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There was a great turnout of 45 Contenders for the end of season Inland Championships making up the final round of The Boat Bits Travellers series. With the Worlds at the Olympic venue in Weymouth next year it was good to see quite a few new faces in the fleet giving the old lags a good run.

 

Saturday afternoon saw a bright and sunny force 3 as the fleet slipped effortlessly over the line for the first general recall of the weekend. With the black flag now up it was a tight jostle on the port biased line with few getting away cleanly. First to show, using all his experience, was Ben Mcgrane with a gaggle of good starters close behind, including Martin Frary and John Browett. It was nip and tuck all the way round with the wind proving patchy. At the last leeward mark McGrane lead from Frary, now with Stuart Jones in third having recovered from a mediocre start. In true comedy fashion Frary and then Mcgrane laid the mast down during tacks leaving Jones to win it by default. A damp Frary still managed second with Browett claiming third from Mcgrane and Nick Grace.

 

The wind had eased off a touch for the second race and again it was the good port end starters that lead up the beat. The lead was regularly swapped as the lifts, headers, gusts and lulls turned a touch random. Mcgrane, Browett, Grace and Matt Aston eased away as a group each having a go at the front. At the finish Grace slipped past on the run to claim a win with Aston, Mcgrane and Browett in a close cluster just moments behind. Jones pulled up to fifth from someway down.

 

The third race got off first time in semi crouching trapeze conditions. Again the start was tricky as displayed by Grace trying to sail off with the pin end attached and Jones laying it down on a tack on the line, neither figured near the front this time. The wind continued to ease as the racing went on with the right deemed to be paying. Frary claimed the win with Aston again in second. Sea sailors Alan Orton and Pete Dives gleefully followed up having taken their chances when they came. Browett and Mcgrane were tucked in just behind, who along with overnight leader Aston were about the only consistent front runners.

 

The clocks did their bit and so did some beers. Sunday arrived with a certain glassines to the lake and an atmospheric autumn mist. Things improved and the first start went off pretty well on time to be followed shortly by the second black flag attempt. A few were standing out on the line but those that weren’t semi trapezed to the first mark. Mcgrane again got off to a good start and led at the first closely followed by Aston. New boy, Alex Knight, along with Browett were close behind. These four pulled out a good lead and split up into two pairs closely covering each other. On the last triangle the wind went very light, all but disappearing. The leading four extended the gap to be miles ahead. Mcgrane took it from the consistent Aston with Knight, in only his second open, holding off Browett. The rest of the fleet very slowly dribbled in. Jones wasn’t fifth due to the black flag so Keith Paul was best of the rest with Frary just behind.

 

With movement all but impossible and the forecast proving true, racing was over for the day. Therefore, Matt Aston, narrowly retained his Inland Championship from Ben Mcgrane, who was competing in only his third meeting. Stuart Jones kept the travellers trophy which was just as well as it was already safely at home.

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