Northampton Midland Areas 2006 dawned very grey, damp and kinda miserable looking, the breeze was building, but not too much... I eventually got my act together and drove the 40 mins to Northampton SC (Pitsford reservoir) to partake in the first good sail in ages and the last major event of the season..
There were plenty of boats turned up, around 25 (not as many as I'd hoped) from all over the country... Penzance, St.Mary's in Scotland so a good crowd (no one from Wales?) The lineup was impressive,, such rock stars as:
AJ, The Blundells, Rowley, Jeremy Stephens, Woody, Sadler, Salty, Snewin, Ann, Steve, Martin Honnor, Mr.Haighton and Ges 'n Dennis....
Gettin' in the chocolates wasn't gonna be easy! So the custom sausage sandwich and a couple of cups of coffee, the briefing, pay the man some entry-cash and we were off... light force 2-3 everyone ready to rock...
Had an average start...(only managed about 1 excellent start all weekend) and an average beat and ended up doing averagely, 13th...hard-work, fairly crap course (no overtaking lanes) and the race was far too short at around 35 mins, but Woody got a bullet and Tim 'n Slaty were 2nd ...Gggrrr.
Back in (why bloody bother) for "lunch" of a pasty and more coffee and lots of catching up with the guys 'n gals of the fleet and then back out for races 2 and 3.. a bit of relief from listening to Rowley's hamster video on his phone... please don't ask!
Better start, just, and managed to crawl into single figures, the race was a bit longer (40 odd mins) but not long enough and the racing was still far too much of a follow-the-leader, but any way the breeze was decent enough (just) but the racing was really heavy going... when you have a fleet of at least 12-14 really good Ent sailors, just getting into single figures is a challenge and it feels like you have worked your ass of just to make a place...<sigh> Race 4 was more like the right length, breeze was still ok, a little sun shine too if I remmeber correctly, judging the shifts felt difficult in the previous races, but we got our first (and last) top-class start and ended up in the top 5, the air's a lot clearer there and the shifts easier to read! Thjere was a small amount of place changing etc but we ended up with a really pleasing 4th place to finish off Saturdays racing... Jeremy managed to stop Jonny getting 3 bullets, and actually Jonny and Alex had a shocker of a race down in 14th... just proves once you fall out the chocolate box its a bugger to get back in no matter how good you are in the UK Enterprise fleet..
So that was Saturday, boat away, shower, bar... had a few drinks and a really good chilli, chatted about the sailing, chatted about advertising with Salty, chatted about plans for 2007 and generally had a good social time (and more of bloody Rowleys phone hamster)... Steve and Salty, and a few of the girls went to rock Northampton, a few of us went our seperate ways and the rest of the folks drank Northampton SC's bar dry... a good time was had by all...
Sunday morning turned up less misty and more windy; last 2 races of the event lay instore once and I'd caught up with Katie who I havent seen much this season, I blame Birdy... the breakfast baps and coffee had been drunk and the hangovers packed away in the tents, cars and camper-vans of the Enterprise Circus!
So with more breeze we went out to do battle, temperature was in the early teens, its starting to feel a bit like winter Bbrrr, drysuits were out, wooly hats and thermals.... We were promised a couple of decent sized races... we got them, but it was no concilation to us... Race 4 was a standard affair, no real incident, no real accidents just normal sailing stuff... Honnor shouted at us worried we hadnt seen him as he started the beat and we finished the run.. we had, we were well clear, he just worries too much! We manged an 11th, we beat Steve so could be worse!
Last race and we were looking for a good top 10 result to try and move us up to around 8th... we got out early, had a bit of a practice, hung around the starting area and nearly got freakin T-Boned by Honnor and Haighton... WOW it was Very close, they only just saw us (after we shoute) and just managed to bear away under our stern.. brown trousers time!
We had a major crapper... nothing went right, the first beat started well, we were just a few boatlengths adrift of the Blundell's (who eventually won the race), they went into the shore, we tacked back out on a shift, next time we passed they'd gained a good 15 boatlengths on us and that was it..we were into the gaggle of boats and never got out, we sailed (I think) as hard as we blooody could... tacked on shifts, sailed aggresively downwind, but nothing seemed to gain us any ground.. there was no way we were gonna beat our discard (13) so we gave up, retired from the race... I hate doing that you never know whats gonna happen, but so close to the end of the season we decided it wasn't worth ending up arguing and stuff so early bath, boat away and await the final results....
It was a good event, the strength and deapth of the competition was as always a credit to the Enterprise class... jeeze its hard work...
1st Jeremy and Matty Johnson
2nd The Blundell's
3rd Jonathan Woody and Alex Halliwell
4th Tim Sadler and Salty
5th MArtin and Simon Haighton
6th Ges and Dennis
7th AJ and RJ
8th Phil Snewin and Pete Rowley
9th Ann and Alan
10th Ant and James
11th Steve and Richy Adams
So, at the end of it all that was the Midland Area results and as it was the final National Series event we crowned those winners too and deservedly it was (albeit a close thing):
Enterpise National Series winners 2006 :
Jonathan Woody and Alex Halliwell
We ended up 7th I think, one point ahead of Steve Graham :-)