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Osprey Open at Highcliffe Sailing Club

by Pete Mallaband 12 Jun 2018 20:15 BST 9-10 June 2018
Martin Cooney & Peter Frith lead a spinnaker leg during the Highcliffe Osprey Open © Stephen Waite

The weekend of 9th & 10th June saw a good fleet of ten Ospreys assemble at Highcliffe despite a weather forecast of pretty much no wind! For this event the Ospreys joined in with the Contender Open Meeting – thanks for having us guys.

The normal collection of Castle Cove and Poole boats arrived but also travellers from as far afield as Mounts Bay, Whitefriars (Cirencester) (the author!) and Carsington. A couple of 'scratch' teams joined up for the weekend, notably Ben Hawkes, winner of the Inlands a fortnight earlier and Alex Willis who had come 3rd. Their biggest debate seemed to be who was going to sit at which end of the boat.

A bit of sea breeze filled in for the first race on the Saturday, which gave a pretty good 10kt breeze. A good start by all and a number of boats including yours faithfully in 1365, Paul Heather in 1292 and the Odlings in 1085 went right up the first beat – mistake! The boats to the left clearly had a slight advantage. There followed a triangle, sausage course with the wind just slowly dying off. The fleet was as usual pretty bunched up and we were just nicely ahead of 1292 until the gybe mark. This is when the guys who have sailed together for a long time came into their own. Whilst we did an ok gybe, they nicked around inside us with a very smart gybe and we couldn't catch them again. This is the beauty of class racing. At this point Piers and Phil in String Driven Thing were looking in a great position closely followed by Martin and Peter.

As the wind dropped completely, racing was abandoned for the rest of the afternoon. The fleet then retired to the bar rather too early, and Highcliffe then put on a really good supper to help soak up some of the beer!

Sunday morning looked pretty much the same as the previous early afternoon, though the wind was probably about 8kts max. 3 races were scheduled and again the fleet got away cleanly for the first start. Again really close fleet racing this time with Martin and Peter nicking the bullet from Piers and Phil. The Odlings clearly went the right way this time and came in 3rd.

The race officer then got the 2nd race of the day off as quickly as possible. Martin and Peter were very strong now and clearly had the win in their sights. Peter said afterwards that they had a good start and then sailed up the middle keeping an eye on any threats from other boats. We (1365) decided to go right and suddenly there we were at the windward mark in 4th place – uncharted territory!! At this time we were ahead of Piers and Phil and I explained to my crew that this was a bit like being in front of Mo Farrah, doesn't happen often but enjoy the moment! My boat is actually called Carpe Diem – very apt. Anyway we were quickly rolled on the first kite reach by 1352 and also 1116 but still had a good number of boats behind us. Pride cometh before a fall – I think this is the saying – trying to get a bit of a roll in the gybe I completely missed the toe strap and did a very accomplished backward roll off the boat to the great amusement of all those following. Shouts of "Severn" were to be heard across the water! My crew quickly hauled me back on board and we dashed off after the fleet in a dying breeze. I'm not sure whether the shock of seeing us in front of them for a while or whether they had a problem but Piers and Phil gradually lost more places as the wind gradually disappeared whilst Martin and Peter strengthened their hold. For the 2nd lap, although a bit behind, we again went right, no one else seemed to really do this, not sure whether we found more wind or a favourable tide but we were now catching up the fleet and passed Ben and Alex up to the windward mark. Ben and Alex gybed off to get out of our bad wind. Rob Panting, my long suffering crew, did a brilliant job of just managing to keep the kite flying all the way down and we held that to the leeward mark and then hardened up to finish.

With the wind now almost completely gone, further racing was abandoned.

Ben said afterwards that by then he and Alex were just 'goofing around' a bit – but hey, I'm doing the write up, so it was clearly a major tactical success to finish ahead of them. Alex and Ben obviously were still debating who should drive, as on the way home they could both be seen trapezing on either side of the boat!! Without a harness Ben clearly showing off his core strength!

As a newbie to the fleet I asked a couple of teams how they set up for upwind. Peter and Martin said that they always sail loose and fast and only put the board fully down if they need to point up to the windward mark, ok so they finished first, that must be the trick. However talking to another team who weren't far behind, they reckoned going high and pointing like crazy with the boom absolutely centred was the trick – ok so that clears that up!

From our point of view, we learnt masses. We played around with board settings up wind and realised that we also need to work on our boat handling skills to compete at this level. It was also pretty clear that places were won and lost by small factors. Boats might be 3rd in one race and 9th in the next. It was certainly not a procession.

The event was won by Martin Cooney and Peter Frith with a consistent 2,1,1. Second came Piers Strong and Phil Angrave with 1,2 and 8. Third came Terry Curtis and Andy Rushworth who improved during the event to post 5,5,2.

Many thanks must go to all the teams at Highcliffe, both onshore, in the galley, and also the race team and safety crews afloat. The race officer coped brilliantly with shifting breezes to get in a total of three races.

Next weekend, June 16/17 the fleet are off to Isle of Sheppey, with a free coaching day there on Friday 15th, and the following open is at Poole on June 30/ July 1. A busy calendar as we build up towards our Nationals at Weymouth on August 16-19.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3Pts
1st1290Martin CooneyPeter FrithPoole YC2114
2nd1352Piers StrongPhil AngravePoole YC12811
3rd1234Terry CurtisAndy RushworthCastle Cove SC55212
4th1116Sam BarkerMike GreigMounts Bay SC39315
5th1363Alistair RaynardRob BurdekinCarsington SC44715
6th1085George OdlingHarry OdlingPlymouth Uni83617
7th1298Michael AtkinsonRichard BowersPoole YC68418
8th1292Paul HeatherJonathan OsgoodAldenham SC96520
9th1291Ben HawkesAlex WillisCastle Cove SC771024
10th1365Peter MallabandRob PantingWhitefriars SC1010929

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