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International OK Dinghy Open at South Staffordshire Sailing Club

by Rodney Tidd 24 Oct 2017 07:59 BST 21 October 2017
Battling Storm Brian during the South Staffs OK Open © Tim Coleshaw

Saturday saw the final event of the HD Sails OK Inland Series held at the mecca of inland OK sailing, South Staffs Sailing Club. Early signs suggested a good attendance with people looking for any excuse to come and sample the stable winds and steady rollers that South Staffs has to offer...

Unfortunately this was not to be the case as some bloke called Brian threatened to ruin the day. The early expression of interest turned to concern as multiple competitors decided that this Brian was not one to mess with and that it would be safer to stay indoors.

The organisers considered the options as the week went on and after consulting the South Staffs elders decided to call Brian's bluff and go ahead with the event anyway.

The forecast was for the wind to build throughout the day and expert PRO Tony Hotchkiss and his race team were keen to get at least one start underway before Brian reared his head. 4 hardy competitors made their way out for the start of the first race in a building breeze and surprisingly all got away cleanly at the start. Brian took his first casualty mid-way up the first beat as Sam Thompson was hit by small header taking a little dip into Windward. At the first mark it was local youngster Ed Bradburn in the lead ahead of recently converted Solo sailor Ian Hopwood with Rodney Tidd in third. Brian took his next victim down the run, unfortunately again this was Sam Thompson who exploded in a ball of spray and finally decided he disliked Brian intensely and called it a day. The race went on with the positions remaining the same until Rodney Tidd also decided mid-race that this tosser Brian was bringing some unusually large shifts to the normally Garda'esque South Staffs and promptly called it a day. Ed and Ian both survived the race and finished 1 and 2 respectively, with Ian demonstrating an International Moth style landing by swimming his capsized boat into the shore.

Lunch saw the arrival of the Northern Powerhouse that is Ben Steel to add to the party. Not one to shy away from strong winds and cold weather he took to the water in his t-shirt along with the remaining two survivors for Race 2 and 3. The 5 minute gun sounded and Brian decided it was time to up the antics slightly. At the first mark it was The Powerhouse in the lead with Ian "this boat is much more fun than my other one" Hopwood snapping at his heals and Old Ed rounding in third. Down the run Ben and Ian both went high with Ed managing to soak low in a gust which took him clean underneath the two of them and into the lead. The last lap saw Ben mount a last minute charge resulting in a close cover up the final beat to retain the lead. Final results were Ed 1st, Ben 2nd and Ian 3rd

The same three remained for the final race and after no hanging around Tony and his team shortened the start line further for comedy value and had us straight into sequence. The start saw an individual recall for Old Ed as Ian nailed the pin and Ben followed shortly behind. At the first mark Ian lead from Ben with Ed playing catch up at the rear. The first lap saw a good tussle between Ben and Ian with Ben eventually taking the lead and pulling out some distance. By this point the gusts where coming through the strongest they had all day causing some code brown downwind moments and some challenging upwind sailing. Mid race Ed caught one of these gusts to catch up with Ian and after a bit of a scrap took second with Ben still some distance ahead. Another challenging upwind and Ian had regained second from Ed with Ben still ahead but not as close as before. The penultimate beat saw all three bunch up again. Ian took to the centre of the lake with Ed and Ben both sticking close to the shore. At the windward buoy it was Ian in the lead with Ben second and Ed back in third again. The final reach saw Ed sail underneath Ben into second with Ian still making a final dash for the last beat. The leeward mark rounding saw Ben use too much of his Northern power as he capsized to windward. The capsize was short lived with Brian deciding to flip the mast back upright the way it had come chinning Ben in the process.

The final beat saw Ed and Ian split with Ed benefiting from a big right hand shift. At the top mark Ed gained a starboard advantage on Ian forcing him to tack clear. No sooner had he tacked when the wind promptly backed forcing Ian almost into windward and Ed into evasive maneuvers behind. That evasive maneuver saw Ed cross 1st ahead of Ian in 2nd and Ben, still nursing his wounded chin, in 3rd.

Despite the low turnout a great day was had by all with the last race providing as close racing as possible in the challenging conditions.

Overall Results:

1st Old Ed
2nd Ian "much more fun than a solo" Hopwood
3rd Ben "please don't make me write the report" Steel

The Dave Danbury Memorial trophy, usually awarded to the first junior was presented by Carol Danbury to Sam Thompson for his epic downwind capsize during the first race.

Thanks as always go to South Staffs and all the members for a great fun event. Let hope this bloke Brian doesn't scare everyone off next year.

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