Busy mark round at the Shotwick Open Photo Credit Gareth Henshall

Gaz Henshall GBR185, event winner reports:

On April 24th event 1 of the 2016 Northern Tour took place at Shotwick Lake SC.

9 D-Zero’s descended onto the small like in the anticipation of a full days racing in medium to heavy winds.

Upon arrival the wind was very light and it appeared the forecast could have been wrong, but as the start time for race 1 approached it gradually increased and by the time boats were hitting the water a steady 15 knots had settled in and there were no signs of it letting up. The first race was due to kick off at 11am and a decidedly complex course had been devised by the Race Officer just to keep everyone on their toes.

Race 1
A clean start made by the fleet started off a short sprint to the first mark. This was followed by a very short leg to a gybe mark which lead the fleet onto the longest leg of the course, a deep reach the length of the lake. Some very close battles were already forming at this stage, I (Gaz Henshall) managed to get a couple of boat lengths ahead closely followed by the rest of the fleet. Short beats and lots of reaching meant a very tiring race, the one rest of the course was a short run which only seemed to last 30secs a lap. The word that came to mind for the course was relentless.
A good battle between Dave Woods and Jeremy Cooper for 2nd place was taking place with them switching positions back and forth. A missed shift by Dave gave Jeremy a couple of boat lengths advantage but Dave was able to rectify his mistake and claim the 2nd place spot back along the lengthy reach. I came home to take the win, Dave held onto 2nd sport with Jeremy close behind in 3rd place. Time for some well deserved lunch.

Race 2
Race two kicked off at 13:10 on the same course, another race of a lot of hiking. As with race 1 the fleet was very well behaved and all started on the right side of the line. The wind was even higher for this race which made the gybe mark very interesting with sailors having various levels of success. I think the phrase “A dry gybe is a good gybe” was apt for the 2nd race. I lead around mark 1 again and never relinquished the lead, but was closely chased by Dave for all of the race with Ben Ratcliffe also hunting him down. A dropped tiller by me at a windward mark closed the gap right down and the race was on. It was now survival of the fittest. I held on for a second win, Dave in 2nd and Ben took 3rd in race too. Pulling the boats up the beach was now becoming increasing difficult on tired legs.

Race 3
After an overwhelming agreement by the fleet the race officer was convinced to shorten the final race to just 30mins and 6 boats hit the water to fight it out for overall positions. Race 3 started in the same fashion race 2 did, but this time Jeremy had recovered from a not so fast 2nd race and was hot on the heels of Dave & I fighting it out at the front. Due to some very tired legs this race turned more into a procession with myself leading, Dave following and Jeremy not far behind. A knot in my main sheet caused me to spin out on a very tight reach and allowed Dave to pass taking over the lead, he just had to not make a mistake and the final race would be his for the taking. It is often said that the winner of a race is the person who makes the least mistakes and unfortunately for Dave this came very true as the corner of his boat clipped a windward mark closely followed by some choice words and a penalty turn. This gave me back the lead and I just had to hold on for one more lap. Doing just that and taking the win in the final race of the day, Dave came 2nd again and Jeremy rounded out the top 3.

Ashore there were some very battered and bruised bodies, even rolling the sails felt like hard work at this stage. After a short wait the sailors crawled (felt like it) into the club house for the prize giving. Gaz Henshall taking the overall win (perhaps the home advantage helped), Dave Woods finishing 2nd with Jeremy Cooper discarding Race two finished 3rd.

Overall a good days racing with some closely fought positions. Personally I definitely need to invest in a new pair of hikers as they are only just about held together now, yes they are even worse than they were at last years Inlands. Thanks to everyone who helped out with the day and to the visitors for making the journey to the lake. Bring on event Two in Largs on 21st/22nd May.

For anyone who is interested there are still a few spaces left on the Pwllheli training. I will be coaching on the Saturday from a RIB and on the Sunday joining the sailors in my own D-Zero with my Dad doing some safety cover. if you are interested please contact me on for more details.

Suffering today in penance for a great days sailing and racing. Looking forward to next year. – Dave Woods, GBR175

Full Results:


Rank SailNo Club HelmName R1 R2 R3 Nett
1st 185 Shotwick Lake SC Gareth Henshall (1.0) 1.0 1.0 2.0
2nd 175 Rossendale Valley SC Dave Woods (2.0) 2.0 2.0 4.0
3rd 202 Shotwick Lake SC Jeremy Cooper 3.0 (5.0) 3.0 6.0
4th 201 Shotwick Lake SC Andrew Jones (4.0) 4.0 4.0 8.0
5th 113 Scammonden Water SC Ben Ratcliffe 6.0 3.0 (10.0 DNF) 9.0
6th 182 Rossendale Valley SC Michael Green (8.0) 6.0 5.0 11.0
7th 151 Shotwick Lake SC Mark Heaton 5.0 (10.0 DNS) 10.0 DNC 15.0
8th 154 Shotwick Lake SC Ian Posting 7.0 (10.0 DNS) 10.0 DNC 17.0
9th 67 Shotwick Lake SC John Cheslett (10.0 DNF) 10.0 DNS 10.0 DNC 20.0