Even with the start delayed in the hope that the forecast drop in the wind speed might materialise, conditions remained challenging and half the small fleet failed to complete the course in the first race.
Initial victim was Ryan Buchanan, sailing his brother’s RS300 for only the third time. Capsizes at the first gybe mark meant he was soon heading back to the club, followed by the RS 400 of Chris Rowsell and Peter King, and the Solo of Mike Dicker.
But the remaining competitors revelled in the conditions, with Stu Denyer (Laser Radial) opening out a good lead.
Malcolm Buchanan (Solo) gained valuable seconds risking – and surviving – the final gybe at Quay mark, gustiest part of the course, while the others took the safer option of tacking round. And although Buchanan finished second, the Solo’s handicap took him to a comfortable first place, with Stu Denyer second and Warwick Hoddy and John Denyer (2000) third.
Those were the final positions again in the second race of the day. But this time Buchanan got off to a flying start, and with Stu Denyer briefly knocked flat at the first mark the Solo sailor led the others home both on the water and on handicap.
With two wins already in the series, and second and third places in the other races, Malcolm Buchanan leads comfortably and even with two more days of racing to come is in a very strong position to take the trophy.
Behind him, though, plenty of competitors are in with a chance of prizes. Races nine and ten are scheduled for Saturday, January 24.
Merlin Rocket Royalty in the form of a brace of Warrens and 2015 sailor of the year Nick Craig joined the fast handicap fleet for the opening day of the 39th edition of Chichester Yacht Club’s Snowflake series. Remarkably, at least three (and possibly four) in this year’s event took part in the inaugural races back in 1976.
In the first race, the Merlins dominated – with the Frensham pair of Craig and Alan Roberts taking the spoils over Shoreham’s Sophie Mackley and James Warrren with William Warren and Mark Oakley third.
In the medium fleet, Hayling’s James and Anne Gardiner, having swopped their RS400 for a Graduate while Anne recovers from shoulder surgery, claimed top spot over CYC’s Lucy Boreham in her Europe with the home club’s Charlie Porter third.
In the slow fleet it was the clash of the Mirrors with Sally Lorimer and Pippa Jones from Warsash taking the honours over Itchenor’s Archie and Will Grant with CYC’s Isabel Porter in third.
After a delay to the start of the second race, the fast fleet was dominated by Craig and Roberts, though this time the Merlin stranglehold was broken with Hayling’s David and Fiona Sayce taking second in their Fireball, with Mackley and Warren displaced to third.
In the medium fleet’s second race, top spot was a duel between two of the 1976 originals, Nick Peters from Hayling and CYC’s Mark Harper, with the former taking the laurels while Felpham’s Guy Mayger was third.
In the slow fleet, it ended up a Mirror match race, with the Grants victorious over Lorimer and Jones.
Standings (after two races): Fast Handicap 1 Nick Craig & Alan Roberts (Frensham Pond SC); 2 Sophie Mackley & James Warren (Shoreham SC); 3 David & Fiona Sayce (Hayling Is SC). Medium Handicap 1 Nick Peters (Hayling Is SC); 2 Ritchie Bailey (Emsworth SC); 3 Lucy Boreham (Chichester YC). Slow Handicap 1 Archie & Will Grant (Itchenor SC); 2 Sophie Lorimer & Pippa Jones (Warsash SC); 3 Isabel Porter (Chichester YC).