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Chichester Gin Solo open meeting at Spinnaker Sailing Club

by Tom Campbell 20 Apr 16:03 BST
Ed Rogers (left) wins the Chichester Gin Solo open meeting at Spinnaker © Shaun Welsh

The Chichester Gin Spinnaker Open was held on a cold, but beautifully sunny spring Sunday. With South Easterly winds blowing across the lake, race officer Ed Morris set five short course races on a figure-of-eight. The wind varied from 7 to 20 knots throughout the day with frequent small shifts, although occasionally of more than the 20-30 degrees. Consequently, there were plenty of opportunities for big gains and losses, on all legs, the game of 'snakes and ladders' comes to mind.

The course for the first three races before lunch wrapped around the main island, giving plenty of tactical opportunity and advantage for those with requisite knowledge and skill...and maybe a little bit of good fortune.

Race 1

The race officer added further challenge by setting relatively short start lines, which required sound boat handling to get away in good shape a front row start was far from guaranteed and the race officer could be heard calling boat numbers for OCS once under way. With a port bias, but a short 1st beat with an island on the port side of it and a port rounding at the first mark where to start was a perplexing thought process.

Ben Pym and Ed Rogers popped out the left-hand side of the course, with Tom Campbell following around. A 'lucky' gust saw the unfortunate Ben Pym pincered, with a boat planing past on either side. Ed and Tom swapped positions a number of times, with Ed Rogers winning in the end, Tom Campbell second and Paul Trevan in third, Jamie Holmes in fourth and Ben Pym fifth.

Race 2

Starting strongly, Ed Rogers and Robin Milledge had fantastic first beats. Ed did a horizon job on the fleet and 1st was never in doubt. Tom Campbell, Ian Campbell and Jamie Holmes had great three-way gybing battle down the run, which continued up the next beat; but Jamie lost out when completing penalty turns. The mid-fleet ran out of runway for a five-way competition rounding the leeward mark an interesting rule scenario given the inside boats legitimately required mark room, but David Steele (the outside boat) also legitimately requesting for room to avoid beaching on the shore.

No boats were damaged, and gentlemanly conduct was maintained throughout but the two-way requests going back and forth along the line of boats as they sailed abreast round the mark did have some comedy value. At the last mark, Ian Campbell only after getting ahead of his son Tom, offered some parental guidance in respect Tom rounding the wrong mark - what is it they say about old age and treachery versus youth and enthusiasm? Ed Rogers showed solid consistency with another bullet, Ian Campbell second, Tom Campbell third, Jamie Holmes fourth and Robin Milledge fifth.

Race 3

The wind picked up with some good planing gusts for the last race before lunch, however with the wind shifting in the gusts, there were some unlucky bathers the cold water may have kept the weed at bay, but made for a chilly swim. As the fleet were already approaching the top mark, Jamie Holmes after returning to the line after being OCS managed a capsize onto the anchored committee boat and was saved filling his boat too badly as a result; does this constitute 'outside assistance'?

Ed Rogers and Ian Campbell, at different times, both fell afoul of shifts and hit the top mark, meaning penalty turns. Tom Campbell managed to escape Ben Pym, with a first place followed by Ben in second, David Steele third, and in view of his start to this race a very credible fourth place for Jamie Holmes with Ian Campbell in fifth for whom this was his last race of the day, leaving us for a pressing social engagement.

Competitors went ashore and enjoyed some healthy post-race analysis over lunch, whilst noting the clear increase in wind strength and that the race officer had adjusted the course into the north eastern area of the lake... now comprising a series of windwardleeward legs. The change in conditions further increased the opportunities for 'hero-to-zero' moments... and vice versa!

Race 4

With the wind doing a big swing to the right, the need to flick onto port early off the line, made a front row start even more important Ed Rogers and Tom Campbell managed to pop out to front. But, Ed Rogers was however caught out by the very unpredictable conditions and managed to dunk both gunwales, before 'choosing' to fall elegantly in to windward, whilst Ben Pym chose a more traditional leeward capsize. Finishing first was Tom Campbell, second Ed Rogers, third Shaun Welsh, Jamie Holmes in fourth and Ben Pym in fifth.

The stage was now set and the overall winner of the Chichester Harbour Gin Spinnaker Solo Open meeting would be decided in the final race of the day.

Race 5

After the starting gun, Ed Rogers was asking the committee boat whether it was him who was over the line; but enjoyed a sportsmanlike wry smile when the sail number called from the committee boat was that of Tom Campbell, who had pushed the envelope too far under pressure. After his return to the line, Tom Campbell was in last place around the first mark. Jamie Holmes regained his usual form and finished the day with a first place, Ed Rogers came in second in front of Robin Milledge in third. Tom Campbell achieved a most respectable fourth place after a poor start and Ben Pym came in fifth.

The overall winner was Ed Rogers on 6 points and a very close Tom Campbell on 7 points. Jamie Holmes came third and Ben Pym fourth. Robin Milledge has been improving steadily since buying his first Solo a few months ago and was fifth overall.

Trophies were awarded accordingly, and much appreciation goes to Chichester Harbour Gin for their generous sponsorship. A spot prize of a 70cl bottle of Chichester Harbour Gin was given by way of a random number selection on a mobile phone app... the tension within the room faded with disappointment for all but Shaun Welsh who took the gin home!

A great days racing with particular thanks to Chichester Harbour Gin; Spinnaker Sailing Club and the Race Officer Ed Morris, with his team of volunteers.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmR1R2R3R4R5Pts
15291Ed Rogers11‑6226
25824Tom Campbell2311‑47
3569Jamie Holmes44‑84113
44356Ben Pym5‑625517
55354Robin Milledsge659‑10323
64817D Steele7‑1437623
75778Shaun Welsh98‑123727
85575Paul Trevan37‑109827
95584Ian Campbell825(DNS)DNS30
105570Malcolm Buchanan‑111146930
115581John Driscoll‑12127111141
124384Paul Gray1310‑1481041
135560Charles Stimpson10‑1311121245
145327Dick Meredith14913(DNS)DNS51
155838Michael Wilde‑151515DNSDNS60

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