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Winter Solo Northern Series at Shotwick Lake Sailing Club

by Gaz Henshall 21 Mar 08:14 GMT 14 March 2020

Saturday 14th March saw the opening Open of the 2020 Solo Northern Series sponsored this year by Winder Boats. Shotwick Lake Sailing Club, just inside the Welsh border, hosted 18 boats, 10 visitors representing seven different clubs from across the region and a home fleet of eight, ages ranging from retired to student and a handful competing in their first, of hopefully many Open meetings in the Solo.

A good breeze of 10-15kts, initially Southerly(ish) greeted the competitors and after the briefing, held outside (in the SUNSHINE!) by race officer Gareth Henshall all headed out onto the water.

Race 1 saw the wind coming across the lake (though we all had our fingers crossed this would swing during lunch time) which resulted in short beats but lots of runs and reaches. This made for a very tactical first race with emphasis on boat handling and getting clean breeze. The short first beat making for a very busy first windward mark and boat positioning being key. After 50 minutes Steve Dennison (RYA) crossed the line first, followed closely by Martin Honnor (Ogston) in second and Phillip Barnes (Budworth) rounding off the top three.

The sailors then came in for a quick lunch break with sandwiches and bacon butties provided by the wonderful galley ladies before heading back out of the water for two back-to-back races in the afternoon.

Over lunch the wind decided to shift 90 degrees which meant for a change of course. This now meant that the wind was blowing down the length of the Lake straight off the Dee estuary and the Welsh hills in the distance. This being Shotwick's most favourable direction meaning we can beat the full length of the Lake opening up many options for the race team, allowing for far more open racing.

Race 2 got under way at about 1 o'clock with an all clear start and a long first beat up to the windward mark, just like the first race this was closely contested the whole way round the course with plenty of overtakes on the runs and on the beats. Some sailors having a few issues with their Port and Starboard roundings at the second windward mark led to a bit of confusion amongst the fleet. However the race team doing a top job managed to sort out who had sailed the right course and those who had sailed the wrong course taking voluntary retirement. This confusion allowed two boats to sail away during this race with Martin Honnor taking the victory closely followed by home ace Gordon Bennell (Shotwick Lake) and then a short distance behind was Steve Denison taking third place.

The third and final race used the same course as Race 2 with all still to play for. A win for either Steve or Martin would clinch victory and mark the first bullet in this year's Northern Travellers' Series.

A big shift just before the start of the race meant that one side of the line was far more favoured than the other but it shifted back making the beat quite square for the rest of the race. We had a new leader around the first mark in John Dixon (West Kirby) but he was closely followed by Martin and Steve who were battling it out for the overall victory. This battle would continue for the majority of the race with Steve just being ahead of Martin up until the very last lap where Martin got the crucial overtake and he was able to hold on for the victory, Steve close behind and Tim Sadler (Yorkshire Dales) getting his first top three of the day.

After three races it came down to a difference of one point overall with Martin Honnor from Ogston Sailing Club taking the overall victory with two wins, Steve Denison (RYA) in second place with a first and a second and Gordon Bennell (Shotwick Lake) who was the first local sailor in third place with a second and a fourth.

On behalf of the competitors we would like to thank the Race Team, Safety Team and the Galley Volunteers for running a fantastic first Open meeting of the season at Shotwick Lake.

On behalf of the club we would like to thank the competitors who took the time to travel from all over the region to come and take part. Hopefully you all had a good time, and there was racing all the way down the fleet. At Shotwick Lake we are trying to encourage all of our fleet to travel as much as possible this year (once we are all allowed out of our houses again) so we hope to see you all again later in the year.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3Pts
1st5880Martin HONNEROgston‑2112
2nd5887Steve DENISONRYA1‑323
3rd5605Gordon BENNELLShotwick Lake SC‑5246
4th5766Tim SADLERYorkshire Dales4‑1037
5th5685Philip BARNESBudworth3‑958
6th5312Stuart NORRISShropshire SC64‑1010
7th5514John DIXONWest Kirby7(RET)613
8th‑‑4Kieran LEWISShotwick Lake SC‑96713
9th5286Paul PROCTORChester SC‑105914
10th4527Paul HOADAberdyfy‑127815
11th5518Dave THOMASShotwick Lake SC‑1481220
12th5064John PURDIEShotwick Lake SC8(RET)1422
13th4200Mark NIELDChester SC11(RET)1122
14th5239Doug PINCHShotwick Lake SC‑13111324
15th4880Alan CRITCHLEYShotwick Lake SC‑17121628
16th5812Les PERRYShotwick Lake SC16(RET)1531
17th5654Steve McGIVENBudworth15(RET)1732
18th3116Stewart THOMASShotwick Lake SC18(DNC)DNS37

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