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Larks at te Salcombe Gin 124th Salcombe Yacht Club Annual Regatta

by Eluned Stewart 18 Aug 07:55 BST 11-16 August 2019

A fabulous fleet of eleven Larks (including five past Lark National Champions) arrived in Salcombe for the Salcombe Gin Regatta to be greeted by sunshine and 40-50 knots of breeze.

Day 1

The Saturday is usually used to rig boats and sail them across the estuary ready for the following days racing, but that had to be postponed due to the extreme conditions. Sunday morning and the fleet were up early to rig boats and launch. The sun was shining and the breeze had abated a bit. Those of us lulled into thinking we were going to be having a leisurely pootle on the estuary were a bit shocked to see that it was still quite fruity and there were plenty of capsizes even before the start.

It looked like Steve Cumley/Eluned Stewart would be first to the windward mark but in true Salcombe style, the last quarter of the beat turned inside out and Stuart Hydon/Ann Biglin lead round a very congested windward mark. The fleet then gybed and headed in land for what seemed like forever for the Salcombe virgins in the fleet. The breeze got up and as the fleet headed into the infamous bag, there was a lot of place changing throughout the fleet but it looked like Hydon/Biglin were going to win convincingly. Meanwhile, things were really closing up behind with Harry Pynn/Gemma Pynn showing their electric pace and new team James Stewart/Nick Hydon getting in the groove. As things closed up even more Tim Fells/Ben Meek, Chris/Kate Holliman and John/Vicky Brickwood all took it in turns to sneak into 4th place.

However, on the final beat, after nearly 1.5hrs, Hydon/Biglin lost pace and Stewart/Hydon managed to reel them in and take the victory.

Day 2

Race two was provided with a tricky light north westerly breeze blowing across the channel giving a reaching start. The first mark was set near the mouth of the river and the first attempt at starting was recalled as the fleet drifted over the line with the tide. For the second attempt the race officer changed the course heading up the channel towards Kingsbridge. Stuart Hydon/Ann Biglin managed to escape the flat patch on the line followed closely by James Stewart/Nick Hydon and Steve Cumley/Eluned Stewart with the rest of the fleet spread out a long way behind.

The return through the 'bag' provide some big gains losses with John Brickwood/Vicky Briskwod pulling through to second. Hydon/Biglin managed to hold on to the lead with the Brickwoods close behind. Cumley/Stewart managed to clinch third in a very tight finish between third and seventh placed boats drifting across the line together.

Day 3

A slightly damp day welcomed the Larkies at Mill Bay with light F1-3 winds. The race started prompt with the tide under the boats as they travelled to the first mark out beyond the Bar. Harry and Gemma looked to take the early lead, but when they needed to tack for the Bar Stuart and Ann managed to clear them and rounded the first mark in the lead. Getting back into Salcombe and then through the Bag was going to prove trying for some.

Harry and Gemma soon closed the gap and took the lead. John and Vicky Brickwood followed by aiming quite deep holding a line directly if front of the bar. The rest of the fleet hunted the leaders down closing on the early gains. With the wind dropping Stuart and Ann dropped their kite raised the board and rudder and surfed in past a few kayakers in knee deep water.

A slight breeze filled in and they were gone, really gone never to be seen again on the same leg. Minutes later the rest of the fleet had their turn with John and Vicky leading Harry and Gemma. Through the Bag and up to Kingsbridge Harry and Gemma stole second position from JB and Vicky. Conservative play took place for the rest of the race without too much further drama.

Day 4

Sailing cancelled due to strong winds.

Day 5

After a day off for the gale to blow through the hotly contested Lark fleet recommenced their series. A downriver start on a strong ebb tide resulted in series leaders Stuart Hydon and Ann Biglin returning to the line after an OCS, but in doing so fouled Tim Fells and Ben Meek resulting in a 720.

The current caused many boats to overstand the windward mark at Mill Bay. The fleet then compressed as they ran against the tide through the light winds on the start line. Early leaders James Stewart and Nick Hydon were overtaken by Harry Pynn and Gemma Cook. Tim Fells and Ben Meek came through to second by the leeward mark in Salcombe creek.

By the time they had got through the bag on second lap a two horse race had developed between Pynn and Cook and Steve Cumley and Eluned Stewart. Cumley and Stewart took the lead on the patchy and shifty beat through the start line to mark number 1, but Pynn and Cook caught back up, taking advantage of a strong gust to close the gap and then edging past Cumley and Stewart after several gybes. Hydon and Biglin had now pulled through to third. These positions remained unchanged during a nervous beat to the finish.

Day 6

The race on Friday was cancelled because of strong winds so all 4 sailed races counted in the series for which Hydon and Biglin were worthy winners. Pynn and Cook were second and Cumley and Stewart were third.

The wet weather did not dampen the spirits of the fleet though who headed to the pub for brunch with many already talking about returning in 2020. Thanks to SYC for a fabulous event and special thanks to members of the lark class who loaned boats for the event.

Overall Results:

PosBoat NameSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R5Pts
1stWell Dodgy2495Stuart HydonAnn BiglinShustoke31138
2ndRollergirl2520Harry PynnGemma CookWaldringfield262111
3rdNelly2496Steve CumleyEluned StewartNetley434213
4thSlightly dodgy2528John BrickwoodVictoria BrickwoodNetley623415
5thFlorence2492James StewartNick HydonNetley175518
6thDylan2539Tim FellsBen MeekSalcombe YC746724
7thHelly Hansen2475Chris HollimanKate HollimanLymington5910630
8thPolar Bear2531Daniel WatsonNikki Bass 8571030
9thWeeble2502Steve ChatenKatie PhippsNetley9108835
10thZebidee2472Robert LangleyEdwin LangleySalcombe YCDNC89938
11thMlevi2504John CrooksFlora WinterWaldringfield 1011111143

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