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Comet Open at Merthyr Tydfil Sailing Club

by Mark Govier 23 Sep 2015 07:35 BST 20 September 2015
A mirror-like lake for the Comets at Merthyr Tydfil © Mark Govier

The gossamer wispiness twisting among the trees gave the glass smooth water a soft-focus surreal look as we arrived around 8 am. However, we were not disheartened, the forecast was for exactly this first thing, increasing to a gentle breeze by the time we planned to race.

I think we were lucky to get the visitors we did, as we had been entirely unaware of the Rugby World Cup when planning this event, and in a story reflecting the bible there really was no room at any inn unless you wanted to stay in Swindon! But the lack of a nearby bed doesn't stop the hard-core of the Comet constellation from orbiting...

Five local Comets were joined by eight visitors from as far away as Crawley Mariners Yacht Club and Hunts Sailing Club. The briefing was held at 11 am by which time the light wind had filled in from the south as expected. The course and starting sequence was explained and everyone headed out onto the water.

The first start was a relatively well behaved one with none over the line and the fleet heading upwind. The fleet started to split into those that favoured one side or the other and there were gains and losses on both sides. While some sailed a more radical lower number of tacks route. As the fleet bore away from the windward mark there was little clear advantage and then there was a little "bunching" and "negotiation" for position towards the gybe mark but I don't recall any crunching sounds or desperate cries before the fleet reached back across towards the clubhouse for the second gybe. The reach had spread out the boats a little more and on the long run towards the bottom mark again there seemed to be two fleets, one either side of the centre line. After a little re-education in the subtleties of the rules for some at the bottom mark, the 1 km beat back up through the line began. This time the fleet did spread a little more as some could make full advantage of small puffs of extra wind. When it came to the finish after a second lap where the wind had dropped slightly and started to move more westerly, Chris Hatton (Comet 48 from Severn Sailing Club) had pulled ahead to finish first, followed by Bob Dodds (Comet 869 from Crawley Mariners Sailing Club) and Izac Dodds (Comet 701 also from Crawley Mariners Sailing Club).

All then came ashore for some lunch and drinks on the patio overlooking the lake. The baked potatoes with chili and salad followed by spiced apple and fruit crumble and custard went down very well. The second race of the day was also that designated to be the Bart's Bash race. The wind after lunch had turned a lot more westerly than the forecast had suggested. So the line was shifted and the course altered to suit as best the lake could accommodate. The course distance was measured as 1509m and the wind judged to be light. We returned to our boats...

This different course, with the relatively short beat may have been expected to have a similarly bunched fleet, but it seemed to spread the fleet a little better. Soon, Chris Hatton and Ben Palmer (Comet 597, Baltic Wharf SC) were battling it out at the front of the fleet. After three laps, four Comets were pretty much clear of the rest of the fleet, but Chris Hatton finished 43 seconds ahead of Izac Dodds who was just four seconds ahead of Ben Palmer with Dave Harris (Comet 711,Severn SC) only a short way back in fourth place.

The third race of the day was started as soon as the sailors and race officer were ready; we didn't want to hang around, people wanted to get away before the rugby crowds hit the road. This time there was a little argy bargy and shouting at the line but all was resolved on the water. Everyone made a fair start in the end. The same butterfly shaped course was sailed as in the second race. But this time the fleet was much closer for longer (apart from a few of us at the back, the author included). Once on the fetch back towards the line things started to spread out a little but places were changing regularly; was it just me or was the wind becoming a teeny bit lighter and fluky? The front of the fleet was this time taken by Dave Harris who managed to hold off Chris Hatton who could be heard to exclaim when the shorten course signal was given as the second lap headed to conclusion. Ben Palmer managed to hold on to third place in this last race.

Everyone was then helped to quickly recover their boats and get packed away for their journey home. The prize giving was accompanied by friendly chatter over sandwiches, tea and cakes. Many thanks again to the visitors for making the effort to visit us and all those who helped at the club adding greatly to a great day in the light autumn mists.

I must apologise for the reduced level of detail in this year's report; I must try harder to stay nearer the front where the action is taking place.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3Pts
1st48Chris HattonSevern Sailing Club11‑22
2nd711Dave HarrisSevern Sailing Club‑5415
3rd701Izac DoddsCrawley Mariners Yacht Club32‑65
4th869Bob DoddsCrawley Mariners Yacht Club2‑746
5th597Ben PalmerBaltic Wharf Sailing Club‑6336
6th165Keith BondMerthyr Tydfil Sailing Club4‑5.559
7th867Chris RobinsonBurghfield Sailing Club‑75.5712.5
8th844Paul HindeSevern Sailing Club‑88816
9th532John CoppenhallHunts Sailing Club‑99918
10th420Alun BevanMerthyr Tydfil Sailing Club1010‑1120
11th581Robert WookeyMerthyr Tydfil Sailing Club‑11111021
12th460Mark GovierMerthyr Tydfil Sailing Club‑12121224
13th694Andrew PhillipsMerthyr Tydfil Sailing Club‑13131326