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Flying Fifteen Autumn Series at Parkstone Yacht Club - Race 3

by Patrick Keats 22 Nov 07:58 GMT 16 November 2019

Sunny skies, a harbour full of water and a capricious North Westerly enticed 17 Flying Fifteens to race 3 of the Parkstone Autumn series. 17 boats! Other dinghy classes would give their eye teeth just to get 17 boats of the same class to a national champs... at Parkstone we get 17 Flying Fifteens rocking up for a chilly Saturday afternoon points! Anyway, on to the race report...

The 17(!) boat turnout somewhat caught out race office Fi Linford (AKA Hawkeye) as she had set a line with length better suited for ten or twelve boats. As the club RIBs had all been snaffled by the "Windsurfer End of Series Open Champs". Hawkeye lacked a suitable craft to lengthen the line or swing the pin away from the wind following a significant shift to the west.

Thus it was the fleet processed three abreast in the final minute to the heavily biased and just about crossable pin from the committee boat (hut) end - it was inevitable that some folk would simply hope the windward/leeward rules could be edited out for start line purposes and/or get squeezed over the line and, as sure as eggs are eggs, a second gun was fired at the start; Hawkeye had not only spotted all over eager transgressors but identified them too...

Steve Randle & Chris Jermyn decided to head back to pre course side, accompanied by Bob Alexander & Huw Willetts and I think Graham & Ben Scroggie.

The tricky first beat was nailed by the husband and wife teams of Christina & Steve Moncur who led Pete & Jo Allam round David Pipe mark and then a flurry of boats including David Tabb with guest crew David Coward, Geof Gibbons & Nick Cornish, Mervyn Wright & Ron Elliot, Patrick Keats & Jake Grant and Simon Spolton & Grant Murphy led the rest of the 17(!) strong fleet.

The course was well set by Hawkeye and Mike Kilbee, and two windward/leeward loops were embedded within one larger such loop - ideal in the F2 breeze. The beats saw many shift in positions. Though the battle for the first two places was only ever going to be between Christina & Steve and Pete & Jo there was all to play for in the following places.

The battle royal for third at this point was between Spolton & Murphy, Crispin Reed-Wilson & Steve Brown, Tabb & Coward and Gibbons & Cornish. Wright & Elliot had fallen back a little but remained in the mix. Alexander & Willetts who were unusually DFL (Dead Last) at the first mark (on account of going back at the start) were also climbing relentlessly through the fleet.

Fast forward to the last mark - the Christina & Steve versus Pete & Jo head-to-head was still to be settled, however Pete & Jo just managed to squeeze through to round ahead and maintained position until the finish. Keats & Grant rounded in fourth place close to Gibbons & Cornish's transom but tacked early for the finish line. This paid off (just), the distance between these finishers was within five seconds.

Wright & Elliot found themselves on the outside of this starboard mark and therefore raised the "Please Do Pass" sign, of which five boats took advantage. A bitter cruelty at this point of the race but an indicator as to how close the racing was in this 17(!) boat fleet.

As we returned to shore dark whispers were heard, there had been as many as 8 boats over at the start and not everyone had gone back. Speculation reached fever pitch as to who the transgressors were. When PRO Hawkeye returned ashore all was revealed and hopes and dreams were broken for many. I shall not name them here but none of the boats who crossed the finish line in the top five positions were impeached.

A fabulous day of very close racing and the 17(!) Parkstone Flying Fifteens that raced that day are all exceptionally grateful to Fi Linford and Mike Kilbee for putting on such an enjoyable afternoon's sport.

Results:

1st 3793 - Pete & Jo Allam
2nd 3850 - Christina & Steve Moncur
3rd 3821 - Patrick Keats & Jake Grant
4th 3643 - Geof Gibbons & Nick Cornish
5th 4054 - Simon Spolton & Grant Murphy

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