29 Jun International 14 Easter Tray at Itchenor Sailing Club
The sun dawned on Friday. There was a buzz in the air. Even the thought of flying around the harbour for 3 straight days of tight racing added a spring to everyone’s step.
Would ‘the nippers’ Neale Jones & Ed Fitzgerald carry the form from the Bloody Mary, where they beat (apart from 280 other boats) Ben McGrane/Olivier Vidal and Archie Massey/Harvey Hillary. Had fatherhood slowed Glen Truswell? Unfortunately, none of the new boats had yet arrived. We’ll likely have to wait until PoW to find out everyone’s true form this season.
The forecast was suggesting that we might have a little too much of Saturday (47 knots) and Sunday (35 knots), so we added a race to Friday’s schedule.
The day started with a perfect early season 12 knots from the North West. The Easter Tray is normally famed for an early season mash-up, with questionable boat-handling in the last of the winter storms. This year was sunny and great twin-wiring. There was a strong tidal gradient with the tide still flooding on the easterly shore, but ebbing from the west shore. Anyone getting a good start was punished for continuing into the adverse tide. This worked perfectly for Massey/Hillary, who after being OCS, returned, ducked the fleet and headed right. 3rd to the top mar, picking the opposite shore for downwind and first to the bottom.
Meanwhile Gilbert/McGrane, returning to the fleet to try to improve on the 3 seconds at the Worlds had a great start, but the extra tack up the beat put them into 4th at the top, which they held to the finish. Julian Pearson, now sailing with top Laser talent Matt Reid, put in a great first beat to lie second. Truswell/Pascoe led from the off, but picked the wrong shore on the first run and dropped to second. However, he learnt from his error and beat Massey/Hillary to the right shore upwind and was leading again by the top. Meanwhile Andy Fitzgerald, teaming up with Alex Knight for the weekend, sailed a whiley second run, taking the shift over the tide and pulled into a solid 3rd.
The final run saw the wind shut down at the final leeward mark, allowing Massey/Hillary to briefly pass Truswell/Pascoe, but this was short-lived. Fitzgerald/Knight briefly threatened to sail around Massey/Hillary, but narrowly failed, securing 3rd. Gilbert/McGrane finished 4th and the lighter winds not suiting our Bloody Mary winners, finishing in 7th.
There was then a brief pause in proceedings as the sea breeze flipped the wind around, eventually coming in at a beautiful 15 knots.
The next two races were far more straight forward affairs, with an onshore wind and minimal tide, it was now the more traditional boat-handling, boat-speed contest. Truswell/Pascoe had a small edge and held a narrow lead to the finish over Massey/Hillary. Jones/Fitzgerald took a solid 3rd.
In the last race, looking for a one-tack beat, Jones/Fitzgerald and Massey/Hillary lined up for the port tack flyer. It turned out that there was only room for one! Massey/Hillary snuck through across the bows of Gilbert/McGrane and within a millisecond of the gun. Luck, bravado or stupidity? Either way it worked and they went on to an easy win.Gilbert/McGrane were racing around in 2nd, with Truswell/Pascoe in 5th. If Truswell/Pascoe could pull through to 2nd, they’d take the weekend. For 2 laps Gilbert/McGrane pointed high and held Truswell/Pascoe behind. However on the 3rd lap, Truswell/Pascoe tacked off early and easily slid through to leeward, pulling away into a comfortable 2nd and with it retained the Easter Tray.
The next event is the Hayling Hull, where we get to lune up against the first of the new boats; Peter Crockford’s ‘Cuckoo’s Nest’, built by Plymouth Uni Undergrads.