Well that was a surprising Sunday for the Bytes! After a blast of a Nationals at Weston recently the next event was meant to be an open at Haversham Sailing Club near Milton Keynes but due to severe weed problems this was cancelled. All was not lost however because nearby Emberton Park Sailing Club stepped into the breach and offered the use of their weed free water.

A small fleet of Bytes turned up to challenge four local boats and found Emberton to be a small gravel pit with an island and randomly distributed clumps of trees. It all looked very interesting particularly the extraordinary weed clearing machine lurking nearby use of which had made the open possible. As boats were rigged helms attempted to estimate wind direction, or indeed strength but these calculations proved impossible and tea driven meditation seemed more appropriate.

After a briefing the Officer and his assistants rowed the short distance to the island and set up camp in the starters hut next to a picturesque wooden shed and a sprinkling of geese. Race one began off a short line and eight boats sailed the short distance into the narrow gap between a headland and the end of the island. Rick Whitehouse was away first and through the gap followed by an indeterminate gaggle of boats. This was real close quarter racing with very little room round the first windward? mark. The fleet then set off towards the next mark at the end of the small thin island with Rick well ahead and Louis Saunders chasing. At this mark there was an interesting choice, either to sail round the far end of the island and out into the main area of the lake or to retrace your steps back to the previous gap. Rick chose the end of the island so Louis sailed back to the gap, with a few gybes, tacks and running's aground on the way. As Rick planed past the infamous gap on a good gust Louis popped out behind him and chased him to the next mark. Things were even more complicated because the club menagerie fleet were starting now and met Louis going the other way through the gap! Anyway Rick seemed to master the extraordinary wind conditions and pulled away from Louis to take race one with Rob Bell from Emberton in third.

Race two was sailed back to back although since it was such a short distance back to the club house many local sailors chose to do that. The course was changed a little so that there was less congestion but the first very restricted mark was still there. This time Louis was away first and tacked through the gap, clearing the first mark and sailing away with Rick chasing. That first mark proved interesting on lap two however when the bulk of the fleet arrived together with little bullets of wind shooting in from everywhere. Andrew Sant of Combs managed to sail round the gaggle of boats and just clear the buoy ahead, when he promptly fell in with a resounding plop. This made no difference however because at that point there was zero wind. He righted the boat and was taken away on a little gust leading the group. Louis was getting the hang of it all now and sailed to the win with Rick behind him and Nicky Fisher of Emberton in third.

An excellent lunch followed while the visiting helms sat looking bemused by the events of the morning. Rain now began to fall depressing the wind somewhat. I was now spectating from the dry clubhouse which gave a view out through the 'gap' and into the lake. Apparently Rick had found himself a perfect starting position on the line, as the bell went he powered away full of confidence and enthusiasm, until he ran hard aground going from a great start to the back of the fleet! This meant that Louis led away and maintained his lead to the end. From my vantage point boats could be seen beating back down the lake with crews full hiked only to sail into the gap where there was no logic and chaos reigned. Louis now powered away to a good win lapping a couple of boats on the way. Rick recovered and sailed through into second with Rob Bell in third.

Boats were packed away and generous prizes were given. Everyone was grateful that Emberton Park had stepped in to make this interesting and challenging open possible. The Bytes were given a great welcome into this friendly club, the catering was great and the race management excellent. A good open race series should include all types of sailing and Emberton was certainly at one end of the spectrum! "Those who the Gods wish to destroy they first turn mad". Obviously they have it in for the Byte class!

Next event is Combs SC in Derbyshire on September 12-13 for training and racing. Combs could be considered the home of the Byte Class these days so this event is one not to miss.

Overall Results:

1st Louis Saunders (Combs Sailing Club)
2nd Richard Whitehouse (Combs Sailing Club)
3rd Rob Bell (Emberton Park Sailing Club)
4th Nicki Fisher (Emberton Park Sailing Club)
5th Andrew Sant (Combs Sailing Club)
6th Gary Hogan (Emberton Park Sailing Club)
7th Silvio Tigano (Emberton Park Sailing Club)
8th Gill Toosey (Emberton Park Sailing Club)