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Zhik Poole Week at Parkstone Yacht Club - Day 3

by David Harding 26 Aug 2015 07:47 BST 23-28 August 2015

You went sailing in that?!

The Weather Gods with responsibility for Dorset must be wondering what they need to do to get the better of Zhik Poole Week.

On Monday they served up continuous rain, but it wasn't enough to spoil the fun: everyone went out anyway and had a great day on the water. Clearly a tougher approach was called for, so on Tuesday the dials for both wind and rain were turned up into the red zone. The result was a lot of colourful fluttering on Parkstone Yacht Club's flag pole and one or two cars leaving the car park, but also plenty of activity on the slipway as boats were launched and sailed off into the murk.

The plan for Tuesday had been for the Wayfarers, XODs, Shrimpers and Flying Fifteens to have an 11:30 start from the Royal Motor Yacht Club's line, close to the harbour entrance, and then head into the bay. The Wayfarers looked at the forecast on Monday night and decided that starting from the committee boat at their usual 13:00 and staying inside the harbour sounded a much better idea. A similar conclusion was reached by the XODs, though at least they did race whereas the Wayfarers, seeing what it was really like, voted to stay ashore and have two races on Wednesday instead. That left the Flying Fifteens and Shrimpers to set off down the harbour as the later starters and non-sailing family members observed through the rain-lashed windows of the clubhouse.

First away were the Fifteens, on a course that took them not outside but up South Deep and back and then around the harbour. It included one of the longest and wildest spinnaker reaches most of the fleet could remember. The pecking order was established early on, Bob Alexander and Huw Willetts taking a lead they never relinquished. Hard on their heels but unable to find a way past, Graham and Ben Scroggie had to settle for second but still have a two-point lead overall.

Next away, but caught slightly off-guard by a starting sequence that ran five minutes earlier than scheduled, the Shrimpers found themselves sent out of the harbour. Poole Bay in well over 20 knots from the south east can be a lively place to sail, especially in a 19ft gaffer, so it was no surprise that only three of the eight starters completed the course. Most simply decided enough was enough, while others carried on despite gear failure. By Shrimper standards it was carnage: breakages included John Tanner's Windex and Lionel Cartwright broke his whisker pole. Things might have been more inconvenient for David Saville-Platt who, on dropping his mainsail to head for home, found his leeward shroud waving in the breeze.

Inside the harbour, the Lasers, XODs and RSs sailed two short races in the top triangle, where the steep chop and wind gusting to the mid-20s made life interesting. Nonetheless, there was roughly one Laser on the start line for every knot of wind and most made it home in one piece.

Whether the Weather Gods have plans to spice things up with yet more testing conditions, or whether they will consider that Zhik Poole Week has passed the challenge, we will see over the next two days.

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