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P&B Solo Vintage Championship - A Salcombe Gin Classic

by Will Loy 23 May 17:28 BST
Dave Goudie wins the P&B Solo Vintage Championship © Will Loy

Seven visitors joined the strong home fleet of vintage Solos to contest the second running of the Vintage Championship at Leigh-on-Sea on the east coast. This picturesque venue is a little bit of a hidden gem with quaint little bars, pie and mash cafes and of course a little sandy beach.

Launching was easy from the afore-mentioned beach, while the locals use the purpose built ramps with on suite berthing slots.

Organiser Colin Walker had extinguished my pre-event 'wind' worries, predicting a sea breeze and some good racing... he was correct in both cases. I would suggest he launches his own weather blog, "Wind Walker" maybe.

Colin had managed to procure sponsorship from P&B, a long time supporter of the Solo class and let's face it, a campaign in a 20 year old Solo will require plenty of time and some new chandlery. Rooster sailing had also come in with some prizes and to top it all, the NSCA had chosen this event as one of four Salcombe Gin 'Classics', to celebrate the history of the class and the role that the older Solos play in it's continued popularity.

I waited patiently dockside for my connecting rib to committee boat to arrive, on time, pending the tide and watched with more than a dollop of nostalgia as the sailors rigged their old Solos. Sail numbers from the past triggered pleasant memories of old friends and good times on and off the water. 3325 took to the water, that was Roger Harford's new Solo back in 1979, I know because he sold me his old one, 1621.

Dave Goudie slid a very nice looking HD sail up the mast of his beautifully finished Gosling, 4040. Wow, this was originally owned by Ian Houston and it won races at the Inland Championship in 1996-97 before changing hands to the late great John Daniels. John was the Devil's Advocate at almost every AGM that I went to, a stickler for ensuring the Solo measurers kept the Solo builders on the straight and narrow.

My uber arrived, fittingly constructed in rubber and I negotiated the crustacean covered ladder in a manner not dissimilar to Douglas Bader disembarking his Spitfire.

The tide was rushing in and beached hulls began to lift, keen to turn towards their anchors and into the headwind of a building breeze. The committee boat was in sight and I must say, the generously decked catamaran would prove to be the pinnacle of my media platform experiences. I had indeed come a long way from the Goose poo covered roto moulded 'jaffa' many grass root clubs provide.

The race team motored to the race area, the sea state gentle, wind direction running with the tide and kettle boiling. The starting area filled with 20 year old (and over) Solos, suitably pimped with the latest exotic laminate sails. Wooden Threshers, easily time stamped by their various bow profiles cut through the building chop. A Severn Sailboat composite with brand spanking new North sail whizzed past while an Avacraft with its distinctive top line livery testing the line bias.

Race 1

With the sun shining and the north easterly swinging right the fleet set off up the short leg to the top mark. From my lofty position on the Cat I judged that starting at the pin end, out of the main tide would be beneficial. Fortunately the cat was moored so I was unable to carry out my tactic.

With the stronger breeze on the right of the course and lifting it was 4040, Dave Goudie who nailed the beat with 3325 John Charles a close second. Jonny Wells, previous winner sailing 3903 was third with Toby Smith 3914 and Alan Roberts 3710 in close pursuit. The fleet completed the trapezoid course and set off for round two. Goudie was in impressive form, he races at Grafham water against Ewan Birkin Walls and Ian Walters and this has clearly improved his race craft.

Charles and Wells continued to ding dong allowing Goudie to sail away to his first bullet with Charles holding off the defending champion for a well deserved second.

Race 2

Pin end favoured and Wells and Simon Smith 3574 were early, rounding the end to exonerate themselves while Goudie and Charles timed their starts perfectly. A flick onto port and the fleet were close to the laymen into the top mark. Once again Goudie led with Charles and Wells again contesting second while the rest of the fleet did their best to shorten the distance from the leaders. The sun had been sheathed by some high cloud, the easterly beginning to bite as it increased to 10-12 knots. I warmed my hands around a hot coffee, berating my decision to leave the fleece in the car and adjusted my position on deck as the catamaran turned with the tide. The competitors were also wise to the change in current, driving into the main channel with a slack tide underneath their hulls.

Goudie took the second race, a raised arm of victory saluting his success. His Salcombe Gin and Tonic would taste sweet on his lips tonight, Ideally laced with a slither of pink grapefruit and couple of ice cubes. This time Wells took the second spot after the race long tussle with Charles, the shortened course flag must have hurt but the water here disappears quicker than a glass of Salcombe Gin...see what i'm doing here.

Race 3

The sun returned, the breeze held at 10-12 and the fleet were away, Mike Iszatt 3875 and Wells starting late on port but with speed and these two would be first to to top mark. Wells from Iszatt with Charles in third with Cass Monk 3983 fourth. Iszatt moved into the lead by the bottom mark and commanded the race for the two rounds, hiking hard and sailing high while Goudie, displaying an understanding of tidal influences only surpassed by Robin Knox Johnston, moved through the fleet to gain second from Wells on the penultimate run. Which begs the question, is there a tide at Grafham?

So, Dave Goudie has won the P&B Vintage Championship and received all sorts of goodies for his efforts. Dave and Mike Izsatt also received bottles of Salcombe Gin while all Solo sailors were able to taste some of Salcombe's finest at the bar FOC. Jonny Wells put up a good defence in third with John Charles an unlucky fourth. Second, third and fourth all tied on 5 points.

Many thanks to the organisers, PRO and team and sponsors, P&B, Rooster Sailing and Salcombe Gin for their support. Well done to the visitors; let's have even more for the 2020 edition.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3Pts
1st4040Dave GoudieGrafham Water SC11‑22
2nd3875Mike IszattKing George SC‑8415
3rd3903Jonny WellsEssex YC‑3235
4th3325John CharlesLeigh on Sea SC23‑45
5th3983Cass MonkEssex YC5‑6510
6th3914Toby SmithEssex YC47‑1011
7th3987Matt TothillLeigh on Sea SC‑135611
8th4023Colin WalkerLeigh on Sea SC6‑8814
9th3904Robin TothillLeigh on Sea SC9‑10716
10th3710Alan RobertsLeigh on Sea SC‑109918
11th3249Richard KnightLeigh on Sea SC712‑1519
12th3981Dave ChamberlainBenfleet YC11‑151122
13th3881Chris BrookesLeigh on Sea SC1211‑1423
14th2395Phil DowsettLeigh on Sea SC‑17141226
15th3802David BraunLeigh on Sea SC‑15131326
16th3886Russell TredgettLeigh on Sea SC14‑171731
17th3574Simon SmithEssex YC1616‑1932
18th3948Tim WrightLeigh on Sea SC‑19191635
19th3587Jonathan MooreLeigh on Sea SC‑18181836
20th3648Nick RangeLeigh on Sea SC‑20202040

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