ACT NINE was the rescheduled event at Sandwell MBC from September, the club did a grest job of the hospitallity and with the first Autuminal chill in the air the skippers were most grateful for the cups of tea provided.
With light winds predicted we decided to sail from the opposite bank which seemed to give us the best opportunity to get some decent airs.
This however was the scene of most of the weed infestation which had recently plagued the Dartmouth Park venue, and whilst it did affect some of the skippers during some of the races generally we all coped pretty well and towards the end we had either fetched most of it out or it had dispersed.
The course was set as a reahing start on starboard, onto a port rounding of a central bouy, then to the upwind mark to port and a run to the downwind gate. The early races were characterised by very light winds which saw all the skippers on their largest rigs, whilst some may have been wishing at this point that they were allowed to go larger, the little footy boats did keep moving and racing was able to take place allbeit at a slower pace than is usual.
Mike Ewart is the 2015 Extreme Footy Champion with a series of great wins early on that put him in an great position which he followed up with steady second places to a couple of different winners which left him in an unassailable position by the end of the season. The closeness of the racing towards the end with a number of skippers all racing for event victories, especailly in the last two Acts make me think that 2016 is going to be one fantastic season. Thanks to everyone who took part in the Extreme Footy Series in 2015, we hope you enjoyed the racing as much as we did and that we get to see you again in 2016.
With the lunch break taken, racing commenced with Peter Jackson continuing where he had left off immediately before the break and closed the small defacite that had opened up, so by race twelve there was nothing to choose between the front runners, at this point Peter Shepherd put together his best series of the day and whilst he was out of the running for the event win his improved form would be crucial in deciding the final finishing places. By the time the final double points race came, Mike Ewart was leading on 131, with Peter Jackson second, 128 and John Burgoine third with 127.
John got away well from the line, closely followed by Peter Shepherd, Peter Jackson rounded the first mark third with Mike having a stinker of a start and stuck back in the fleet. The breeze had dropped a little, however this only added to the tension, mark two John rounds first, a small gap to Peter Shepherd who makes a bit of a meal of rounding this one to allow PJ and Mike, who has managed to shake of the fleet, to close up. Downwind to the gate and John stays away, Peter S manages to keep ahead and pulls out a little from PJ & Mike who are tripping each other up Mike hitting the upwind mark! Another beat leg back to the upwind the order stays the same but the gaps are closing all the time, around the mark much cleaner this time the order hasn't changed but everyone is much closer. John is a few lengths ahead, Peter S is just ahead of PJ who has Mike putting him under pressure with a call of starboard on the downwind, a slight wind shift and some more pressure and Peter S & PJ get the benefit. At the upwind gate Peter S goes right, PJ & Mike go left, PJ makes a mistake and lets Mike though, the left mark pays dividends and Peter S closes some of the gap to John, they round the upwind mark for the final time a few feet apart. John hangs on to cross the line first with Peter S closing fast on his heels, PJ has somehow managed to get himself back ahead of Mike in the upwind tacking battle and rounds the final bouy ahead, crossing the line for third pushed all the way to the line by Mike. Phew what a race! The way it worked out meant John leap frogged both Mike & PJ to take the event win. Despite his heroic efforts in the final race PJ wasn't able to pip Mike who took second by just one point from PJ.
Initially it looked as if Peter Jackson was going to continue where he left off at the Cadenhead Trophy, however Mike Ewart & John Burgoine started a ding dong series of races with PJ's "F Plan" quite often the filling in ICE sandwich. It wasn't until race six that Peter Shepherd briefly rediscovered his mojo after an abysmal start.
Trevor Thomas had a couple of good races behind the battelling front runners, indeed with such tough competition at the front it was hard for anyone else to get placed higher than fourth which thankfully Geoff, Sid & Terry did a few times between them. I am sure they will all be back stronger then ever for the new season.
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