Large fleet gathers for Winter Series race

Action from race three of the Winter Series.
Action from race three of the Winter Series.

The weather looked promising as a large fleet of boats gathered at Coleraine Marina for the third race in the Winter Series at Coleraine Yacht Club.

It is worth pointing out that most yacht clubs abandon sailing at the end of September or early October and commence racing again in April or May, but because of Coleraine Yacht Club’s unique position on the River Bann it is possible to sail all year round.

As the sailors rigged prior to the 14:30 start the little wind there was was threatening to disappear. The current on the river was fierce probably flowing at three knots. The heavy rains sometimes means that the gates on the river at Castleroe have to be opened to allow water down from Lough Neagh thus preventing flooding. Last Sunday was one of those times.

This was to be the battle of the two RS Visions between The McFarlane twins and Brian Holmes with crew Jonny Campbell but these conditions mean sailing is a lottery and no fair outcome was expected.

At the start Brian Holmes and Jonny hit the line first followed by David and Bruce with Lasers of Alan McCann Duncan Chapman Shane Phillips and James Campbell hot on their tails. Alistair Simpson in a Laser was next followed by his son Michael also in a Laser. Jack Culbertson the youngest sailor out in his Topper was having as much difficulty making the line as the girl team of Georgia Grossie and Alex Magee in their RS Viva.

Mervyn Montgomery once more launched late again and was disqualified .

Those boats on starboard tack on the port side of the course were doing best avoiding some of the current and getting a good lift up the pontoons. However when they had to tack across the current they were quickly swept back to the rest of the fleet and beyond. At some time or other all six leading boats had the lead only to lose it again.

The frustration of sailing in these conditions was getting to some sailors and a few comments were heard echoing across the still water.

After 40 minutes of sailing The McFarlane boys were in the lead followed by Shane Phillips and Duncan Chapman but the windward mark was still a long way off.

The sound of three horns signalling the abandonment of racing brought relief to the entire fleet most of whom had to be towed back to the slipway by the rescue boats.

So the battle of the Visions has not yet been decided. They race next week again in the hope of better sailing weather.