Matt Sharman wins RS300 Inlands at Leigh & Lowton
Despite the forecast for light winds, some of the visitors were well travelled from areas as distant as Portsmouth, Cheddar and Sunderland. Saturday saw a millpond surface to Pennington Flash and the PRO sounding a postponement of the 12noon first race. Around 1.30pm the wind appeared to be filling in so the postponement pennant came down and the fleet launched. After a clean start, the fleet rounded the top mark with local helm Paul Allen in the lead. At the leeward mark Paul was still in the lead with Luke Pepper from Hykenham SC in second place, Matt Sharman from Delph in third and Steve Bolland, current National Champion from Bristol Corinthian fourth. During the second lap Paul surrendered his lead to Luke and by the time the boats crossed the finish line Matt had overtaken Paul as well.
For race two, the wind temporarily improved and the fleet again got away cleanly. For two laps the lead swapped between Paul and Matt with Paul generally holding the beats and Matt taking the downwind legs. However, during their tussles, Leigh & Lowton helm Richard Catchpole was working his way up the fleet and by the finish, had overtaken Paul leaving Matt with the bullet and Paul with another third. By now the wind had decided that it had had enough and after waiting for a while the abandon signal was sounded and racing finished for the day.
Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny and windless. As the sailors treated themselves to breakfast from the galley, the wind started to fill in and the PRO announced his intention to start the first Sunday race on time. Unlike Saturday, the fleet were more eager to get away and the start saw two boats over the line. Tim Keen from Sheffield Viking took the opportunity to return but Alistair took a gamble that it wasn’t him and continued, only to record an OCS at the end of the race. Unfortunately, the wind only held for the first lap with Paul Allen and Matt Sharman trading places around the first lap with Matt holding first place at the end of the lap. By the time the shorten course signal was sounded at the end of the second lap the wind had died away, Matt had maintained his lead and, again, Richard Catchpole had worked through the fleet from fifth after the first lap to take Paul Allen on the final leg from the leeward mark to the finish.
With such an extended race and no wind left, the fleet made its way back to the clubhouse. After lunch, the wind conditions were not improved and the decision was taken to abandon the rest of the racing. With no discards allowed, the final results gave Matt Sharman the championship, with Richard Catchpole taking second place and Paul Allen third.