2023 Masters Championships Report

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Wigan and St Helens put on a great event – if you’ve never been, keep an eye open for their open meeting next season, they’re well worth a visit!

The weekend’s sailing took place in light airs up to F2 mainly from the SE and S with some ‘interesting’ shifts –  the forecast gusts of up to 20 knots didn’t materialise, but the thunderstorms did!

Race officer Neil Hornby wisely warned the fleet at the briefing that in the event of a thunderstorm during racing he would abandon unless the race was nearing its conclusion in which case he would finish boats at the next mark of the course in order to get competitors to safety as soon as possible.

The breeze in Race 1 sailed on a figure of eight course was the lightest of all. Martin Honnor & Isobel Hedley-Fenn and Nigel & Andy Bird got away well and after some close racing Martin and Isobel took the honours with the Birds in second and the local team of Royston Taggart & Hazel Gee taking third. Paul Sheppard & Steve Bristow were 4th and Paul Young and Louise Hassall 5th.

Jon Woodward and Rebecca Bradley retired after missing a mark of the course.

The breeze was a little stronger and more consistent in Race 2 with a long windward leg and slalom downwind. Nigel & Andy got away well to lead from start to finish. Meanwhile Charles Morrish & Duncan Willoughby repeatedly played the right hand side of the beat to good effect to take second place with Martin & Isobel third.

Race 3 got under way with storm clouds looming, the local team of Paul Sheppard & Steve Bristow led to the windward mark and were still in the front three when the lightening flashed and the thunder roared. The RO, with safety a priority, abandoned the race which was little more than 10 minutes old. It was clearly the correct decision as although the lightening stayed relatively distant the rain came in torrents while the wind (which kept light and died altogether at some moments) shifted through all points of the compass. Meanwhile the fleet enjoyed beer under shelter either in the club or in the vastness of Jon and Julie’s new motorhome, being ‘christened’ at its first event.

Races 4, 5 and 6 were all sailed on figure of eight courses and followed a similar pattern in terms of placings.

Race 4 saw the Birds, Martin & Isobel and Charles & Duncan arrive at the windward mark in close order and those were the positions at the finish with Royston & Hazel 4th and Jon & Rebecca 5th.

In Race 5 the same three boats reached the windward mark in the same order leading the rest of the fleet. While the leading two pulled away, the Scottish sailors were caught and passed on the final beat by Jon & Rebecca who sailed free, found some extra pressure and took 3rd. Paul & Steve took 5th.

At this stage it was clear that the Birds were winners of the event with Martin & Isobel second and, unless total disaster befell them, Charles and Duncan would take 3rd.

In Race 6 the order at the windward mark was a little different: Nigel & Andy led again but this time Charles & Duncan were second with Martin & Isobel just behind. The Birds gradually pulled away while Martin & Isobel eventually passed the Scottish sailors on one of the runs to take second place. On the final lap Jon & Rebecca pushed the Scots back into 4th to take 3rd for themselves but it was not enough to disturb the final placings. Paul & Steve again took 5th

Congratulations to Nigel and Andy Bird, winners of the 2023 Enterprise Masters!

Thanks again to Wigan and St Helens Sailing Club