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Optimum Time Watches Phantom Southern Series at Downs Sailing Club

by Chris Shelton 18 Jul 21:45 BST 14-15 July 2018

Unfortunately a combination of injuries, weddings and a very light forecast resulted in a disappointing entry, but the sailors who did attend had some very close competitive racing, and by combining the event with the Contender class there was a reasonable number of boats on the water.

As the boats rigged on Saturday morning there was 5 knots ENE and this was forecast to increase by the scheduled start time of 1300 hrs. As the forecast for Sunday was even lighter, the Race Officer made the (wise) decision to run four races on the Saturday afternoon in case Sunday dawned with very little wind.

After a short hold on the beach, the fleet launched into about 8 knots NE and a strong flood tide. Race 1 got underway with everyone being cautious on the line, not wanting to be swept across and receive an OCS. At the windward mark it was Chris Shelton who lead, closely followed by Richard White and Simon Green. Richard showed some impressive speed on the reaches to take the lead by the leeward mark. In the meantime, following a poor start, Steve Popple had very good boat speed to windward in his brand new boat and was slowly catching the leading pack of three. On the second lap there was even more place changing with Simon staying the mix. However by the finish Chris had manged to get ahead again and Simon had overhauled Richard to take second.

Race 2 followed a similar pattern, but this time it was Steve round the windward mark first. However Chris, Richard and Simon were not far behind and all four boats were continually changing places around the course. On the final triangle Chris managed to pull ahead again, but this time it was Richard second and Simon third.

The start of race 3 saw Richard and Chris parked up on the start line which allowed Peter Harlow to cross the line at speed and into the lead. However by the windward mark the rest of the fleet had caught up and once again the merry-go-round of place changing started. By this time the tide had slacked and the wind had also dropped slightly. Working the shifts on the beats became more important, as did finding good pressure downwind. By the final triangle a similar pattern had emerged, Chris in front, Simon second this time and Richard third.

The ebb tide had kicked in by the time race 4 started and this resulted in the boats taking a long starboard tack course to stay further inshore. At the windward mark Simon and Chris arrived simultaneously on port, but crucially Chris was inside as both boats tacked and was first onto the reach. Richard and Peter were not far behind in that order. In contrast to all of the previous races, places stayed exactly the same for the duration of this race. The ebb tide gave less choice of routes on the windward legs and the distance between the boats slowly increased as the race progressed.

It had been a long afternoon on the water, and the sailors gratefully returned to shore ready for the free evening meal in the clubhouse. The meal was accompanied by live music from the popular Jackson Bell Duo and plenty of liquid refreshment.

Unfortunately Sunday morning dawned precisely as forecast with the occasional 2 knot Easterly in-between periods of flat calm. However all was not lost as the competitors tucked into a full English as the AP was hoisted. The Race Officer announced that the wind was forecast to increase (slightly), and he was going to take advantage of the short slack water period due about 11am. However the wind was a little late arriving and by the time race 5 started about 11.30 the flood tide had already started.

Simon Green made a cracking start on port and was soon ahead on the long slow port tack beat against the tide. Richard was second with Chris uncharacteristically in third. The boats remained in this formation until the first reach where once again Richard showed his downwind speed to overhaul Simon. By the time the second beat started the wind was back down to about 3 knots and the tide was getting stronger. This meant that almost the whole windward leg was spent on port tack lee-bowing the tide, with the boats staying in the same positions.

After a long, slow run the competitors were grateful to see the Shorten Course signal, with Richard crossing the line first, Simon second and Chris third. As the wind was showing no signs of improving, and the tide was getting stronger, race 6 was cancelled and the competitors returned to shore to be greeted by the Band of the Royal Marines playing at the bandstand and a Spitfire fly-over.

Congratulations must go to Race Officer Steve Restall for getting in five races over a difficult weekend. Thanks also to all of the Downs Sailing Club volunteers who gave up their time over the weekend to man the safety boats, beach-party, canteen, bar etc. to make the event a success.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoClubHelmR1R2R3R4R5Pts
1st1211Downs SCChris Shelton1111‑34
2nd1364Downs SCSimon Green2‑32228
3rd1254Downs SCRichard White‑323319
4th1277Lilliput SCPete Harlow5544‑618
5th1460Shoreham SCSteve Popple44‑6‑6‑620

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