Salcombe Yacht Club’s annual, three day open meeting took place over the Whitsun bank holiday week-end at the end of May. A frontal system passing across the South West of England during the week-end, brought with it ferocious south westerly winds and 25 mph gusts, which favoured the heavy weather specialists for the first race on Saturday afternoon.
Of the 51 boats entered, just 42 presented themselves at the start line whilst others took an early discard and elected to save their energy for the following two days. Buoyed up from his 5th place at the Weymouth pre-championships the previous week-end, Roger Tushingham immediately stamped his authority on the race by showing current and past Nation’s Cup winners Paul Ellis and Alister Morley the way round the windward mark at Blackstone.
Three rescue boats were soon busy as heavy gusts claimed their victims, 15 of whom retired at various stages in the race. The chase continued on the fast reach across open water to Gerston point, but local experts Chris Cleaves and Graham Cranford-Smith (who retired at the finish following an earlier incident with Tim Law) failed to match the pace of Tushingham. Paul Rayson was the leading visitor, classified 6th of the 27 finishers.
Day two saw more of the same with grey skies, a sea mist and strong south westerly winds. Thirty boats braved the start line and all but four completed the course. This time Roger Tushingham did not have it all his own way off the start line, but once out in front, was untouchable and claimed his second win, despite the best endeavours of local crews Ellis, Morley, Cleaves and Cranford-Smith who eventually took the top five places in that order. Steve Conroy (Fisher’s Green) was the highest placed visitor in 8th place.
After lunch, the winds moderated and 34 boats started the third race for which the race officer took full advantage of the flooding tide, to set a long course which encompassed most of the creeks in the estuary. Tushingham was now on his hat-trick and spent the afternoon defending his immediate lead from a determined Alister Morley who in turn had his work cut out in fending off Paul Rayson, the first visitor to break up the top 5 cartel of local helms and claim a well deserved 3rd place, on his 39th birthday.
Day three and, as forecast, the frontal system had now passed through, leaving the Bank Holiday Monday with light winds and fluky gusts from the North East. This was just as well, as bodies were now frail from the toll of two days hard racing in Force 5 winds and there were some sore heads from the previous night’s dinner, which had been generously sponsored by Barney Greenhill. It was therefore in stark contrast to the previous two days, that 36 boats crept off the start line for the fourth and final race, to head slowly away to the north. Paul Rayson (Fisher’s Green) gave the Salcombe crews a master-class in how to deal with the tricky conditions and claimed a well deserved victory. Steve Conroy (Fisher’s Green), Mark Maskell (Blackwater) and Jon Clarke (Draycote) took 3rd, 4th & 5th consecutively with local honour upheld by a typically cunning performance from Chris Cleaves who finished 2nd just behind Rayson.
Roger Tushingham’s sixth place did little to spoil his tally of three points from the first three races and left him undisputed winner of the week-end. Having finished in all four races and scored the highest number of points, Tristram Squire collected event sponsor, Barney Greenhill’s trophy, a framed picture of some very early Solos on Smalls Cove in 1963.
Overall Results: (top ten)
1st Roger Tushingham
2nd Paul Ellis
3rd Chris Cleaves
4th Alister Morley
5th Paul Rayson
6th Steve Conroy
7th Mike Hicks
8th Graham Cranford-Smith
9th Tim Law
10th Jon Clarke