The title 'resurgent class' could aptly have been applied to the Bytes this weekend where 20 sailors, a vast increase in numbers over last year, met at Haversham for their Inland Championships. What great racing it was when enthusiastic youth met experienced campaigners! Thanks must also to go to John Banbrook from Bowmoor sailing club where he recognised the advantages of the Byte and promoted it within the club. The presence of these skilled and enthusiastic youngsters has increased turnouts and lured some of the older more experienced sailors out and into this diverse fleet. Over the weekend there must have been a fifty year age gap between the youngest and the oldest as well as a mix of male/female helms. All this made for close, exciting and unpredictable racing, and what exiting sailing it was as the sun shone down on the clear water of Haversham lake.

On Saturday the wind was light and fluky where finding clear air became an important factor, when for the leading break away boats a mistake would put them back into the pack snapping at their heels! On Sunday the wind increased and was more predictable giving some exciting planning reaches. These conditions sufficiently diverse to test the abilities and experience of all the entrants.

Haversham certainly did the fleet proud with relaxed but efficient race management by Gordon Tweddle and his team, fabulous catering, good camping and cheap beer (soft drinks for the younger sailors!).

Race one saw very twitchy winds with the starboard end of the line favoured but due to a bend in the wind further down the course port end starters fared better as they proceeded down the lake. Rick Whitehouse (Combs) had started at the starboard end but found himself in a battle with Ryan Bush (Bristol Corinthian) and Mike Radford (West Oxford) as they approached the windward mark. Ryan had an altercation with another competitor which saw him drop back into the hungry pack! Mike rounded the mark in first chased by Rick and Andrew Sant (Combs). First and second place frequently swapped in some close tactical racing with Rick quicker up wind and Mike superior down. Andrew maintained his position making it Mike, Rick, Andrew and Charlie Sanson (Bowmoor) in fourth.

Race two saw Ryan start fast and maintain his lead in clear air while after another complex tactical battle Mike got ahead of Rick for second place. Andrew sailed a great race in clear air behind the leaders but in front of the squabbling pack! At the line it was Ryan, Rick and Mike chased home by Andrew in fourth.

Race three saw Rick quick off the line and making the most of stronger clear air reached the windward mark with a healthy lead chased by a flying Ryan who had tangled with the fleet on lap one. He was quick to shake off the bulk of sailors but Andrew put up a great defence and kept him back for a full lap but after Ryan dealt with Andrew he caught Rick who had to employ all his considerable skill to defend his position at the Gybe marks. However Rick did defend and crossed the line in front of Ryan who was followed home by Mike and again Andrew.

This was the end of day one and everyone needed a rest to recover from an intense day of racing. Fluid and food was applied courtesy of the bar (soft drinks for the younger sailors) and Newport Pagnel's Fish and Chip shop, Indian and Chinese takeaways.

After 3 races if one calculated the discards Rick, Ryan and Mike were all on three points so the podium was there to play for.

Sunday saw more wind which was less variable giving solid gusts which provided great planning conditions.

The 20 boats started cleanly in a good wind with some extreme hiking on the short first tack. Rick was narrowly ahead of Ryan who tactically tacked below him and just tagged his rudder. Ryan duly did his turns but this put him back into the hungry, snapping pack and despite his effort it took time to clear them, in spite of this he fought back in to third place behind Mike. At the close it was Rick from Mike followed by Ryan and Stu Moore (Weston).

Race five saw Ryan with blistering performance lead from the line with Rick following. The gap between these two opened and closed as the race proceeded with Jenn Lamb (Combs) chasing hard in clear air. At the bell it was Ryan from Rick followed by Jenn, having sailed a great but lonely race, with Mike home in fourth.

Now for the final, and deciding race. It was for Rick or Ryan to win, Mike having dropped back slightly on points and needing Ryan and Rick to crash out if he was to have a chance! Rick was quickest off the line and led Ryan to the windward mark but Ryan was super fast downwind and his speed was such that on one reach he gained a 50 yard lead! However Rick, the old master, was quick up wind and took that distance back. On the last beat both sailors chose different tactics to cope with oncoming club boats and at the windward mark Rick came in on mark on starboard forcing Ryan to tack inside and loop behind. This gave Rick a small lead which he held until the final mark which both boats rounded together. Ryan footed off for speed then tacked for the line, Rick followed suit and both of the raced for the line neck and neck! Neither sailor knew who won until shouts from the shore. In fact Rick took it by 3"! Emily made it to third and Charlie a good fourth.

This was two days of exiting and intense racing where youth tackled experience head on. I am sure that Ryan would not object to my saying that he is only 15 years old whereas Rick is errr... almost four times that! It was a pity that anyone had to lose, and by four inches, after such an epic battle! But there were great performances throughout the fleet with younger sailors tackling their more experienced opponents. Seven of the sailors were ladies with Emily Watson taking the ladies trophy and fourth place overall as a reward for her consistent performance. Ryan of course as well as being second was awarded the junior trophy.

The next event is at Carsington on June 19th and if it is anything like the Inlands then sparks will fly again. Following on from that on July 9th is The Nationals at Castle Cove where Louis Saunders will be back in the mix promising real electricity! Unfortunately the Nationals entry is closed at twenty boats. There is now a waiting list for the event such has been the explosive popularity of the Byte class recently.

Overall Results

 Pos Helm   Sail No  R1  R2  R3 R4  R5  R6  Pts
1 Rick Whitehouse 3561 2 3 1 1 2 1 7
2 Ryan Bush 891 8 1 2 3 1 2 9
3 Mike Radford 3562 1 2 3 2 4 5 12
4 Emily Watson 3583 5 6 5 6 6 3 25
5 Andrew Sant 1677 3 4 4 13 10 8 29
6 Jenn Lamb 3301 9 7 10 8 3 7 34
7 Charlie Sanson 3593 4 14 15 5 7 4 34
8 Stu Moore 867 11 10 6 4 5 16 36
9 Matthew Banbrook 3584 10 9 16 7 9 6 41
10 Rachel Moore 3577 17 8 9 9 8 9 43
11 Alan Roberts 1 12 5 7 10 11 16 45
12 Christian Conlan 2943 6 15 8 11 12 11 48
13 Nicki Fisher 3557 7 11 17 16 13 21 64
14 Chris Rees 2620 14 13 14 12 15 21 68
15 Gary Hogan 2623 16 12 13 14 17 14 69
16 Zoe Bazen 3588 13 17 11 20 21 10 71
17 Olly Cooke 3591 19 19 12 15 14 12 72
18 Angela Oakley 3572 15 16 18 17 16 21 82
19 Tom Cooke 3568 18 18 19 18 19 15 88
20 Harriet East 1433 20 20 20 19 21 21 100