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Blaydon open meeting
A small but select fleet gathered at Newburn Slipway yesterday to partake in TSC's winter Long Race from Newburn Slipway. A few potential competitors were perhaps put-off by a strong wind forecast. They missed a memorable days sailing!. Over the last decade a 'silted-up' slipway has restricted winter racing at Newburn to 'high tide' days when there is insufficient clearance to squeeze a dinghy mast under Newburn Bridge. For the last decade TSC have hosted a high tide 'up-river' course (away from Blaydon!) for their annual Blaydon Race. A perceived reduction in slipway silt prompted an attempt this year to revert to the traditional down river course by selecting a 'low tide' Sunday, and launching 'just before' the slipway silt emerges on a falling tide. The fleet set off down river apace chasing a committee boat primed to lay a turning mark 'somewhere downstream'!
A strong ebb-tide swept the fleet quickly downstream and before an hour had elapsed the leading boat had cleared Scotswood Bridge, whistled past the Metro Centre, and was approaching Dunston Staithes - throwing distance from the Tyne Bridge itself!. Fearful that the 7 mile beat home against the remaining ebb may take somewhat longer than the 'skid' downriver the race officer laid the turning mark at Dunston. Philip David's lead over Mark & Emma Simpson (OCS at start!) was immediately cut by half as he hit the adverse stream. However sunshine and a good sitting out breeze enabled all to stem the current, to the extent that the whole fleet arrived back at Newburn earlier than expected and had to await the rising tide to access the slipway. Competitors voted the 'downstream option' a success so with further refinement of the start time it is planned to repeat the course in the spring of 2015.