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What the Blazes!

Carsington Sailing Club welcomed Blaze sailors from across the country to a training day and Blaze Open Meeting over the weekend of 13th and 14th April.

A Blaze is a small single handed sailing dinghy, made locally in Derby! It is a growing fleet and popular in the Midlands and on the South coast. Carsington Sailing Club were delighted to host the Blaze Association and their members for a weekend of sailing.

Saturday was a day of training with 3 expert trainers: Adam and his brother Richard Bowers and multi Blaze National Champion, Ben Harden. Adam was confined to shore so took the classroom duties while Richard conducted the water exercises with Ben nipping between sailors to give more Blaze-specific pointers.

Sailors wasted no time, hitting the water early for practice starts and short races due to strong afternoon winds. The first session near the dam wall offered a challenge with gusty and shifting southerly winds. Session 2 mirrored the first but added a leg and gybes as winds picked up after lunch, prompting a welcome course relocation. Following a productive training session, sailors returned to the club for debriefing.

Sunday was race day. The wind was mellow - a little too mellow for some - but we all knew the build was coming. Race Officer (and weekend co-organiser), Alf Hawksworth (Carsington SC member), conducted the briefing and thankfully for the visitors had decided to remove the complication of competitors needing to know the club mark layout by opting to use 4 inflatable buoys and a Blaze-friendly trapezoid course. The club racing was also run on this course with them going first for the morning’s 2 races and Blazes first for the afternoon 2 races.

Race 1 got away cleanly on a nice long start line (courtesy of the club race numbers). It appeared that everyone was putting their training in to practice, getting clear lanes upwind with well-executed mark roundings.

Race 2, and the wind was up. Again, the Blaze fleet started after the club fleet, so they watched with interest as the club fleet took to the beat. The course was pretty much unchanged but the building wind, up to 12-15mph by now made for interesting sailing.

After lunch, the wind had increased, and with the Blaze fleet starting first, there was no-one to follow. For race 3 a port start would have been ideal but with the newly shortened start line it was never going to come off. Race 4 with the wind up, and tired bodies, the attrition rate was starting to show. With a couple of non-starters and several Blazes retiring, opting instead for a warm early shower, they were down to 10 boats for race 4.

Alan Harris-Guerrero, a newcomer to the Blaze class but a seasoned Finn sailor, emerged victorious, winning 3 out of 4 races. Carsington’s own Will Gould was 2nd overall. Douglas Clow from Island Barn Reservoir SC came 3rd.

The Prize giving rounded out the day. Carsington Sailing Club were thanked for their warmth, hospitality and hosting generosity throughout the weekend and the Blaze Class happy to pledge to return in the future.

There are currently several members sailing Blazes at Carsington with club member Will Gould championing the class. Will not only sails a Blaze but builds them! He works for Heartly Boats in Derby where they are made and is also the class Technical Officer. Will attends, and often wins, Blaze Open Meets and is keen to encourage anyone to have a go at sailing a Blaze!


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