The 2021 Flying Fifteen Inland Championship at Chew Valley Lake SC on October 9th and 10th saw 24 entries, including six from the home fleet.
The forecast had looked light all week and proved to be remarkably accurate. Competitors arriving on Saturday were greeted with bacon butties, coffee and tea, a picturesque Chew Valley Lake, but zero wind! At 2pm, still with a flat calm and no prospect of improvement, racing was abandoned for the day giving everyone the afternoon for country walks and local sightseeing before a well-attended social at the sailing club in the evening.
Sunday morning started with the lake still rather calm, but by the 1030 start time the weather had improved to classic inland conditions, 8-10 knots with plenty of shifts and pleasantly warm sunshine for mid-October. The race team lead by PRO John Smalley got proceedings under way on time and ran 4 good races for a truncated but hotly contested championship series.
Race 1 started with a shifty first beat, and some competitors discovering the exact location of those shallows that someone mentioned in the briefing! There was plenty of place changing throughout the race, although on the last run Bill Chard & Josh Preater, and Charles & Charlie Apthorp, extended a lead from the rest of the fleet with Bill & Josh taking the win from the Apthorps, and Richard Hope & Mike Stenson in 3rd.
Race 2 started with a port shift allowing Chew skiff sailors Alex Knight & Rob Higgins in a borrowed boat to execute a perfect port end flyer and take the lead, only to have their race ended by gear failure on the first run. After three laps, Justin Waples & Jackie McKellar took first, followed by Jeremy Davey & Martin Huett, and then Bill & Josh.
Race 3 saw the only general recall of the event, but according to the committee boat it was a pretty blatant one! However, the restart was still under a ‘P’ flag, and the fleet was away cleanly at the second attempt. Ian Pinnell & Ian Cadwallader rounded the windward mark first and went on to take a convincing win. Richard Lovering & Matt Alvarado were second, followed by Greg Wells & Elliot Wells.
Race 4 introduced a discard and would be the decider for the event, with 4 boats in the running. There was a short postponement, as a wind shift forced the race team to rotate the course to the left, making the shallows a more significant factor on the right side of the beat. Nevertheless, the right side paid, and at the first mark Jeremy & Martin (needing 2nd or better to win the event) rounded first.
Of the boats in contention, Bill & Josh, and Ian & Ian, were too far down the fleet to influence the end-result. At the front, Jeremy & Martin lead for most of the race pushed hard by Richard & Matt and Greg & Elliot.
Richard & Matt took the lead on the final run but second was enough for Jeremy & Martin to secure first overall. Richard & Matt’s race win put them level on points with Bill & Josh, but just ahead on count-back so they took second overall.
The top 5 finishing positions were:
1st: 3760 Jeremy Davey and Martin Huett, Draycote Water SC
2nd: 4002 Richard Lovering and Matt Alvarado, Hayling Island SC
3rd: 4069 Bill Chard and Josh Preater, Chew Valley Lake SC
4th: 4055 Ian Pinnell and Ian Cadwallader, Chew Valley Lake / Hayling Island SC
5th: 4030 Greg Wells and Elliot Wells, Hayling Island SC
With four different race winners, a very close overall result, and despite concerns over the forecast, The Inlands was a successful event to end the Flying Fifteen Championship series for 2021.
The future looks bright for the class going into 2022, the 75th anniversary year of the Flying Fifteen class, with a healthy number of new boats launched and more being built. Next year’s calendar is looking good and includes the Nationals at Hayling Island, and the European Championship at Cowes. Then in 2023 the next World Championship will take place in Fremantle Australia.
Full results for the 2021 Inland Championships are at: https://www.chewvalleysailing.org.uk/files/results/FF-Inlands-2021.html
Report - Bill Chard
Photos - Errol Edwards