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Solo Southern Area Championship at Felpham Sailing Club sponsored by Harken and Hyde Sails

by Guy Mayger 23 May 2017 14:59 BST 20-21 May 2017

What a weekend! The sun shone and the wind blew for the 25 Solo's competing in the Southern Area Championship. The Solo class has a long history of enjoying the hospitality of the best little sailing club on the south coast (IMHO), but it has been 7 years since FRP (and some wood) had hit the waves of Felpham and there were some eager, long distance travelling competitors looking to get some pre-Nationals practice in. With excellent support from Harken and Hyde Sails there were also lots of goodies up for grabs!

As always, Felpham laid on its usual friendly welcome with beach crew to help those less familiar with sea launching ahead of perfectly laid courses under the control of PRO Tom Rusbridge. Keeping it old school (like a lot of the sailors) triangle/sausage was the course of choice. The upwinds were hard on the legs, whilst the reaches offered the sort of excitement everyone was hoping for and no less tiring for those who worked the waves!

Race 1, SW 15-18 knots and hot out of the blocks was Martin Frary showing his excellent upwind boat speed (free and fast) with Andy Davis (HD Sails) snapping at his heals and Hyde Sails Richard Lovering avoiding the carnage of the gaggle of boats just behind. As things settled down the usual faces started to pull through with Chris "steady as a rock" Brown in 4th and Lawrence Creaser holding 5th after someone(!) went for a swim on the final gybe to the finish line. After 40 odd years of sailing at Felpham I really should know better! Simon Derham from Littleton SC rounded out the top six, in conditions a little different to his home club for sure.

Race 2, with the wind holding steady at 18 knots and the fleet generally getting more used to the waves the second race of the day got underway after an initial general recall, the black flag keeping everyone on the right side of the line. Once again Frary had the legs on the fleet upwind. Behind a rare error from Davis being caught out by the incoming tide and a thin lay on the windward mark allowed Guy Mayger (Lennon Racewear) to take a reassuring third, whilst Creaser showed moments of exceptional downwind pace to hang onto second for the North Sails team. Lovering 5th and Brown in 6th.

Race 3 and more of the same. In fact, the breeze might have just piped up a tad as the Felpham thermal started to kick in. Once again Frary and Davis led the charge with Mayger making a handy move towards to bottom of the second reach overtaking 4 boats to leeward and moving into a relatively comfortable 3rd, just hanging onto the shirt tails of the leading two. This time Andy got his revenge and took the win from Martin. Chris Brown took a consistent 4th, Richard Lovering 5th and Nigel Davies 6th. To be honest, over the course of the first three races the fleet had been pretty close with some tight, ding-dong battles going on within all of the top ten. The likes of Mark Lee (also a windward mark victim), Ray Collins, Nigel Thomas and Andrew Wilson all had their moments to shine.

Once back on shore, ably assisted again by the excellent beach team, the sailors set about the free teas and cakes. Again, I'm slightly bias, but I think we/Felpham might be challenging Chichester and Papercourt in this department. This all served as a little appetizer to the evening curry and quiz where the Solo table, named The Lost Keys (ask Martin Frary), surprisingly so nearly won!

Sunday morning arrived a little earlier than some might have liked after a very "enjoyable" evening, but this time with hardly any breeze. With the Bognor 10K runners due to come passed the club at 10:45 there was a little pressure on the PRO to keep to the 10:30 start time in order to clear the prom, but right on cue the forecast south easterly started to fill in so racing could begin in 5-6 knots which built over the next few hours.

Race 4 and a clean start was needed if you were to be up the front, so Mayger being 3 boat lengths over wasn't ideal. Lovering though had no such problem, and whilst being a newbie to the Solo showed his class (Flying Fifteen champion) to lead and win the race by a handsome margin from the ever present Davis and Frary. Fraser Hayden, only racing on Sunday, scored a very creditable 4th with Brown and the fast finishing Mayger (having restarted correctly) overlapped for 5th and 6th respectively. The 10K runners made quite a sight from out on the water and I'm sure they also admired the physical prowess of the Solo sailors/athletes!

Race 5, things were hotting up in the overall, but just when he needed to keep things consistent Frary threw an 8th place into his scoreline, whilst Davis took the win from Mayger a little way in front Mark Lee, who was showing good speed in the lighter conditions. Lovering 4th, Davies 5th and another one-dayer Tim Lewis 6th.

Going into the last race and the brain cells of the leading boats tried to crunch the scores, but sadly the effects of the previous night didn't help. Mark Lee nailed the first beat and held a nice lead. Behind, Davis and Frary slugged it out with Lovering and Mayger also battling for third place overall. Davis eventually eased away from Frary, but surely Mark was too far in front to be caught? Lovering kept a tight rein on Mayger as the leaders made their way to a championship style windward finish. Little by little Davis edged closer to Lee who didn't quite have the pace or height to control the situation and within touching distance of the line Davis slipped passed for a third win. Mark, though probably slight gutted, could still hold his head high with a classy second place. Frary, Lovering, Mayger and light wind ace Nigel Thomas completed the top six. In all we only had two black flag starts and one OCS from Chris Brown, but that's almost a tradition now.

Back on shore teas and cakes were once again the order of the day before prizes were awarded. Again the generous support of both sponsors was hugely appreciated with those at the back of the fleet picking up discount vouchers from Hyde Sails. Alan Roberts collected a new pair of Harken gloves, it having been noted that he sailed with a 3:1 mainsheet rather than the usual 4:1. Maybe we should have sourced a becket block as well! Mid fleet sailors Andrew Wilson and Doug Latta collected some Harken Sailkote and Hullkote to help them speed up their ships, whilst Derek Jackman took the prize for Grand Master and will look very fetching in his Harken bobble hat. Wine, t-shirts, caps and water bottles collected by those in the top 6 and then a free for all ensued when the free Harken calibration strips and port/starboard stickers were laid out on the awards table.

Congratulations to our new Southern Area champion Andy Davis! He was pushed hard this weekend by Martin Frary with Richard Lovering and Guy Mayger not too far behind, once again showing how close and enjoyable Solo fleet racing is.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1st5597Andy DavisBartley SC2‑412117
2nd5583Martin FraryWeston SC1123‑8310
3rd5719Richard LoveringHISC3‑5514417
4th5691Guy MagyerFelpham SC‑133362519
5th5712Chris BrownDraycote4645(OCS)827
6th5130Mark LeeWeymouth‑129783229
7th5707Nigel DaviesDraycote Water SC77675‑932
8th5705Lawrence CreaserHISC52‑111010734
9th5596Ray CollinsLocks SC9810‑1891248
10th5670Nigel ThomasHill Head SC‑151413911653
11th5393Simon DerhamLittleton SC6‑17812161658
12th5582Andrew WilsonMaidenhead SC812121313‑1458
13th5300Doug LattaPorchester SC11111515‑181365
14th5535Tim JacksonPapercourt10159‑17151766
15th4679Mark FillerPapercourt141614‑19171172
16th5666Andrew BoycePapercourt1910171612‑2474
17th5080Fraser HaydenPapercourt(DNC)DNCDNC471578
18th5561Tim LewisIsland Barn(DNC)DNCDNC1161079
19th3803Alan RobertsLeigh on Sea17‑191914141882
20th5332Roger LumbySalcombe YC(DNF)131622191989
21st5575Shaun WelshWeston SC181818‑24202094
22nd5237Derek JackmanChichester YC1620(DNC)20212198
23rd4551Bill HutchingsTonbridge2021(DNC)212223107
24th4454Stas LawickiPapercourt(DNC)DNCDNC232322120
25th4204Roy NewportPapercourt(DNF)DNCDNC252425126

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