Our intrepid bar tender writes:
Please receive the latest, hot off the press results, such as they are.
3171 Richard Wall-Budden
4647 Mike Lipscombe
2713 Andy Ford [ club boat ]
Yes, just 3 boats. A very pleasant day, warm, sowesterly wind , a gentle force 3. I can only assume that the rest of fleet had had enough sailing on Saturday so all decided to go to the last day of the Hampton Court flower show - bless them. You would have thought that with only 3 Solos on the water would have led to a rather dull race. Not so. Mike, approaching the F mark, with a Topper ahead and rounding was forced the wrong side of the mark when the said Topper rounded up to cut close onto a fine beat, as one does. There was some verbal but with all our ears straining we were unable to understand the words. There's never a dull moment on the water.
Of course I have to say something about the Open Meeting. Despite missing a few of our regulars we still managed a respectable 11 local boats (which includes our two Wed members Tom Wilson and Peter Halliday).
The write-up heading for the Solo newsletter etc.
Island Barn welcomed visitors 14 visitors from 8 different clubs complementing the 11 home sailors for the annual Open Meeting in the Thames Valley circuit.
The race officer set a square course trying hard to keep the alignment in a medium south westerly that had a surprising number of shifts but enough strength for the solos to plane down some quite shy reaches.. The first race saw a port end bias that caught a few boats out but the fleet got away on the first attempt with initial leader Mike Hobin (4927) from Oxford doggedly pursued by local sailor Gareth Griffiths (4859) and Vanda Jowett (4620) from Littleton. By the third lap Gareth had slipped through on the run and the first three then kept positions with Daniel Goodman (4735) coming through to take forth.
After lunch races two and three were run back to back in slightly lighter winds. In race two Vanda was clear at the first mark chased by Richard Williams (5017) and Dan Goodman. As the race progressed Dan managed to squeeze past Vanda to take the win, with Mike Hobin third and Gareth fourth to give a four way tie going into the last race. This time Mike Hobin got the best first beat chased by Simon Corper (5024) and Dan Goodman. The leading positions kept changing, on lap two Dan had got the lead from Mike Hobin and Mike Wilke (4772). The shifts on the beats were clearly causing problems and it was all change again on lap three with Mike regaining the lead from Simon and Dan with Vanda getting back in the mix before a final twist saw Simon Corper get the final beat right to lead round the last lap closely followed by Mike Hobin, Dan Goodman and Mike Wilkie.
Overall results couldn't have been much tighter with one point separating the first four places. Dan Goodman from Kingsmead taking the trophy by virtue of his win in race two from Mike Hobin, with Gareth Griffiths taking third (tied on points with Vanda Jowett) by virtue of his race one win, and Mike Wilkie from Littleton took the veterans (over 60) prize.
Arthur was 10th, Tom 15th with Peter Halliday, Hugh, Malcolm, Dave S, Dave C, Dave L, Graeme Stevens (in a club boat) and Alec. Although as always happens at Opens the club fleet filled the back half in the results I don't think the gaps were very large with Arthur and Tom giving some of the travelling race jockeys some surprises. Graeme - well done for persevering in the club boat hopefully you'll join us on a regular basis and we'll help you get closer to the fleet. Keep practicing and keep asking us - it takes a few sails to get used to a new class and those guys on the Open Meeting circuit are pretty hot!
Here's how it panned out from my side.
From my perspective the starts were key - get away well and you could be well placed at the top mark. Hard to get much place changing on the reaches - at most one or two places - the only other chance to overtake was on the run. In the first race the line was obviously biased to the outer end and I expected a pile up to develop there so I aimed to start most of the way down but not right near the pin. I was able to keep a little gap below me to accelerate into and so I was able to start cleanly at speed and then tack. With the wind just nicely in my comfort zone (hiking although not at all overpowered) I was pleased to find that I had enough boat speed to be third at the windward mark and second shortly after. I sailed two laps chasing Mike Hobin consolidating second as the two of us pulled clear before I finally got a chance on the run to split gybes on a small shift and get alongside on the inside. We traded gybes a few times but I just made sure I stayed on the inside to the mark and then I tried to loosely cover Mike much as he had done to me for the first laps. Neither of us wanted to engage in too much of a dual in case Vanda caught us so I had a fairly clean race. I have to say that some of the recent races where I've had you guys right on my tail have given me much more confidence that I can keep sailing cleanly under pressure, but I can tell you it's pretty nerve wracking.
Second race I didn't get as clean a start and had to fight to get clear air so although I was in the mix, I wasn't right at the front. I think I did get to third at one point but I sailed a bad windward leg tacking too often trying to catch a killer shift instead of sailing more smoothly and I twice got rolled over on the reach by the same boat. The wind was also a bit lighter which I find harder. It became that in-between wind when you aren't trying to coax a breath of air from the middle of the boat but aren't sitting out either. I still have some work to do there but I hung in and despite a lot of place changes the results show I ended the laps 6th, 5th and 4th so in hindsight I must have been going better than it felt. That in-between wind is tricky because in really light conditions boat speed is everything. Once I get fully hiked I aim to point as high as I can without losing speed, but in between it is very tricky, one moment speed, one moment pointing.
Race three I knew I had a decent two results so I tried to hit the corner on the first beat after a nice clean start. I went hard right to get towards the bank hoping for that lift along the bank back to the windward mark (near eight). I think it probably paid to go the other way as Mike Hobin came flying in from the left but my clear air and the eventual lift to the mark had me forth at the windward mark. I got rolled over again on the reach this time by Mike Wilkie who just seemed to have a fraction of extra speed downwind. Clearly I'm going to have to work on reaching. I was still in the hunt for the next couple of laps but I wasn't able to really get right up there. Then on lap three my tiller extension which had been hanging on a thread of rubber finally parted. (I had noticed it before the start and tied some string to it so all was not lost but fine control was a bit harder). I think that must have been preying on my mind because I misjudged the last tack to the windward mark and just failed to squeeze round touching the mark with the last few inches of the boat. The 360 pushed me out of the leading group and down into front of the pack where I stayed for the last lap.
We needed to check the rules for tie breaking when we came to the results. One point separating the top four positions. (You break by number of highest positions - so 1 + 4 beats 2 + 3 because of the number of firsts.)
I am away on business this week and vacation next week so probably won't see you for a couple of weeks. Eddie I'm sure will keep the results flowing.
Happy sailing everyone - see you in a couple of weeks