The 2015 Brass Monkey event at Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club was threatened with postponement due to the severe flooding across the North of England on the eve of the event.
But a bit of rain was never going to put us off and so a decision to go ahead was made, followed by a nervous wait – how many of the 101 entries would turn up for this, the third event of the GJW Direct Sailjuice Winter Series?
On the day there was constant sunshine, but some still had an interesting journey through or around the receding floods. However with 90 entries signing on, from as far away as Stokes Bay, Mountbatten and Oxford, the difficult decision to run the event proved the right one.
After a short postponement to allow some late arrivals to rig, Richard Clayton, the PRO set a trapezoid course over the full length of the reservoir. The fleet was divided into three starts setting off three minutes apart.
With virtually no wind forecast or evident elsewhere across the North, we were happy when the Grimwith efffect delivered a a variable Force 1-2 breeze - which settled into a shifty but generally westerly direction. It did seem to drop slightly as the first fleet of predominantly hiking boats got away under the ‘I’ flag with only a few having to return, and just one OCS . They were quickly followed by the singlehanders and only 6 minutes later the asymmetrics who all started cleanly.
From the first start, Matt Mee / Lucy Yeates (RS200), Steve Walker / Jerry Hannabus (Scorpion), and Oliver Groves/Esther Parkhurst (RS200) soon gained a lead from the GP14s of Ian Dobson / Andy Tunnicliffe and Mark / Sam Platt who were close behind.
In the singlehanders, Keith Byers (OK) and Arran Holman (D-Zero) were the early leaders from a bunch of Lasers led by Oliver Davenport while in the Fast / Asymmetrics, former winners Matt and James Lyons (49er) led from Ian & Callum Escritt (29er), Dave Winder / Ben Rayner's Fireball and a small group of RS400s led by Stuart Holman / Anna Walsh.
With the wind staying light, even the fastest asymmetrics were struggling to make any significant gains into the lead of the earler starters and it was clear the winners would be coming from the slower fleet.
While Mee extended at the front of the fleet - only briefly troubled by the overtaking 49er, Keith Escritt / Andrea Clough (RS200) had recovered from a poor start to overhaul Groves / Parkhurst and the two leading GPs, while close behind, the Enterprises of Matt Velamail / Tim Brownall and Charles & Megan Adams were also gaining ground. In the singlehanders, Graham Tinsley had passed fellow 'navigationally challenged' Laser Davenport and the Byers OK to chase the D-Zeros of Holman and David Summerville.
After an hour of racing and with the 49er doing an extra lap, Mee / Yeates had a good lead and were able to finish in clear air. Walker / Hannabus followed, but had been OCS so Escritt / Clough were second to finish, followed by Groves / Parkhurst, the two battling GPs and the leading 29er.
A sunny (and free) lunch followed with most sitting outside, taking in the glorious Dales scenery in the unseasonally warm and sunny weather. What a difference 24 hours can make! But as the time passed, the diminishing wind died entirely. An hour later the race was due to start but there was no improvement and so the call was made to cancel the last race. The result was to be on the completed race.
After the Great Lakes Handicaps had been applied, Matt Mee and LucyYeates From Hollingworth were worthy winners of the 2015 Brass Monkey in their RS200. Second were Keith Escritt and Andrea Clough from Yorkshire Dales also in an RS200, with Burwain's GP14 World Champions Ian Dobson and Andy Tunnicliffe completing the podium places in third.
The first singlehander was the D-Zero of Arran Holman in 10th holding off Graham Tinsley's Laser in 12th. First of the faster / asymmetric boats was the RS400 of Stuart Halman / Anna Walsh in 13th who beat the 29er of Ian & Callum Escritt's by just 3 seconds on corrected time. First Youths were Oliver Groves and Esther Parkhurst (5th overall) with Will Hide /Tom Squires second (11th overall) – both being from the newly formed Northern RS200 youth squad and showing the value of the coaching they've been getting lately.
The prizegiving was well attended and generously supported by Outlaw Sailing, Rooster, and MSDS - allowing great prizes to be awarded well down the fleet as well as Class prizes for unplaced fleets such as Fireballs, Radials, Solos and Sam Cooper from West Lancs in a Topper who had stuck it out to finish despite the failing breeze.
Commodore Erica Caswell and winning helm Matt Mee both gave good speeches thanking all those who'd organised the event but also those who'd battled through flood waters to make it to the event - it was definitely worth it. As one competitor commented on the sunny deck – where else could you have enjoyed scenery like this, some breeze, good racing, and great grub!
Race report by Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club