It is a truth universally acknowledged that the Byte Class suits lighter sailors. This does not mean that sailors need to diet to be in the class but that they are congenitally thin or small and can therefore eat as much as they wish without fear of consequences. So, once again the Combs SC open race was with us, not so much a race more a sailing and eating event.

Saturday dawned miserably with five Combs sailors and four visitors tucking into bacon, egg and sausage sandwiches. The important business of eating was soon out of the way the competitors were forced grumbling away from the galley and out onto the water for a session of Buddy training. This training was given by Rick Whitehouse and Louis Saunders. All sailors found this useful and informative. Appetites were now whetted for race one. The wind was light but not bad for an inland club like Combs and gave an excellent beat for the length of the lake. Mist covered the hills however and intermittent rain fell.

At the start of race one Rick Whitehouse (Combs) got the better of Louis Saunders and led him away with Louis bouncing around trying to get past but Rick is a wily, experienced sailor and increased his lead still further until half way round lap three, when both boats had a considerable lead over the rest of the fleet. Louis followed Rick round the leeward mark but instead of chasing him out into clear wind to then gybe back towards the next mark he sailed along the edge of a tree induced wind shadow and crept to the mark without the need to gybe. His progress was slow but the tactic worked leaving Rick to round behind him. Once in the lead Louis sailed to the finish and won from Rick followed over by Jenn Lamb.

Now the ever hungry competitors sprinted to the clubhouse and lunch. Lunch was a Lasagne produced (with special gourmet tweaks) by Dr. Whitehouse, with salad and garlic bread. The satisfied customers now satiated strolled back to the diminutive boats and prepared to contest race two.

Black clouds were now drifting from behind Ladder Hill at the back of the water and with them more substantial gusts. Louis led away chased by Rick and they battled round with Louis getting the better of Rick. I had now joined the race in a borrowed boat and on a downwind leg one of those gusts came through causing the main body of the fleet to accelerate towards the mark in a flurry of spray. I turned left to avoid what looked like approaching carnage and rounded a considerable distance below only to be greeted by Combs Members Alex Bowden and Jenn Lamb upside down together, synchronised swimming! It was that kind of day! Louis went on to win followed by Rick and Maggie Futcher.

Race three saw more consistent wind and Rick took full advantage leading Louis round the course to take a good win. Alex Bowden sailed comfortably into third.

That was it for day one so boats were packed away, tea and a little snack while waiting for the pub where a table was booked. An excellent meal in the Beehive Combs Village (to be recommended) where there was much jollity.

Sunday morning was as good as it gets at Combs. Wind was straight down the lake and the sky was clear blue. Bacon, egg and sausage sandwiches again with lashings of tea while sitting on the balcony gazing at the green hills. Boats were rigged, their colourful sails contrasting against the hills.

Race four began with Rick fast off the line in front of Louis but judicious playing of the shifts got Louis ahead and he was able to lead Rick for the rest of the race. Third was Jenn Lamb. This meant that Louis had already won the event with Rick second but behind them things were very close making the final race important for the overall result.

In race five Rick chose the best end of the line, leaving Louis to tangle with the main fleet, he then sped away to a fine win. Louis made it through to second with Jenn third beating Alex Bowden into fourth by one point.

Byte racing complete club racing began. Lunch was served consisting of bacon quiche and home made cake. No one seemed in a great hurry to leave and the visitors loafed in the sunshine before setting off home. One has to let ones lunch settle.

It had been a great weekend with fierce, competitive sailing and good food. The next open is at Chew Valley on September 27th. Let us see a good fleet out for that one.

1st Louis Saunders (Combs SC) 1,1,(2),1,2, 5pts
2nd Richard Whitehouse (Combs SC) 2,(2),1,2,1, 6pts
3rd Jenn Lamb (Combs SC) 3,(6),4,4,3, 14pts
4th Alexandria Bowden (Combs SC) (6),5,3,3,4, 15pts
5th Rachael Moore (Weston SC) 5,4,(8),5,5, 19pts
6th Maggie Futcher (Weston SC) 4,3,(7),7,6, 20pts
7th Gary Hogan (Emberton Park SC) (8),7,5,6,7, 25pts
8th Angela Oakley (Haversham SC) 7,(8),6,8,8, 29pts
9th John Saunders (Combs SC) dns, 9,9,9,dns, 45pts