HURRICANE Bertha did not deter six intrepid sailors from entering the eighth race in the Pursuit Series at Arden Sailing Club in Defford on Sunday.
At the start of the race the wind was a light north easterly force 1 or 2, however within 15 minutes into the hour-long race things had changed dramatically.
The wind had shifted to the north west and increased in strength to a gusty force 5 to 6. It was clear this was really going to test the sailing skills of everyone on the water.
After completing two exciting laps, Keith Hodges in his Comet decided it was just too strong for him to handle and so retired from the race. The others continued with huge waves spraying from the bows of each boat as they raced with the wind behind them back down the river.
With one almighty gust of wind boats were tossed about, with Niall Campbell, Stuart Stephen and David Stephen – all sailing Laser Dinghies – capsizing in spectacular fashion.
At this point Emma Williams also in a Laser took the sensible decision to retire while she was still upright. Only Simon Newman in a Solo managed to survive and continued sailing.
Conditions had now worsened to such an extent that Officer of the Day Keith Stevens took the decision to abandon the race while the safety boat assisted those who needed it back to the landing stage at the club.
Only David Stephen’s boat sustained damage with a broken rudder. Everyone agreed when safely back on shore that it had been an exhilarating race but Bertha got the better of them.
Later, back at the clubhouse, everyone enjoyed a delicious barbecue to help Emma celebrate her 30th birthday.
Anyone interested in sailing or learning to sail and wanting more information should contact Keith on 01684 833061 or visit www.ardensc.org.