We thought that we would not see lighter conditions than at Overy Staithe a couple of weeks ago, but Wells surpassed all expectations with winds so light and variable that they often disappeared altogether leaving the fleet scanning the horizon for the merest hint of a ripple on the glassy water.

Remarkably, Race Officers Peter & Jean Terrington managed to squeeze in four races over the two days with some creative course setting to make the most of the very limited opportunities.

Any suggestion that conditions were fluky were dispelled by Martin Read in GBR135 ‘Poelsnip’, crewed by 81-year-old veteran sharpie sailor Roger Richardson. Together they managed two first places and a second to dominate the event and deservedly win the regatta. GBR 128 ‘Capella’ crewed by Alex Smith and Paul Beachell were consistently fast over the weekend in spite of a birthday hangover and managed to discard a 4thplace but it was not so straight forward for the rest of the fleet, with most boats managing a mixed bag of good positions outweighed by some very average results.

The first day saw an upwind race against the tide followed by a long downwind race back to the town. It’s a long time since we have sailed a whole race with no tacks required! The run to the town was great for spectators as the 10-strong fleet rounded the two turning marks side-by-side and then spread across the width of the channel and took turns to lead and then fall back into the pack as the wind was blanketed. Tim Ashby and Charlie Borthwick in GBR111 ‘Southern Cross’ were confident they had the lead about halfway to the finish but ended up 10th! Special mention must be made of Lucy Anthony crewed by Dad Adam in GBR127 ‘Skybird’ who finished 2nd, and also Richard Mulderij and Oggy in NED226 ‘Fuut’ who seem to be becoming light wind specialists, celebrating one of their finishes with a joint “floss” as they crossed the line – a first for the sharpie fleet. (for the uninitiated, a “floss” is the latest dance craze – ask Richard or Oggy to demonstrate!)

Thanks to Wells SC for hosting the weekend and putting on a tasty BBQ Saturday lunchtime. Results are on the sharpie website: www.sharpies.org.uk/2018-results/

After the first two Open meetings of the season it is difficult to draw any definite conclusion from the results, other than that all boats seem to have the ability to be fast on their day and there is no clear favourite for the British Championships at Brancaster Staithe SC in two weeks’ time. Let’s hope that the wind comes out to play next time!

(Chris Gibbs)

Wells Open Report – June 2018