Light fickle winds greeted the 8 visiting Scorpions to the very first Hollingworth Lake Scorpion Open shared with the GP14’s (that only attracted 1 visiting boat) and Mirrors (attracting a single Junior Crew and Helm traveling from Ulleswater).
The lake seemed to be sat in the middle of two competing wind directions, which left race officer Oli Whitehead with an unenviable task.
Despite pressure from Stephen Graham & Charlotte Farmer (Northampton) to leeward, National Champions Andy McKee & Chris Massey (Dovestone/Hollingworth Lake) got the best from the start of race 1 and led up the first beat, and the 2nd beat (which should have been a reach) and the 3rd beat (which should have been a run) and the 4th beat (which in fairness should actually have been a beat). A F2 Westerly wind started to dominate and on the next run with the kites up Graham & Farmer and Steve Walker & Jerry Hannabuss (Pennine) clawed back into contention. Graham & Farmer momentarily edging their nose in front but with McKee & Massey managing to hold position just managing to nudge their bow on the inside the next mark to gain the lead back and eventually take the win. Following an upwind battle and with the wind dying again, Walker & Hannabuss got the better of Graham & Farmer to take 2nd. In fourth was last Nationals Silver Fleet Winners Pete Crowther & Dave Thompson (Pennine) followed closely by Rich Jones & John Purdie (Pennine) in 5th
After lunch (which was included in the £15 entry fee and included rather large cake, just what you need in light winds) Race 2 got underway. The Race Officer had set a course based on the wind direction at the time, but during the sequence a large port shift set in again. Graham & Farmer once again found themselves to leeward of McKee & Massey and with more momentum and much more conviction than last time pushed McKee & Massey over the line. Crowther & Thompson took full advantage with a storming get away closely pursued by Graham & Farmer. Presuming the single recall was only for McKee & Massey, Walker & Hannabuss pushed on up the beat, only to be called back due to an unforced early start. Crowther & Thompson and Graham & Farmer were in a race of their own for the remainder, and with a few goes each at the lead the race was won by Crowther & Thompson. McKee & Massey fought through the fleet into 3rd and Walker & Hannabuss 4th
The points were now close going into race 3 and any of the top 4 could have taken the day. The start of race 3 was much the same as the previous races, with another huge Port Shift. Walker & Hannabuss and Graham & Farmer battled at the front from the start for the event win. Carl Jones (crewed for by Jane, a member of the duty team after Shelly Jones had to retire from injury) (Pennine) was in a close battle for 3rd with Jones & Purdie. Crowther & Thompson closely followed and seeing an opening at a leeward mark took for the inside, only for Jones & Jane to close the door on them, forcing them out of the rounding. Unfortunately, in doing so Jones & Jane clipped the back of Jones & Purdie. In the mele McKee & Massey found a route through into 3rd and began hunting the leaders. Despite a pause halfway round the next lap to assess a case of “self-launching pole-itus” that McKee had contracted to his head, the team managed to hunt the leaders down, but the last lap just wasn’t long enough to make a pass and the race finished Walker & Hannibus, Graham & Farmer, McKee & Massey giving Steve Walker his first event win at Hollingworth Lake since 1981! (Ironically in a Mirror). Steve dropped a few pearls of wisdom for the young Mirror Helm & Crew that back in ’81 in was him in the Mirror and look where he is now!
Special mentions go to Shotwick Lake pairing Paul Newman & David Ravenscroft sailing in 1681 “Whiffler”, a boat that is now in its 40th year and still showing a bit of pace in the light fickle winds.
Steve Walker & Jerry Hannabuss have now clocked up their second win on this years Northern & Midlands Circuit putting them in the lead or the Helm & Crew Fleets. With 3 Events to go including both the Northerns @ Elton (24th & 25th September 2016) and the Inland Championships @ Rutland (12th & 13th June 2016) and 4 to count there is still any ones title with Pete Grey and Tom Jeffcoate waiting in the wings.
Richard Jones moves into first place in the Silver fleet, however with club mates Colin Bradley, Terry Flanagan & Ann Whitfield all currently carrying a DNC it should be an interesting battle at the next Northern event on home water @ Pennine (5th June 2016)
The National Scorpion Class Association would like to thank Hollingworth Lake Sailing Club, who are celebrating their 70th Year for a well ran event in what must have been tricky conditions. It was fantastic to visit and we hope to be back next year, hopefully you may have a home boat or two by which time.
With tight racing through the fleet the boats gained a lot of interest and at least one family are already considering a move into the class. Yet again comments were made about what a friendly yet exciting class the Scorpions are.
The next Scorpion event is @ Eastbourne Soveriegn, 28th & 29th of May which compromises as part two of this years South East Championship, as well as Round 3 Of the Silver Scorpion National Series.
We also need to note that the Early Entry for the 56th Scorpion Nationals Championships @ Looe Sailing Club is coming to a close on the 1st of June. So if you are coming this year, get your entry in before then to save £50 on entry
Hope to see you out sailing soon