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Contender Southern Championship at Highcliffe Sailing Club

by Rob Smith 5 Jun 15:21 BST

After trapeze hooks not being called into duty at Poole, the 26-strong fleet was looking forward to at least some good Highcliffe stuff at their Southern Championships over the first weekend in June. After the usual best parking spot competition and rigging chat on the green, the view from the club at briefing time looked as if the breeze might be at the right time. However things had changed by launching and the sub 10 knts bit of the forecast was on the cards.

Some patterns for the day were set almost immediately, as firstly there was a general recall (line/tide/keenness!), causing a bit of looking upwind to gauge how quickly the earlier-starting Ospreys would be upon us. Another pattern was the familiar GBR720 of Graham Scott popping out ahead after there were splits right and left. Newish to the fleet but rapidly showing great form - Graeme Willcox finished just ahead of another regularity - i.e local Gary Langdown being in the top three.

Race 2 also provided a line which despite some re-setting, still made for another pin end melee, and the use of another recall flag, this time just a few. Yours truly decided a trip back was in order, unfortunately Ed didn't. In a similar difficult set of lumpy, variable, crouchy conditions, this race properly showed how Richard Franks is not just distinguishable from orange hull/Lennon sail, but also by his speed in certain conditions. He was kept close company by Iain Horlock now back in the fleet, and Simon Mussell reminding us he's good even outside his comfort zone. The only constant from race 1 was that Graham managed to give another lesson and put another bullet on his scoreline.

Race 3 provided a bit more breeze and a surprise immediate black flag perhaps deserved and perhaps to ensure the tide would not prevent getting home! Some fleet stalwarts carried on improving their scoreline including Chris Boshier and Tom Hooton in fourth and fifth, and Roger White showed the form we know he has in these winds leading the charge for much of the race. However by the finish reach the sail numbers were familiar but this time Richard F taking the win from Graham. Close behind Graham was the undoubtedly fast Ed Presley in one of the many new Hartleys, chased by Rob Smith. Ed unfortunately hadn't noticed the dark flag and only found out ashore that his second 'really good' start was a bit too good more letters, and Rob now third.

As always the Highcliffe team made us super welcome and after curry, there were general chat groups, semi-footie-watching groups and a big bar group all mingling late into the evening. Much stuff put to rights, much bottle opening undertaken.

The club galley team were again popular and busy as stocking up on breakfast took place with the expectation of a very different day, with a SW well in the teens and due to rise. Although the wind and sun both provided a moment of 'oops wearing too much!' just before launch, by the time we reached the start line, having planed/surfed past a good few keelboats labouring upwind (more of that later), most were happy with the thick layer choice.

There were a few characters who completely lived up to the 'game of two halves' anecdote. These included Richard Batten who posted some nice hefty numbers on Saturday but by Mark 1 had just overtaken Rob in the first race of the day while both leading the charge from out at sea, followed not far behind by Simon M judging the tide from inshore. As we got into the swing of the first of many full-on trapezing wavy reaches, neither Richard or Rob expected to be needing to negotiate not only the gybe but one of the returning keelboats broaching nicely while managing to hit our gybe mark!

We went either side in the end. These three enjoyed a good battle throughout, with Simon getting through into second on the run, then overhauling Richard on the beat, with Rob nearly snatching second at the line but with one eye firmly on the chasing closing pack of Graham, Gary and Carl Tagoe. This could well have been Ed's weather, but a third over-good start sort of finished his weekend, but we know the speed will be back as a married man very soon.

The pre-start of Race 5 had a side dish of a struggling Fiona Collins whose woes started with main halyard lock issues, involved needing to tack with boom on deck, included unwanted extra of a spectator boat and culminated in necessary swimming and Eskimo roll. Good effort to recover to post respectable scores in what by now was decent rollers and hefty gusts. The back end of the fleet was getting a bit thinner, but the front looked familiar, as Simon revelled in the conditions and took a second bullet, with good speed again from Carl, Rob, Richard B and Gary. However, keeping Simon company was Graham whose second was enough for the rest of us to slightly jealously see him head off for a well earned rest.

Many starts over the weekend had involved some entertainment, however no-one would have scripted another keelboat leaving their brains back on the pontoon and deciding to sail up behind the fleet with 1.5 mins to go and head for a nice pin end start! After that fun the fifteen left used up all energy reserves in another full on race with the run remaining a surfing exercise and the second reach got tighter and faster.

No surprise to see Tom enjoying the ride to score fourth, Richard B showed his previous Laser skills down the run and catch third, Simon possibly paid for a gybe mark swim but finished his day with a second and Carl pumped and powered home to take an impressive final race win. Everyone knackered, just the mega tide run to negotiate and enough breath to thank the hard working beach helpers.

This left the overall podium being Carl third, Simon second and Graham with another very impressive win mastering hugely different conditions and tide.

Big thanks to the main teams afloat and ashore and everyone involved at Highcliffe SC for yet another really enjoyable open. I think our bodies were telling us we'd had a good one, as everyone headed off for varying length caffeine-assisted journeys home.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1720Graham ScottRYA11242(DNC)10
22420Simon MussellHighcliffe SC73(OCS)11214
32607Carl TagoOxford SC‑214963123
42449Rob SmithCastle Cove SC10‑13334626
5716Richard FrawksRYA5218‑111127
62710Gary LangdownHighcliffe SC3‑171155731
72511Iain HorlockExe SC45‑12117532
8695Graeme WillcoxNetley SC2889‑101037
9678Tom HootonRYA‑14651012437
102702Chris BoshierThorpe Bay YC894‑14.59838
112263Richard BattenMudeford SC‑24181526344
122383David DaviesLoch Ryan1712(OCS)12.58958.5
13705James SpikesleyNetley SC12151012.5‑161362.5
142703Fiona CollinsNetley SC13716‑18141464
15629Ben HawkesCastle Cove SC91114‑20201670
162661Nick CurryWeston SC‑2219716181575
172505Peter DivesEastbourne Sovereign16141714.515(DNC)76.5
182718Peter NobleBroadstairs61013(RET)DNCDNC83
192619Mike Murley‑HughesWeston SC(DNC)DNCDNC7131286
20675David GautierLymington Town1121211919(DNC)91
212711William GovinCarsington2524181717(RET)101
22398R P WhiteKing Georges SC23206(RET)DNCDNC103
23666Bill HootonBurton191619(DNC)DNCDNC108
24696Tony CookDowns SC152220(RET)DNCDNC111
252707Paul KarksThorney Island182322(DNC)DNCDNC117
262708Ed PresleyCul SC20(OCS)OCSUFDRETDNC128

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