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Solo Southwest Travellers Open at Dittisham Sailing Club

by Steven Black 31 Jul 16:09 BST 27 July 2019
Race 3 start at the Dittisham Sailing Club Solo Open © Janie Harford

The Southwest of England is not short of rather pleasant spots to go sailing, so when visitors on the Solo Southwest Traveller circuit describe Dittisham as the loveliest place in the region to go racing, you know it's going to be a good event.

Perhaps they might revise their kindly opinion on a miserable November day with gust-bombs exploding over Galmpton, but for this year's Solo Open, the weather could not have been friendlier. A long-forecast drift didn't appear, instead after a half-hour postponement, a warming Force 2-3 piped up from the West to allow three decent length, extremely competitive races up, down and around the Long Lake area.

Solo racing at Dittisham is undergoing quite a renaissance at the moment, with vastly increased numbers and even people of below pensionable age joining in! With over 80% of the available home fleet out on the water, boosted by five SW travellers from as far away as South Cerney, a splendid fleet of 22 boats revelled in the pleasant but taxing conditions, while trying to avoid sunburn.

Two triangle/sausage races, lunch, a final figure-of-8 culminating in a race back for a cream tea seemed to provide everyone with all the entertainment they needed, and plenty to talk about afterwards.

Race officer James Dodd manufactured a brilliant cross-tide beat, which sufficed for all the races, causing angst to everyone at various times over the nine times it was sailed up. The runs and reaches were interesting as well, from not much wind helping the lightweights, to decent puffs allowing the lardier amongst us to gain some momentum.

In Race 1, local veteran Mike Webster showed his local knowledge and consummate skills to lead from start to finish, while John Steels from Starcross showed that perhaps local knowledge didn't matter quite so much in setting a personal trend by taking second. Pete Hammond joined the Dittisham fleet this year, and has been showing most of the old guard how it's done - after a dodgy first beat he pulled himself up to third.

Race 2 saw Pete Hammond assert his authority in earnest, claiming a strong first, with John Steels again taking second. In an excellent demonstration of just what a well-designed and mannerly boat the Solo is, Steven Black abandoned his unmannerly Laser, borrowed a Solo and sneaked into third (mainly by avoiding the plentiful argey-bargey at gybe marks and sailing around).

Talking of which, although most Solos these days are rather monochrome, a rare splash of colour (and even more colourful language) was provided by Mr Blue Sky and pea-green Bashful as they bashed fully into each other at the gybe mark. But as the OOD mentioned at the post-lunch briefing, it was good to see what happened on the water, stayed on the water, and not upsetting the tranquil aura of Dittisham.

The final race was just as thrilling as the others, with an epic struggle between Messrs Steels & Hammond for first and second, on both the water and overall. As if tied by elastic, they were at all times within yards of each other, with Hammond never quite relinquishing his lead to just claim overall first. Malcolm Mackley from Salcombe took third (and fourth overall). Mike Webster finished third overall.

There were a few wooden boats out, the first of which was Jon Clarke in his bashed-about Bashful. Anne-Marie Coyle was the first lady helm.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoBoat NameHelmClubR1R2R3Pts
15271DoPete HammondDittisham S C‑3112
25786SnibboJohn SteelsStarcross YC‑2224
35820Beer WitchMichael WebsterDittisham SC15‑86
45183Mr Blue SkyMalcolm MackleySalcombe YC‑6639
54587 John EllisChew Valley SC‑13459
65157 Steven BlackDittisham SC‑83710
73301BashfulJon ClarkeDittisham SC7‑8411
85734Mr HumpyAdrian GriffinSalcombe YC5‑9611
95731 Vernon PerkinsSouth Cerney SC4‑111115
105435OchoRichard AllenDittisham SC127‑1419
114617 Jonathan WeeksDittisham SC‑1010919
121587 Andrew MiddletonDittisham SC11‑151021
135424The Boat from BeerMike BennettDittisham SC9‑161322
145333 Johnny MoulsdaleDittisham SC‑15121224
1536 Roy PryorDittisham SC14‑181529
165301 Trevor KirkinDittisham SC1614‑1730
174894 Adam MiltonDittisham SC‑22131831
184440 Ross PridmoreDittisham SC‑17171633
194748DogAnne‑Marie CoyleDittisham SC18‑21RET38
204720SubitoTerry PhillipsDittisham SC19‑201938
215304FlyMartin GregoryDittisham S C2019(DNC)39
224830 Simon BrightDittisham SC2122(DNC)43

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