In a baptism of fire, Fitzsimmonds set off for his first sail in a solid F4, crossing the line 5 minutes before the 1st gun, upside down and drifting in the wrong direction. The rest of the fleet tussled it out for the first race, with Dave Gorringe demonstrating that righting moment is everything, leading all the way around.
By Race 2, wind against tide had developed into serious chop and Tim ‘Garvino’ Garvin noticed, when upside down, some slightly frayed rope, giving him an ideal excuse for an early doughnut. This was also Nick Orman’s last race of the day, limping off with suspected broken ribs and terror of his partner set free amongst the stores of Lymington. Nick Simmons’ devastating speed at the recent UK Nationals seemed to have deserted him, but his breast stroke was considerably improved.
The attrition rate continued into Race 3, where Simon Heusen led initially before stopping to inspect his hull whilst negotiating the graveyard of upturned RS400s and mixed fast handicappers. Giles Chipperfield’s superior downwind speed (and the fact that practically everyone else had now gone home) saw him win this last race of the day. Overnight, Gorringe led by one point from Chipperfield.
Sunday dawned bright and sunny, and the team were able to get into character for the forthcoming Gold Cup at Travemunde by partaking of excellent sausage sandwiches at Lymington Town before heading out to do battle on the mogul field of Mount Solent.
The Race Officer and his team set another spot-on course, and banged off the first race right on time. Heusen nailed the start, tacking off to the shore and led at the first mark with only 5 boat lengths separating the first 4 boats. Numerous place changing throughout, with tactics coming into the fore. Gorringe ground his way to first upwind showing superior height and speed, but Chipperfield overtook on the final downwind leg to claim the win and leave the series tied for the lead after 4 races
In the 5th race in was Simmons’ turn to claim the perfect committee boat start, shutting out his good friend Gorringe. Nonetheless, Gorringe’s upwind speed saw him dominating by the windward mark. Garvino brought up the tail-end of a closely-packed fleet, discovering that the Solent’s spring tide was stronger than that experienced on Queen Mary reservoir. Chipperfield once again slipped into the lead downwind and, as the course was shortened, a gybing duel for the inside track saw him the last man standing.
With tide building, waves increasing and exhaustion setting in the final race began. Youngster Simmons regained his Nationals mojo, overtaking Chipperfield practicing for the freestyle medley to take the win.
The Lymington Musketeers took the first 3 places, leaving Chipperfield with the cup, Gorringe with the saucer, and Simmons narrowly snatching the coveted teaspoon from Heuson on countback.
The smiling slipway team took over from the busy rescue team, greeting the overwhelmed sailors with very welcome tea and doughnuts. Everyone had enjoyed a truly full-on experience and fabulous regatta – thank you Lymington Clubs: we will return next year. We wish the fleet well at the Gold Cup.