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Solo Open at Royal Harwich Yacht Club

by Chris Mayhew 6 Oct 09:42 BST 3 October 2020
Royal Harwich Solo Open © RHYC

Finally, the Solos organised a "distanced gathering" at Royal Harwich together with the Laser fleet. Anyone leaving their bed on Saturday morning through the bleak grey morning rain to make the journey to come racing must have questioned their sanity! Some thought better of it and took the option of a duvet day, but after this damp start it only got better.

Race officer Dr Chris Brown was promptly afloat with his race team with two other Laser fleets to start before the Solos. The sequence was shortened to 3 minutes to minimise any waiting around. The blossoming local Laser fleet had a limited 45 entrants with the Solos limited to 15 after the Laser were fully subscribed after 24 hours. With a gentle spitting of rain at the start the first of four planned races started with a windward-leeward course to get everyone going and allowing the threat of planned swinging wind to settle.

At the start it was Vince Horey from King George that was chomping at the bit - so keen to get away on what was a competitive start that an individual recall was displayed and Vince returned. Up the beat it was shifting regularly keeping everyone alert and a high level of concentration was required to pick up the shifts with wet tell tails! Most people continued on starboard initially inshore against the flood before tacking to cross the tide to the windward pillar buoy on the Pin Mill shore. The top mark rounding was closely fought but Tom Gillard from Sheffield Viking rounded first closely followed by Mark Maskell from Blackwater Sailing Club. At this point the race track was getting congested with the Solo's already catching the Lasers and it was key to try and maintain clear air on the run. Lap 2 again was tight, and the Lasers were helpful in identifying a few shifts. At the finish Gillard maintained his lead over Maskell and Chris Mayhew from RHYC completed the podium.

The wind had dropped slightly to 6-7 knots and this caused the OOD to opt for a very swift single lap windward leeward course. The start was going to be even more important, and again the line up was tight. The left seemed the best option, but you needed to be careful not to get trapped and go too far. It was all close, but Derek Mayhew from RHYC showed some great upwind speed and picked through to look to round the first mark first, only to get overlapped with some Lasers and not be able to make a rounding! Tom Gillard was there to pounce and not make that mistake- rounding first. Gillard was pursued closely by Maskell then Chris Mayhew on the run. On the run Gillard went right keeping up tide with Maskell and Mayhew more central, only to have to go left for clear air around the Lasers which looked good until the end when Gillard came in to round the bottom mark and take the bullet from a closely fought second for Maskell and Mayhew third.

The wind had recovered for race 3 and was back up to 10 knots for the two lap triangle course. Gillard started at speed and was out of the blocks fast. It was all tight up the beat and anyone in the fleet could have rounded first, but it was Gillard tailed by Peter Kyne from Brightlingsea and Horey with Maskell still in with a chance. On the reach the bunch remained tight, but Gillard began to pull away, as the Lasers were staying ahead for longer this race. The places remained close and at the final short beat to the finish the bunch finished remarkably close with Kyne holding on for 2nd and Horey gaining a 3rd.

With the Open won Gillard was defending the record. Everyone needed to wait for a few minutes for a postponement to allow for some commercial shipping to pass by as the wind picked up a little. The final race was going to be held over two laps of a trapezoid course where the tide was just beginning to ebb. The beat this time had some significant shifts from halfway up the beat and being the right side of all of them was more than a challenge! The fleet was close, but Gillard had not eased up and was leading around again. The closer reach to the first downwind mark led to boats being able to get onto the plane and some nice conditions to finish the event. Gillard maintained his 100% record with the bullet and Maskell claimed another consistent second followed by the improving Kyne. At the end it remained close with only a few points separating second to fifth.

It was great to see a number of Solos in what has been a very challenging year, and thanks go to Royal Harwich Yacht Club for putting on the event and enabling the Solos to get together again in what has been a very quiet year for the Solos and the End of Seasons is only a month away!

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4Pts
1st5675Tom GillardRHYC‑11113
2nd5779Mark Maskell Blackwater Sailing Club22‑426
3rd5717Peter KyneBrightlingsea SC4‑6239
4th4921Chris MayhewRHYC33‑6511
5th5850Vince HoreyKing George Sailing Club‑643411
6th5137Derek MayhewRHYC55‑9818
7th5796Andy BinesBrightlingsea SC‑885720
8th5819Phil SturmerRoyal Burnham Yacht Club7‑107620
9th5904Patrick OversPaxton Lakes Sailing Club97‑101026
10th5745Robin PageBrightlingsea SC‑11981128
11th5888Geoff GrittonBrightlingsea SC10‑1111930
12th5829Simon DavisUpper Thames Sailing Club(DNC)DNCDNCDNC39

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