Prior makes light of handicap to lift cup

Glorious sunshine and little wind greeted the four boats that came to compete for the Welland Yacht Club’s Flag Officers Cup.

The decision had been made to run the races in the pursuit format. Pursuit racing is where the class handicaps are applied at the start to give each class its own start time for a set duration of race.
In theory, at the end of the allotted time, all boats should be roughly in the same place.
Richard Stedman (Comet) started first in race one, run over 45 minutes, followed by Martin Cook (Solo, wooden) two minutes later and Mark Scourfield (Solo, composite) 30 seconds later with Andy Prior (Laser) four minutes after the first boat.
What little wind there was dropped as the race got underway, meaning the time advantage had been severely eroded by the time the last boat got under way, allowing Prior to move to the lead by the time the first buoy was rounded.
Scourfield moved into second place on the way back to the clubhouse with Stedman third and Cook fourth.
Once around the clubhouse buoy, Stedman started to make gains on Scourfield with the light breeze constantly shifting direction as it swirled around the riverbanks.
As the end of the 45 minutes approached, Stedman moved into second place and held it until the end but was unable to catch Prior with Scourfield third and Cook fourth.
The boats maintained their starting order up to rounding the first buoy in the second race. As they made their way back to the clubhouse, Scourfield and Prior moved up to second and third place respectively, with Stedman still holding on to the lead with Cook fourth. Prior took second place just before rounding the clubhouse buoy.
As they made their way back upriver for the second time, Prior took the lead with Scourfield gaining second place, Stedman third and Cook fourth. With five minutes to go and the light breeze still constantly shifting, Prior and Scourfield changed place several times until Scourfield managed to make the most of the conditions and held the lead until the end with Stedman third and Cook again fourth.
Cook elected not to take part in the final race.
The breeze had picked up, allowing Stedman to make the most of his start time.
The starting order remained up to the rounding of the first buoy then Scourfield took the lead with Prior moving up to second.
Towards the end it looked like it would be neck and neck to the end until Prior managed to pull clear in the last five minutes with Scourfield retaining second place.
That meant the Flag Officers Cup went to Prior with Scourfield second.
Anyone wanting to find out more about sailing can contact the club via email:

Andy Prior.

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