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Lymington Dinghy Regatta 2017

by Emma McEwen 21 Jul 2017 08:54 BST 15-16 July 2017
Lymington Dinghy Regatta 2017 © Vicky Leen

The biggest ever Lymington Dinghy Regatta attracted over 130 boats including 60 visitors, who came for two days of exciting racing in the Solent.

Jointly hosted by the Lymington Town Sailing Club and the Royal Lymington Yacht Club, the weekend was made a great success by the hard work of dozens of volunteers helping on and off the water and a great spirit of cooperation between the two clubs. The regatta was generously sponsored by Lymington businesses Nick Cox Chandlery and Harken UK.

Racing started on Saturday afternoon in a strong force 5-6 and surprisingly big waves. Due to the conditions only one race could be completed, but that was enough for most sailors with several involuntary swims keeping all 12 safety boats busy. Everyone had plenty to talk about afterwards over tea and doughnuts and then a beer or two in the evening. Sunday brought a perfect force 4 and flat water, so all the classes had their three scheduled races; the sun came out and there were smiles all round. Of the seven classes, five were won by local sailors. Winners of the Fast Handicap were Brian and David Earl (good preparation for defending their European Championship title in their Javelin). Fenella Bennet and Emily Gent dominated the Medium Handicap in their 420, while Robbie Claridge was similarly successful in the Slow Handicap in his Lightning 368. The closely-fought RS400 class was won by a single point by Jon Heissig and Nicky Griffin. Luke and Emma McEwen won the skiff class in their RS800, while visiting Merlin Rocket sailors William Warren and Sophie Macklay won their class. The biggest turnout, with 30 boats, was the RS Aero class which finished with Peter Barton and Paul Bartlett tied on equal points, Bartlett winning the tie-break on the last race.

The weekend's racing was split across two courses, East & West of the Lymington river entrance. The West course was run by Paul Stickley and his Royal Lymington YC race team with the Slow and Medium Handicap fleets racing alongside the RS Aero class, each with their own start.

Here' s a view of the event from the East Course:

The East race course at this year's Lymington Dinghy Regatta was where all the fast and tippy boats got sent to do battle on the water. Saturday's rather feisty conditions caught more than a few unprepared as they left the relative tranquillity of the Lymington River in to the open Solent. The day only served to prove that fast and tippy boats do indeed go fast and then tip over... The most hardy and determined thrashed around the race course not always in the most pretty and elegant fashion but enjoyed some exhilarating downwind flying and close quarters duelling on the upwind legs. Those crews with trapezes could be smug one moment that they weren't having to hike and then reconsider the next as they were propelled the extra distance into the water as the bow went down the mine!

After completing one race, the sensible teams decided to return to the shore to do some suddenly essential boat-bimbling while the rest bobbed about waiting for race two. But with deteriorating weather conditions and a fully pressed safety boat team, John Whyte and his LTSC race team made the prudent decision to send us all home for our well received tea and doughnuts.

With luckily only one mast casualty but a number of main halyard and jib batten failures, boats and crews were repaired and rested before a hearty paella dinner at the Royal Lymington YC. A number of beers may have been consumed in preparation for the next day's racing.

Sunday dawned with an ideal breeze and flat water. This resulted in a perfect day's racing for all the fast and tippy boats. The Merlin Rockets were the first fleet to start – stylishly jostling their way round a square course. Next off was the skiff class – RS800s, RS700s and Musto Skiffs; the fastest boats completing four windward-leeward laps each race with the Fast Handicap class. Last off were the RS400s - the largest fleet on the course with undoubtedly the closest boat on boat racing. The keen use of the U-flag by the race team and a flood tide meant all the starts got away cleanly. If racing with 60-plus dinghies was not busy enough, the competitors had the added challenge of the yachts racing in the Royal Solent YC's Tattinger Regatta beating straight through the race course, tacking up the mainland shore just where we wanted to be too.

After three cracking races the fleets sailed back up the Lymington River to be greeted by fabulous sunshine, a welcome army of cheerful helpers delivering our trolleys on cue as we arrived at the slipway and of course, more tea and doughnuts!

The winners made off with lots of fabulous booty generously donated by Gill, Nick Cox Chandlery and Harken UK and all of us left on a bit of a high after a great weekend's racing and hospitality by both the Royal Lymington YC and the Lymington Town SC. Thank you to everyone from both clubs for their enthusiasm and hard work in making this such a fun event once again.

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