Conditions could not have been more perfect for the opening race of the BOD season. Eight teams came to the line in glorious warm sunshine and a great, if slightly puffy, sea breeze.
As the boats came under starters orders off Bateman’s Tower is was clear it was going to be a closely fought race. Off the line Storm Petrel, helmed by Alan Hicks with Jayne and Craig Bond crewing, just lead Egret, helmed by Danny Fox with Tim Hearn and Bob Hedger crewing) with White Spirit (Mark White, Dick Stephens and Georgian White) and Bidi (Colin Willett, Ray Newman and James Willett) in close contentions quickly breaking off into a leading group as they set off on the mainly port tack beat to Beach. Meanwhile Jumbo II (Tom Sergeant and Tracy Tierney), Gelasma (Mike and Ann and Ed Howson), Blue Peter (Judith and Adrian Gibbons and Tom Quilligan) and Grethe (Celia Charlton, Fiona Brown and David Charlton) were forming a second battle group just astern of the leading bunch.
As they came past the entrance to Brightlingsea Creek Egret got ahead of Storm Petrel in what was to be the first move in a spectacular dog fight between the two boats. White Spirit and Bidi hung in there but could not quite match the pace of the leading pair not matter how hard they tried.
Coming into the line Storm Petrel and Egret were still separated by just a matter of inches with Storm Petrel claiming victory by just 3 seconds. White Spirit crossed the line in third with Bidi fourth.
For Celia Charlton at the helm of Grethe this was not only her first time helming a BOD, but also her first race on the helm for almost 30 years. Although cautious at the start, Celia quickly settled in on the first beat and by staying right of the main fleet and taking a nice big lift she was able to sail around Jumbo II, Gelasma and Blue Peter to round in fifth place. There were quite a few firsts happening in Grethe as Fiona was crewing her own boat as middle man for the first time and Dave, who has previously helmed Grethe a couple of times, found himself in the very unfamiliar territory of point man. Despite her crew’s occasional mark rounding fumbles Celia sailed a great race to finish in fifth and she certainly gave Colin and the Bidi team something to worry about at times. Dave and Celia have been lent Blue Peter for Pyefleet Week so we can expect good things from them.
Still a little cautious after their swimming exploits last season, Tom and Tracy elected not to hoist the spinnaker on Jumbo II but none the less managed to stay in contention with the rest of the fleet. On the line Blue Peter was sixth, Gelasma seventh and Jumbo II eighth.
We were also thrilled to see Richard White and Mary White out in the start area sailing C26 Krystina. Richard tells us they hope to be out racing for Pyefleet Week and some of the other major events this season.
Big thanks must go to Nick Readings and Marilyn Hempstead for their sterling work as Race Officers!
Next up on the BOD Programme is Cormorant Cup 1 next Sunday 25 May with a 14.10 start from the BSC line, and as always we can expect a good showing from the BODs on Thursday night too.
Photos courtesy of Marilyn Hempstead.