First Visit to Girton


It’s not often that a class gets a first time at anything, particularly a class that has been around for eighty years, but on Sunday 17th April , British Moths sailed their first open at a Nottinghamshire club. A bright and chilly morning greeted the eight competitors, four of whom had travelled up the day before. Girton welcomed them all.

With a light west-north westerly wind, sunshine, a large unknown body of water and a first beat from the southeast, race one promised some interesting sailing. Toby Cooper (Broxbourne SC) and Simon Hall (Maidenhead SC) led from the pin end of the line, closely followed by the rest of the fleet. Cooper was ahead rounding the first mark, with Abby Freeley (Hunts SC) sneaking up into second. By the end of the first lap, Cooper and Freeley had opened up a commanding lead, leaving the other Moths behind to battle for the minor placings.

Tricky conditions near the clubhouse tested the competitors. Places changed on each lap, but the skills of Colin Hall (Hunts SC), Freeley and Cooper saw them separate from the fleet. Cooper took first line honours, followed by Freeley and Colin Hall.

A hearty lunch was consumed, as the competitors prepared themselves for the hard graft of the afternoon’s two back-to-back races.

A change in wind direction over lunch meant a change of course. Cooper, showing his usual skill, lead from the fleet with another clean start, and was never headed. Behind him, the next three places appeared to be decided, but a temporary lull in the wind meant that Simon Hall managed to slip past Freeley on the last leg to take second. A salutary lesson for any sailor – despite having been led around the course by a lead boat, Collin Hall and Gary Tompkins (Hunts SC) managed not to notice that they had rounded a wrong mark, and were subsequently disqualified. It pays to take notice of the course!

Cooper, already assured first place, elected not to contest the third. With Jennifer Bentley (Maidenhead SC) also not starting, and boat problems causing Tompkins to start nearly a lap behind everyone else, it was a depleted but still eager fleet that took to the water for the last race of the day. Brisker wind conditions got the boats up on the plane before the start. Freeley, still on form, gained an early lead down the port side of the course, pulling away from the rest. The two Halls, behind her in the minor placings, were determined to keep ahead of the rest of the fleet. Despite rounding the wrong leeward mark and being forced to rectify her error (see race two!), Freeley did not lose her lead. She crossed the line first, followed by Colin Hall and Simon Hall.

After results were totalled, Toby Cooper was confirmed as the inaugural Girton Open winner. Abby Freeley, with her good form, was a definite second, and with both the Halls on equal placings after the third race, Colin’s second race disqualification gave Simon Hall third.