Friday, 20 July 2012

Lakes Classic 2012.

Well almost unbelievably it's a year since I attended the Lakes Classic OCSG meet hosted by Ullswater Yacht Club in the Lake District. Happily the event was scheduled to go ahead again this year over the middle weekend in July and so I found myself loaded up and driving south down the M74 on Friday morning. I'd arranged to meet Andy at UYC for a first sail on Friday afternoon.
I arrived bang on schedule at 1PM to find Andy already in situ with his tent pitched in the small yacht club camping field. After a quick bite to eat, a cup of tea and offloading my canoe we set off for our first sail of the weekend. Initially we headed north to Pooley Bridge but I was feeling uneasy sailing my canoe without outriggers with a new mainsheet jammer fitted (I found myself close to capsize on a couple of occasions due to having accidentally cleated off the sheet).

 We sailed back to UYC and I hastily fitted my outriggers before we set off sailing again (in the opposite direction this time). We followed the western shore of the lake southwards towards Howtown Bay.
We passed some desirable looking lakeside properties.
Andy was keen to make the most of the weekend's sailing as it was to be his final trip in his canoe Delpha 3 (which he was due to sell the week after the meet).
 Despite the gloomy skies the rain stayed away as we ran downwind in a decent breeze.
Atmospheric views of the lakeland fells opened up to the south.
Once we'd rounded the corner at Skelly Nab the wind became incredibly flukey so we decided to turn around and head back to the club to see who else had arrived.
When we got back Adrian was out sailing his ketch rigged canoe in the evening sunshine.
 Lots of familiar faces had arrived from all over the country while we'd been out sailing and the camping field had started to fill up. We got changed and cooked dinner outside Andy's tent (tormented by a surprising number of midgies). After eating we all walked down to the clubhouse where we assembled on the veranda for a few drinks. The midgies were less of an issue there than they had been under the trees in the camping field.
 L-R, me, Adam, Joyce,Andy, Dave and Graham.
Walter and Joyce.
Later on the bar opened so we moved inside and chatted over some beers as more folks arrived. 
On Saturday morning Keith (who was organising the meet) called the usual 10 AM meeting and safety brief at the lakeside. 
As the pictures show there was hardly any wind so almost everyone set off to paddle and sail towards Aira Point where there's a nice cafe.
I took advantage of the conditions to have a lie down for a while!
As we progressed slowly south the wind dropped even more and everyone resorted to paddling, it became clear that it would take ages to reach Aira Point so we landed at Sandwick for a rest (and a picnic for those who had brought lunch).
As has become customary, Adam caught up on reading his newspaper!
After lunch the party split with some deciding to continue on and others (including me) opting to take advantage of a light breeze that had picked up and sail back to the yacht club. Once we arrived back the wind freshened some more and I enjoyed a nice sail about in the company of a few others.
Dinner was provided courtesy of UYC and represented excellent value (and was very tasty as well) then it was back to the bar!
Sunday morning saw much improved sailing conditions and myself, Graham, Andy and Adam elected to try to reach the southern end of the lake. Initially there was a plan for a race to be organised for those who were inclined but with the stronger winds many of the others decided to join us in our quest to get as far south as we could.
It was nice to meet Craig (Seabeggar from Song Of The Paddle) and have a look at his Seadart canoe that he's only just finished adapting to sail.
Due to his lack of experience Craig chose to sail locally but Kathryn in her new cedar strip sailing canoe came along. She'd sailed the boat before (and been with us on Saturday) but was still learning the ropes. Nevertheless she was looking good sailing under the watchful eye of Dave Stubbs (who'd done the conversion work for her).
Once we got beyond the racing buoys the horde of racing dinghies from UYC were left behind and we could enjoy the decent wind down to Howtown Bay.
Once round the corner at Skelly Nab the wind freshened again and there were some very strong gusts which made the sailing exciting. Andy was clearly having a blast on his final sail in Delpha 3.
At this point Kathryn and Dave dropped behind and while our buddy group of myself, Graham, Andy and Adam remained together the fleet as a whole became quite split up. I saw Andy landing at Aira Point so headed in to join him. Jeff, Dave and Jan P and Walter were already there while the rest of our group and the Bloor twins negotiated some nasty windshifts to land soon after.
 We all wandered up the hill to the Aira Force cafe for lunch. Keith and Ann joined us soon after (having stopped earlier to put some more layers on).
After lunch myself, Jeff, Walter, Graham, Andy and Adam decided to push on to see if we could reach the end of the lake, everybody else turned for home.
As we set off again there were some fierce gusts and windshifts which made sailing very tricky (but very engaging).
 Just after I took this photo I heard Graham shout and looked round to see Delpha 3 upside down in the water. I hoved too and called Andy on the VHF. He didn't reply but I could see him moving about in the water so knew he was okay. I stayed head to the wind waiting until I saw him right the canoe and get back in before calling again to double check he was okay. Andy was fine and laughing about his capsize so we were soon able to continue on towards Norfolk Island and Glenridding beyond.
Eventually we all landed at Glenridding and spent a few minutes chatting and having a brew amongst the tourist hordes on the beach.
By this time it was 4 PM and most of us had a fair drive home so we set off north back up the lake with the wind behind us. It was an exhilarating run downwind (and a little wild at times) but we made the return journey in only an hour! 
Once we got back to UYC we packed up and said our farewells before starting the journey home. 
There was always a danger that attending a meet that I'd enjoyed so much last year might have proved an anti-climax but the Lakes Classic 2012 lived up to expectations fully. The Scottish Summer meet at Tighnabruaich at the end of August is the next event I can attend and I'm looking forward already. 

Here's the video footage I got of the weekend.

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