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Salcombe Yacht Club Summer Series - Race 2

by Graham Cranford Smith 19 Jun 2017 11:37 BST 17 June 2017

Salcombe put on a show last Saturday, for sure. With air temperatures soaring into the late twenties and wall to wall sunshine it is hard to think of a more agreeable spot to go sailing, even if the wind was a bit light.

SYC held race 2 of the for once aptly named Summer series. Stalwart sailors who braved the adverse conditions the preceding week were joined by more hedonistic arrivistes who swelled the numbers to very decent proportions. It was particularly pleasing to see ten Salcombe Yawls appear on the start line.

Customer feedback to the race officer post-race was varied; the trip out to the Salcombe Bar, to mark M under Bolt head on a briskly ebbing tide was described by some, as "interesting", "courageous", and probably out of his earshot, "rather stupid". It was however, where the windward mark was located. Thereafter a massive run up to Gerston via the Bag and all that this connotes.

Whatever the case, a decent Southerly force 2-3 produced a long first beat out to the bar. With plenty of place changing this made for a spectacular sight. Lots of shifts, apparently.

First off were the cadets followed by the medium handicap. Five Laser Radials, an Aero 7 and a Wayfarer. The fast handicap comprised a loaned Phantom, three Twelves, the Squire families pair of Merlins and Alister "Oh dear, I am late for the start...again" Morley in a Musto Skiff. The MPS is a brave choice of craft for the confines of the estuary. Alister reported later an encounter with a concrete dredging platform resulting in a shortened tiller extension though no apparent loss of humour on his part. Indeed a powerful sense of humour plus a cavalier approach to risk, is a pre-requisite for any MPS helm, let alone one who plans to race this type in Salcombe.

Salcombe can lay some claim to being Solo central. Club races frequently take the form of miniature open meetings. Fifteen Solos.

It would be wrong to describe the long drag to Gerston, against the ebbing tide as processional. Once in the Bag, the sea breeze evaporated. Helms were confronted with a kaleidoscope of choices to gain an edge. In fact, initial race officer concerns that the fleet would not make it back from the Bar against the briskly ebbing tide, morphed into a worry that the fleets might not in fact return from Kingsbridge before nightfall. The winds at times became a zephyr. Crews in the sweltering heat sought to maintain calm. It was not a day for the full on winter wetsuit.

As so often the case in Salcombe the dilemma is, which bank to choose? When to cross the stream? Certainly, old hands will tell you that there are certainties except of course, when there are not. All post-race accounts indicated that the lower line past Saltstone was the way to go. Pressure this day, was king.

Already with a decent start in hand, Malcolm Mackley, not quite Father of the Solo fleet, but getting there, out-foxed the very handy Simon Dobson arriving at Gerston first. He in turn was hotly pursued by series leader, Andrew Bourne who had earlier been on the cusp of OCS at the start.

First back from the race box perspective was the smoothly sailed Aero 7 helmed by Paul Ingham who claimed first. He had built a massive lead on the battling Laser Radials of Toby Rew and Charlie Blazeby, brothers in arms.

By the finish, Simon Dobson had re-asserted his authority over the Solo fleet. Simon sails with a lot less rake than many and also favours a dacron sail though has ditched wooden battens. Even so, Jack Holt, would be pleased, one fancies. Mr Blue Sky, helmed by "The Professor" Mackley sporting an HD Golden sail, stole a very respectable second with Andrew Bourne, a creditable third.

Yawl wise, Frank Rowsell, was runaway winner in Spruce Goose, which is usually David Greening's ride. Geof Gilson and Chris Spencer Chapman followed Yawl 132 into third.

While correctly, Mothering Sunday, the same nomenclature, "Fathering Sunday", does not apply to Father's day. This apparently is a pagan occasion invented by a French company to promote a new cigarette lighter so their men-folk more easily light their Gitanes.

SYC got round the problem by running a Father's day pursuit race:

1st Gail and Dan Bridger, Yawl
2nd Chris Spencer Chapman, Solo
3rd Robin Hodges

Sincere thanks to Jayne Morris and her race team for laying that race on.

There is still time to enter the SALCOMBE GIN REGATTA 13th – 18th August. FREE ENTRY TO UNI STUDENTS. BRING A FIREFLY.