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Highcliffe Sailing Club Icicle Series - Day 1

by Neil Barstow 11 Jan 12:16 GMT 6 January 2019
Highcliffe Sailing Club Icicle Series day 1 © Melanie Blackman

With the temperature reaching a balmy 4o C compared to the sub zero weather the previous day and wind and tide set to be perfect to pull the unwary sailor down The Run, the Icicle Harbour Series hosted by Highcliffe Sailing Club could not have started on a more inviting morning as six local clubs took part in the first races of 2019 on Sunday 6 January.

28 competitors jostled for the best of the 4-knot (gusting 5 knot) wind at the start line for the first race in a fleet that included Finns, Lasers, Solos, RS Aeros, Mirrors and a single Topper. Members from Highcliffe, Christchurch, Lymington Town, Keyhaven, Spinnaker and Mudeford Sailing Clubs and other guests got off to a slow start at they headed for the windward mark in front of the Christchurch Harbour Hotel from the Mudeford Quay RNLI Station. Crossing this line proved the only aspect of drama as one competitor transited seconds too soon resulting in a disqualification.

The fleet soon split into a contest between the competitors in the Finn Class and everyone else. Rounding the gube mark provided difficult for some as the ebbing tide meant that the notorious sand bars of the harbour came into play for those in the second half of the standings. Rusty post Christmas tactics contributed to the decision to shorten the course following the first lap with A Atkins of CSC (Finn) claiming first place after 21 minutes and 44 seconds. New (Finn) followed across the line two seconds later and a third place from Denison (Finn) completed a hat trick for Christchurch Sailing Club and the Finn Class entries.

Following a repositioning of the wing mark towards the main channel and Devil's Dyke at Hengistbury Head and extension of the start line to allow the field to gain some clear wind the second race commenced without foul. The north westerly had picked a little and better lines from the sailors meant that all completed at least two laps bar one retiree. The lone Laser of Rusden, Highcliffe Sailing Club, challenged this race the dominance of the Finn class.

The fleet made a comparatively speedy pace to the first mark and despite the tide being in full flow managed the upwind section of the course well. The extra water provided at the gybe mark made for a longer downwind leg for with spinnakers and some unorthodox tactics more akin to windsurfing deployed to capture every breath of air available. The sight of the full spread of craft against the backdrop of Stanpit Marshes and Priory Church provided some iconic shots for the two race photographers. The stronger wind meant that all competitors navigated the pull of the retreating tide across the entrance to The Run as they headed for the finish.

The leaders completed three laps in less that the time it took to complete one in the first race; the second of the series was won by Arnell (Finn) of Christchurch Sailing Club who finished 35 seconds ahead of his fellow club member and Finn racer Atkins. Home club cheers rang out for Rusden who crossed the line in his Laser third place less than a minute later breaking the total dominance of the single class and club.

A thoroughly refreshing two hours on the water saw the series standings as A Atkins (Finn, Christchurch) first with three points, Denison (Finn, Christchurch) on 7 points in second and both the third and fourth place, New (Finn, Christchurch) and Rusden (Laser, Highcliffe), on 8 points.

The Icicle Harbour Series reconvenes at 10:30am on Sunday 20 January where RS Aero UK Winter Series will join local sailors and Highcliffe Sailing Club will provide refreshments and warmth for those tempted to spectate.

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