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Ocean Elements 2018

Dubarry Women's Open Keelboat Championship at Hamble River Sailing Club

by Trevor Pountain 5 Jun 16:18 BST 2-3 June 2018

The 10th Dubarry Women's Open Keelboat Championship took place in the Solent on 2nd & 3rd of June 2018, hosted once again by the Hamble River Sailing Club.

For the second year running 20 boats came to the start line, but, they were bigger boats so a record number of 170 women sailors attended the 10th Anniversary event. As usual the Friday night briefing contained a number of entertaining presentations. First was progress report on the "new" Maiden project. This was followed by Saskia Clark, tactician on Journey Maker 11 for the weekend, detailing the trials and tribulations of her medal winning Olympic campaigns. Josie Gliddon then bravely took on the responsibility of the weather forecast for the weekend. "There are no isobars anywhere in Europe" she stated looking at the synoptic charts for the next two days. She then advised competitors to don cheap sunglasses and look out of the boat for any sign of moving air pollution. This would give a clue to where the new wind would come from. Best guess from the East.

Kathy Smalley and her race team need not have worried. There were no fog horns in evidence overnight and as they approached the start area, a steady 14 knots from the South West, proved once again that the Solent does not necessarily need an isobar to have wind. As the Nobel Prize winner for Literature, Robert Allan Zimmerman, once said "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows". The hook was dropped near Royal Southern (4S) and with a windward mark of East Knoll (4H) proceedings got underway on time. In Class 1, Night Owl 11, Charlotte Hauser, led away from the windward mark, but unfortunately went to the wrong next laid mark, 8 Charlie not 8 Alpha, we've all done it! This allowed Devanti Dream Team, Marie-Claude Heys and Becky Walford, R&W, Christine Allen and Journey Maker 11, Laura Dillon and Louise Makin to battle it out for first spot. They finished in that order. In Class 2, Jybe Talkin, Chloe Slater and Cressida Robson, came in first with Wildcat 111, Lucy Burn, second and Jolly Jack Tar, Laura Blagden in third.

The breeze stiffened slowly until, by Race 3, a good 20 knots was blowing against the ebb tide. There were a number of lessons learned about getting spinnakers down in plenty of time when approaching the leeward mark at speed. Even after the finish it pays to remove the kite quickly. Arthur, Hannah Stodel, with guy and sheet intertwined and the halyard reluctant to release, managed to prevent a visit to Lee on the Solent by motoring up wind with everything still flying. The situation was only finally resolved when a brave women went aloft.

At the end of day one, Marie-Claude Heys, who had been heard grumbling that she "would have liked an Olympic tactician", sailed Devanti Dream Team to three first places in Class 1. Wild Cat 111, Lucy Burn, was leading Boysterous, Josie Gliddon, in Class 2.

Owing to the increase in numbers, the Saturday night party was moved to the Hamble Memorial Hall, which was suitably dressed and pom-pommed for the evening. The annual raffle raised over £1,000 for Breast Cancer Care and The Hamble Lifeboat. If there was a prize for partying the ladies from Voodoo, Verity Rouse and the RORC U35 Team, would have won it by a nautical mile. They were still going strong when your correspondent had long since retired for the night.

On Sunday morning the River Hamble and the Solent were like glass. Not a ripple. The committee boat went on station at hamblewinterseries.com (4J) and waited. One by one the yachts appeared and anchored. Not surprisingly Voodoo appeared last but the AP saved her. Cheap sun glasses were now deployed in earnest but to no avail. The CRO so calm in the wind on Saturday now became twitchy, rushing here and there muttering to herself. "Relax Kathy" an old wag on the boat said "There's no rush to make a cock up". Those crews who had gone to bed early now began to show the energy they had saved. Jolly Jack Tar started things off with a rendition of YMCA, but they were soon out gunned by Thunderbird with the whole crew doing the Macarena in perfect unison, whilst motoring in a circle. BGT auditions next I think.

Eventually a light light breeze from just east of south crept towards the fleet. Slowly it built to 6 knots from the SE and a windward mark was dropped 0.5 miles to windward. The line was set and all was well for day two racing. All that is, apart from Uproar, Mellissa Chapman, who found herself in the middle of the start line unable to retrieve her anchor. Undeterred Class 1 started managing to avoid the bright orange Impala. By the second start Uproar had removed her cable from the keel and was able to start on time. Gradually the breeze built and for the second race the windward mark went out to 0.9 of a mile. The racing was much closer in the lighter conditions with bunched groups rounding the leeward mark.

In Class 1, Davanti Dream Team, scored two more bullets, to take the class, but they were less comfortable bullets than the day before. R&W with three second places came second overall with the defending champions, Journey Maker 11, third. In Class 2, Wild Cat 111 with 8 points, beat Boysterous, (9 points) and Chimp, Amanda Marino (10 points).

Dubarry provided some excellent prizes for the winners and for the "Best Effort". This was close run thing between Thunderbirds dancing and Arthur. In the end Arthur won for retrieving the kite by sending a woman up the mast.

The overall champion was Davanti Dream Team in the J112e co skippered by Mari-Claude Heys and Becky Walford. A relieved Marie-Claude, second in 4 or 5 previous championships, received the trophy from Sarah McColl of the WOKC Team.

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