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National Solo Open at Portchester Sailing Club

by Doug Latta & Jonathan Otter on 15 Jun 11 June 2017

Located adjacent to the historic Portchester Castle, the Sailing Club occupies a site which both offers shelter to the friendly visitor, but also strikes fear into those seeking to come with the intent of launching a hostile attack. Just as Henry V launched his campaigns on the continent including his victory at Agincourt, so the visiting Solos came with the intent of lifting the renowned 'Portchester Horn'.

Portchester Sailing Club's volunteers had already got the BBQ running and were able to offer bacon and sausage butties which were welcomed by the competitors, especially those that had possibly overindulged in the nightspots of Port Solent the previous evening.

As the tide was rising the sailors rigged in the lee of the Castle and were impressed by the sparkling conditions they beheld. But with increasing winds forecast, including gusts up to 28 knots later, and the full length of Portsmouth harbour for the South Westerly wind to punish the unwary sailor, so a respect for the ancient sailors came to the minds of the 2017 sailors.

Race Officer Paul Oakey (of RS400 National Champion renown) with his efficient band of course-layers, set up a good length windward beat as part of a traditional Olympic triangle sausage course. As the wind-strength increased, so did the chop, and the sweat on the brows of the sailors as the day went on.

Race 1 - The first race got underway with a slight committee boat end biased line, with Iain McGreggor from Salcombe YC taking pole position, and showing the fleet a clean pair of heels extending his lead on each leg. Only Tim Jackson from Papercourt looked in contention while Locks SC sailor Ray Collins made a fine effort to keep in contention. Local sailor Doug Latta stormed up through the fleet after having to do turns for an early infringement, and despite regaining 3rd place lost out on the penultimate beat when a big shift saw him on the wrong side of the beat, letting local sailmaker and Portchester sailor Mark Flew, through to finish 4th.

Race 2 - Race 2 saw the winds increase still further, and by now there were a few wondering what might come next. In a daring move, Portchester sailor Jon Powell went for a port tack flyer off the line, and lead the fleet for the first triangle and sausage. Being a Skiff sailor, he forgot that Solo's can go straight downwind on the 'sausage' leg, and set off on a blistering broad reach while the rest of the fleet sailors took advantage and pulled ahead. On the third lap approaching the wing mark, the wind increased dramatically and saw the leading boats screaming in to the gybe mark – the broad grins on their faces turning to hard set jaws on the approach to the mark. First to round was Tim Jackson, who decided to wear round, but was wiped out by a gust part way through his tack allowing Iain McGreggor to press home his advantage to lead, with Doug Latta and Jonathan Otter, fresh from a coaching day held at the club on Friday pressing hard on his heels. Having won the Open without the need to compete in race 3, McGreggor was able to head for the Clubhouse to limber up for his musical recital on the Portchester Horn – adding another first place to his win the day before at Dell Quay's excellent event.

Race 3 - Some of the less hardy sailors were now starting to feel the fear, as the breeze got up further for race 3. After a clean start, the leading group approaching the windward mark Jackson & Otter rounding cleanly whilst Latta misjudged his approach to the mark and in the ensuing pile up and much shouting from the indignant fleet, Latta headed back to shore with his tail between his legs.

With some blistering reaches, and awe-inspiring runs, a few successful gybes and a few more unsuccessful, the fleet chased home with Tim Jackson leading Jonathan Otter who was delighting in his first podium placing in his Solo, Ray Collins leading Lymington sailor Malcolm Buchanon home.

A fine spread of sandwiches, home-made cakes and tea was laid on by the home support team, and declared the top tea of the Southern Series so far, quite an accolade! Iain McGreggor lifted the Portchester Horn and was able to 'blow his own trumpet' to keep up the Portchester tradition.

Paul Oakey and his team ran an excellent Open Meeting, and visitors were made to feel extremely welcome by everyone at Portchester SC and it was a pleasure sailing against the delightful backdrop of Portchester Castle.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3Pts
1st5744Iain McGreggorSalcombe Yacht Club11(DNC)2
2nd5535Tim JacksonPapercourt2‑313
3rd5168Jonathan OtterPapercourt Sailing Club‑7426
4th5596Ray CollinsLocks Sailing Club3‑536
5th5300Doug LattaPortchester SC52(DNF)7
6th5570Malc BuchananLymington Town Sailing CLub6‑10410
7th4656Mark FlewPortchester Sailing Club4‑9711
8th5074Jon PowellPortchester Sailing Club‑117512
9th4454Stas HawkinsPapercourt Sailing Club‑108614
10th5374Chris DaviesPortchester Sailing Club86(DNC)14
11th3803Alan RobertsLeigh on Sea‑1311819
12th4679Mark FullerPapercourt Sailing Club9(DNF)DNC26
13th5726Richard WilletsBurghfield Sailing Club12(DNF)DNC29
14th4874Richard MayPapercourt Sailing Club14(DNF)DNC31
15th5526Neil BurdenPortchester SC15(DNF)DNC32
16th4204Roy NewportPapercourt Sailing Club16(DNC)DNC33

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