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Solway Yacht Club Bumfreezer Series

by Ian Purkis 20 Oct 07:37 BST 17-18 October 2020
Coming up to the start, moments before the flag drops, overall winner Stewart Mitchell (far left) gets it almost right at the "pin end" of the line while Gordon Daly and Jane Gascoigne (nearest) during the Solway Yacht Club Bumfreezer Series © Solway YC

Fickle winds as the 2020 sailing season ends, almost before it started

Continuing to carefully follow the Government's Covid regulations, the Solway Yacht Club held its final fling of 2020, their two-day "Bumfreezer" weekend series. With a high-pressure system promising settled weather, it also meant chilly winds from the North East but as the crews were briefed by Race Officer Gordon Daly, it promised a light but steady wind from the North, preferable for sailing at Kippford to anything from the East.

Race 1 started with a comparatively big fleet for a late season event, and immediately Stewart Mitchell in his Olympic Finn and Scott Train and Anne Stewart in their Flying Fifteen keelboat were out in front. Cadets James and Katie Bishop got another good start initially well ahead of John and Val Broadbent both in GP14s. As the race progressed Simon Wilson in his Laser Radial kept in touch with the faster rated boats, while not far behind Ian & Margaret Purkis in the Firefly were also going well. Of the younger sailors, the RS Feva crew of Tamsin Wallace and Katie Harris were making a race of it for cadet honours with the Bishop crew.

Race 2 and with a change of course to try to make the best of the light wind, the Purkis Firefly made a great start, leading off the line, but soon the Mitchell Finn was easing past as they approached the first turning buoy. With the other faster rated boats expecting to follow Mitchell, the Purkis crew were making it tough but gradually the Train/Stewart Flying Fifteen and the big F18 catamaran of Scott and Nicola McColm both got past. At the end of lap 1 the Firefly was still in close contention but as lap 2 progressed the leaders gradually drew further ahead.

By now Chris Nurney in his Dart 18 catamaran and the Wilson Laser Radial was closing on the Firefly, all getting into the best position to avoid the ebb tide and heading for a close finish. The wind and tide had other ideas; the final turning mark, "G buoy" has a reputation for being extremely difficult in light winds against an ebb tide. The leading group made it, but the wind died, leaving the rest of the fleet drifting, Alex Glendinning in his Vortex within touching distance of the buoy. Despite great efforts from him and the others, the ebb tide was winning and none could reach the notorious G buoy. Finally, the Race Officer had no option other than to end proceedings once the time limit for finishing was reached, leaving more than half the fleet disappointed and a long paddle or tow home.

Sunday dawned with even less wind and several crews decided it wasn't for them. But before the new Race Officer, Duncan Gillespie briefed crews, the previous day's RO announced that given it was the final weekend of the season and to avoid disappointment to the many that had turned out and made the effort, the result of Race 2 had been calculated based on Lap 1 times so almost every crew was given a placing. Technically not within the Racing Rules of Sailing, it was still greatly appreciated by all those timed out and, while the finishers could have protested the result, they sportingly let it stand.

With still no sign of any wind, the new RO briefed that if it was at all possible, racing would take place and so a rather depleted fleet was towed to the starting area. Most parked on the beach ashore while others picked up vacant moorings and waited... and waited. Eventually after a one-hour delay, a few whispers of wind could be felt, enough for one crew to demonstrate that it was just sailable. A short triangular course was set, and the race got under way. This time Stephen and Linda Gaughan in the Osprey made the most of the feint breeze closely followed by the Mitchell Finn and the Train/Stewart crew, joined by Gordon Daly and Jane Gascoigne in another Flying Fifteen, the latter slightly ahead. Tucked in behind, the Purkis Firefly was again giving chase and on the downwind leg gradually caught and overtook both the faster rated Flying Fifteens, but once round the next mark, the larger boats retook their places. The Purkis Firefly wasn't letting go and was only a few seconds back at the end of lap 1.

With Mitchell now well ahead, the McColm F18 and the Gaughan Osprey were having their own private battle. Back on the downwind leg, the Purkis Firefly repeated their lap 1 feat, again getting past both the more powerful Flying Fifteens but, moving upwind to the finish, the pair again got back past. Coming up to the finish the two Flying Fifteens were in close company with the Train/Stewart boat just ahead when it mattered, the Firefly finishing just a few seconds later. Not very far behind, it was the Bishop's GP14 making the most of a borrowed high-performance laminate sail, while the Wallace/Harris RS Feva did well to master the fickle conditions, both cadet crews recording good finishes.

So ended the 2020 Solway Yacht Club season; despite Covid, the Club managed several weekends of good racing but without doubt the 2020 season will be remembered for the highly successful Catherinefield Windows sponsored Kippford RNLI Regatta and the substantial funds raised for our wonderful local RNLI team. Special thanks too to Safety Boat Officer, Pete Hammond and the Club's own safety boat crews, the Race Officers and the Club Commodore Robert Dinwiddie, without who our sport locally could never happen.

Overall Results: (corrected, 3 races, 1 discard)

1st Stewart Mitchell (Finn)
2nd Scott Train & Anne Stewart (Flying Fifteen)
3rd Ian & Margaret Purkis (Firefly)
4th Simon Wilson (Laser Radial)
5th James and Katie Bishop (GP14)
6th Stephen & Linda Gaughan (Osprey)
7th Alex Glendinning (Vortex)
8th Scott & Nicola McColm (F18 catamaran)
9th Tamsin Wallace & Katie Harris (RS Feva)
10th Gordon Daly & Jane Gascoigne (Flying Fifteen)
11th John & Val Broadbent (GP14)
12th Chris Nurney (Dart 18 catamaran)
13th Fiona Grierson (Laser Radial)
14th Hamish MacDonald (Laser Radial)

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