THE late afternoon start, a low tide and mild winds gave a recipe for some skilful sailing in Fiddlers Ferry Sailing Club’s Hillfoot Shield.
In these conditions the smaller boats at FFSC rather than the more powerful falcon fleet had the advantage.
Thirteen boats trawled the line at the start so conditions were crowded making it difficult to make a clean start and as the starting signal went off a number of boats were over the line and had to be recalled.
The first leg was just over one mile away against the incoming tide, therefore progress was painfully slow.
It was difficult to say who had taken the lead at this stage as no one boat had gained dominance over the situation.
For just over one and a half hours the fleet struggled to complete the next three marks, and then the wind started to fill in again.
The first boat GP 14 Skippy of Ian Scouler appeared out of the crowed fleet, followed by two lasers and an Albacore and the race was on with a clear leader to chase. Unfortunately the wind went as quickly as it came but the position of the breakaway group remained the same.
Officer of the day Ken Southall made the correct decision to shorten the course and the appropriate signal made to the fleet which meant that the next mark would be the last one and then return to the finishing line.
The final mark was Coopers Folly situated by the Ferry Inn, some one mile from the previous mark and a quarter mile from the finish line.
Skippy remained in the lead, but this was being reduced by the Lasers of Simon Lowe and Ernie Griffiths who were closing fast against the slower GP 14, which was hanging on.
All the boats rounded Coopers Folly within seconds of each other, now being joined by the Albacore of veteran sailor Dave Irving.
The final leg to the line was great to watch as it still remained unclear as to whether the GP14 could hold on to its lead.
Just when it looked likely the Lasers would take the lead the GP 14 caught a breeze, giving it a boost and it crossed the line some 10 seconds before the next boat, the Laser of Simon Lowe, then followed seven seconds later by Ernie Griffiths in his Laser.
The race for the leading boats lasted two hours 35minutes and it was a further 30 minutes before the final boat crossed the line.
Conditions decided the outcome, and Skippy proved to be a worthy winner, an enjoyable day for those watching but very frustrating for those sailing, but then that’s the joy of sailing – no two sessions are the same.
Thanks to safety team, the starting team and everyone who turned out.
The next race is the Shiloh Decanter on May 17 and Push the Boat Out Day on May 18.
The Hillfoot Shield result: 1, Skippy GP14 Helm Ian Scouler; 2, 186534 Laser Helm Simon Lowe; 3, 113966 Laser Helm Ernie Griffiths.