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Shearwater TT at Stone Sailing Club

by Malcolm Greenhill 24 Jun 2011 11:29 BST 18-19 June 2011

Murray Greenhill sailed Shearwater 'Dilligaf' to win his first TT event at Stone. Here are his thoughts...

WOWEEE!!!! What a weekend!

Firstly I would like to congratulate everyone who made it through the wind and rain on the motorways to get there. The only way I managed it was to follow the wonky trailer board of 'Simply Red' through the spray off the road.

The Shearwater family spirit was evident almost immediately as Friday evening began. We were sitting in the bar having a nice pint when a completely saturated Alan Howland entered the bar requesting all hands on deck to assist Rob and Angie in assembling their tent in what seemed to be a monsoon.

Soon there were 8 or more fully saturated people and one assembled tent. Great success!!

Saturday morning soon arrived with lots of rain, a steady force 5 breeze and 30+ knot gusts. This was the start of a very interesting day on the water.

The first race began with a fairly crowded start line with both Shearwaters and Spitfires starting together. On this lap we could all see the windward mark and started heading towards it. Alex and father Greg Wilcox on 'Foreigner' were the only boat to dare hoist the spinnaker on the reach which gave them a huge boost. They soon regretted their decision after the gybe when one of the larger gusts of the day forced them into such a violent pitchpole that their starboard hull snapped in half in front of the main beam, only being held together by the deck.

Thankfully both helm and crew were ok and the boat was escorted back to the beach by two safety boats. We all hope that 'Foreigner' will be repaired to sail another day.

We soon came to the beginning of the second lap and as we passed the committee boat we were struck by the most severe weather I have ever sailed in. The wind strength increased to 30+ knots with a downpour of rain which appeared to be coming at us sideways, stinging our faces and reducing visibility to a few yards. These conditions lasted for almost 15 minutes until the black clouds above had passed. A few boats later told me they survived by sitting in irons while two boats were blown over.

I looked for the windward mark but I could not see it for the life of me. All I could see was the sail of 'Ruby', crewed by Roger Crooks and daughter Anna Alan, just ahead of me half way up the windward leg; so they became my bearing. Soon we were at the windward mark and hot on their tail.

On the downwind leg 'Ruby' seemed to be pulling away from us so I asked my crew Nick Bristow, who was on a Shearwater for his first time that day, if he was feeling crazy. He replied yes so we hoisted the spinnaker. With some great spinnaker control, we soon sailed past 'Ruby' to take the gun at the line.

The second race was slightly delayed as two of our three safety boats were still carrying Foreigner back to the beach and the committee boat deemed it unsafe to start the race in those conditions with only one safety boat available.

Once we were underway, it seemed the fleet were a bit over-excited which resulted in a general recall. The conditions were similar to race 1 but with smaller gusts and less rain.

The whole fleet were extremely close throughout the entire race which lead to some great close racing in tricky conditions. I don’t really remember much about the second race because I was so busy trying to get past people, especially 'Carbon Footprint' who was just in front of me all the way round.

Race three soon began and the weather turned again shortly after the start. More gusts around the 30 knot mark came blasting through which led to a few torn mainsails and capsizes, and the loss of my brand new carbon fibre spinnaker pole with custom fittings that I had only just finished that morning. DOH! Oh well, that’s racing.

Just like the first race, the huge gusts played right into our hands. 'Carbon footprint' crewed by Shaun Allen and Claire Robinson were in front me of from the off and at one point it seemed like I was catching them but then they pulled away again. Throughout the entire race it seemed as if we had a giant bungee chord between us but in the end 'Carbon Footprint' took the gun.

On the Saturday night we had our usual disco party but this time it was a themed night. The theme was “School days” due to Claire Robinson starting her new job as a School Headmistress (congratulations again Claire). The disco was run by two lovely Stone sailing club local lasses and we all had an amazing night. Thanks go to them.

All too soon, after just a few hours sleep we all emerged from our various accommodation to another windy day. I think the thought going through everyone’s minds was “oh please not again” as we were all in a lot of pain from the day before. To our relief, the race Officer Wendy had picked up on the moans and groans and also decided the conditions were too challenging to run with the amount of safety cover that was on offer to us on the day due to club racing.

This weekend is certainly one I will not forget. Not only because it was my first TT win as a helm but also because of the company, entertainment, weather and also that we brought a number of great new people into the fleet, including my crew for the weekend Nick Bristow.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoBoatHelmCrewClubR1R2R3Pts
12003DilligafMurray GreenhillNick BristowRYA1528
21996RubyRoger CrooksAnna AlanSSC / Canvey Chapman Sands2349
32006Alley CatAlan HowlandRob BrittonRYADNF2315
42008Shear FlambouyanceDarren TulleyCatherine HowlandRYA36615
52007SimsekNigel StuartSarah StuartMRSC71DNF18
61990Simply RedPeter SharrodRichard PlayfordHastings & St Leonards SC68519
71999Carbon FootprintShaun AllenClaire RobinsonFelixstowe Ferry SC / RYADNC4120
82002China CrisisRobert HamiltonTayla PlayfordHastings & St Leonards SC49720
919-2004UFOGrace WilliamsDel WilliamsRYA57DNF22
101988ForeignerAlex WilcoxGreg WilcoxHastings & St Leonards SCDNFDNCDNC40
111984OrwellRichard HillHoly BradySSCDNCDNCDNC45
111985Coeur De VerreJudith RossRobin De VriesSSCDNCDNCDNC45

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