fleet started race eight on a newly laid triangle/sausage course. Martin Gillam and Ruth Johnson rounded the windward mark first, followed by Richard and Jenny Bennett and Richard Adams and Tash Styles in their new Rondar Lark, and set off down the top reach. Again the reach was very tight due to the spring tides and no places changed as the leading three boats built up a good lead in a strengthening sea breeze.
Gillam and Johnson held on up the next beat and on the run they gybed and went left while most of the chasing pack went right to allow for the ebb tide, but no places actually changed. The breeze strengthened further up the next beat and right paid again, which particularly benefited the Scotts who rounded fourth and then were able to get through Adams and Styles down the reach of the trapezoid working their way into third.
With notification of a shorten course at the top of the next beat Gillam and Johnson sailed defensively to take the race from the Bennetts and the Scotts. This third place for the Scotts secured overall victory in the championship with a race/day to spare, and put Richard and Jenny Bennett in second just ahead of Emma Harris and Helen Woodward going into the final day.
The fleet was now enjoying the best wind of the day and it was decided to run the crew’s race straight after the last race of the day. PRO John Griffiths tested the crews by setting an extremely starboard-biased line, and they duly showed how on the ball they were by giving the first general recall of the week. Getting away cleanly second time, Tom Alexander and Harry Pynn led from start to finish, closely followed by a small pack containing Clare La Forge and Matthew White, Rachel Jones and Richard Dowsett and Helen Woodward and Emma Harris. After two laps of a triangle/sausage course the finishing order was Alexander and Pynn, Becky Priest and Steve Cumley in second, and Jones and Dowsett in third.
After a short postponement the ninth and final race of the championship on Friday morning commenced. Most of the fleet opted for a late start on the gate line but those who chose to go early took advantage of a veering breeze, and Steve and Karen Bolland led around the windward mark, closely followed by Paul and Vicky Gardner and Dougal and Nigel Scott. These three continually pulled away from the battle for fourth and fifth between Emma Harris and Helen Woodward and Richard and Jenny Bennett who were contending for second place overall. The Scotts, showing off their great championship form, sailed through both the Bollands and the Gardners to take the last race of the series. The Bollands, ending their week on a high, finished in second, with the Gardners in third.
The battle for second overall was a closely fought one. Harris and Woodward needed to finish two places ahead of the Bennetts. By the second lap, the girls had managed to sneak ahead, but the Bennetts demonstrating the speed they had shown all week were rig