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XOD Wednesday Series at Royal Lymington Yacht Club - Race 12

by John Olliff-Cooper 12 Jul 16:12 BST 11 July 2018

Oh, that all races might be held in such blissful conditions. A grand fleet of twenty-one XODs assembled under an azure sky with a steady ten or eleven knots out of the south-west – sublime. The feisty ebb tide was due to change at around 3 o'clock offering the prospect of some tactical anticipation, and the usual last ditch fleet of 'what the hell' fliers.

The course was excellent:
B. Pennington – starboard
E. Pylewell – port
C. Oxey – port
E. Pylewell – port
Finish at the Club Platform

Most of the fleet opted for the stronger tide on the outer distance mark, and that certainly paid off, with the added advantage of a 15 degree heading shift. At the windward mark Team Paton in X48 turned just ahead of X32 Ibex, X33 Clare De Lune, and X34 Mersa – three consecutive Newman yachts like ducks in a row. Then followed X9 Zest sailed by Phil and Jo Brewer, and Chris Torrens (crewed by yacht racing superstar Dave Bedford) in X5 Madcap.

The decision then to be made was whether to sail the shorter rum-line to E, or to sail the longer but less tide-blighted course, inshore. The latter course proved to be much the better way, with skippers choosing not to interfere with each-other's wind in order to get clean away from the chasing fleet. That left the direct line sailors, notably X48 and Eric Williams in X34 Mersa, with a fair bit of catching-up to do. X32 Ibex also lost ground by staying too far out in the adverse tide.

At Pylewell mark X9 had built a fine lead, with X5 Madcap, X87 Excalibur, X72 Venus and X156 Gleam, in pursuit.

The beat to Oxey mark resulted in little change at the front of the fleet, although the tidal change to a west-going flood was just beginning to make itself felt as yachts turned towards the starting gate, and thence again to Pylewell mark. The order was X9, X5, X87, X156, X72, X48, and X32 Ibex. And that's where tidal matters became interesting – wonderful for some, and the dastardly intercedence of a vengeful god for others.

Turning Pylewell and heading for the finishing line, the leaders headed away from the shore on the assumption that the new flooding tide would be strongest inshore. They were wrong. XL and Ibex both headed shoreward and brilliantly overhauled the entire leading group except Zest. But it was a darned close thing. At the line Zest won, decisively and deservedly; 2nd was XL just ONE SECOND ahead of Ibex, who was in turn just FOUR SECONDS ahead of Excalibur, who had overhauled Madcap.

Yacht racing really doesn't get much better. XODs are fantastic yachts to sail, and on such a day, life can feel very sweet.


1st – X9 Zest – Phil and Jo Brewer
2nd – X48 XL – Rory Paton
3rd – X32 Ibex – Paul Woodman and Ollie James
4th – X87 Excalibur – John Olliff-Cooper and Dunlop Stewart
5th – X156 Gleam – James Meaning
6th – X5 Madcap – Chris Torrens

Full results can be found here.

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