Numbers are down as winter bites on Oulton Broad

The winter sailing season started on Oulton Broad on Sunday in somewhat depressing conditions which drastically cut down the fleets.

The wind was basically in the east – although it swung about and almost got to the south at one stage – and very light, but every now and again was livened up by strong gusts and a cold unpleasant drizzle most of the time. It can only get better.

There were just two dinghies out in the Fast Handicap races.

In the first, Duncan Madin pulled out a good lead, helped by David Frary having to rehoist his mainsail as it was slipping down, but he set off in pursuit and although finishing almost two minutes behind this was good enough to give him a narrow 14-second win.

The result in the second race was the same, but this time Madin held only a seven-second lead and was well beaten on handicap.

The Squibs had two cracking races. In the first, Bryan Riley led almost from the start and had a good lead by the last round as Owen Delany, Richard Barrett and David Gooch fought for the other places.

By the last mark Riley was well in front of Delany, with Gooch a few boat lengths behind, but on the final short beat to the line the wind played tricks as Riley came to a stop with only a few yards to go and Gooch caught a gust the others did not see and took second by inches, only just missing out on first.

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Just two Toppers were out in the Slow Handicap and Jo Drake comfortably won both races as Adam Yorkston struggled to find an answer to the conditions.

The second Squib race was also exciting as David Gooch, not unexpectedly, took an early lead as both Riley or Delany stayed ashore.

But on the second beat Robert Catchpole, helming the oldest Squib on the Broad, number 18, picked up some good wind shifts to take a lead he held to the finish while Dave Gentry made a late charge to steal third place from Moore.