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Bournemouth Digital Poole Week 2021 - Day 3

by David Harding 25 Aug 12:33 BST 23-27 August 2021

Anyone who doesn't sail would have been confused on Tuesday afternoon, seeing Poole Week competitors coming ashore shaking their heads and muttering 'it was tough out there.'

To say that Day 3 was challenging would be an under-statement. To a land-lubber, or even a non-racing sailor, it looked like a lovely day - and it was. The sun shone - unless a large cloud happened to be lingering - and the wind, which was broadly from the east, averaged around 10 knots (or what a cruising sailor might call 'a nice Force 3').

The trouble is that, in this case, averaging 10 knots meant fluctuating between next to nothing and just shy of 20 knots. Similarly, 'broadly from the east' (or sometimes north-east) meant exactly that: it swung left and right in a way that few were able to predict. Some of the gusts were vicious and unpredictable, pouncing from nowhere and causing the odd capsize.

Mostly, however, the changes in strength and direction happened over longer periods than they had on Sunday, when the north-westerly was flicking all over the place. On Tuesday it meant that, unless you plucked up the courage to bang a few corners, it could take longer to recover from being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Time was also an issue for the PROs, who needed to pause proceedings more than once to let the wind settle after a major shift before they could start the sequences. From the Parkstone Platform, the Darts and XODs managed to start their first races of the day but the wind then swung to the right and the Wayfarers and later starters had to wait.

The plus side of the shifty conditions was that being down never meant being out. In the Wayfarers, Jackie Dobson and Dave Mitchell, who had made life hard for themselves by sailing the wrong course in the second race on Sunday, gave themselves another challenge at the start of Tuesday's first race by being over-eager at the start.

They re-started near the tail of the fleet, but kept to the right up the beat and rounded the windward mark in third. There they split again from the rest of the fleet by doing a gybe set and heading left, picking up another place on the run and going on to win not only the first race but also the second race of the day.

Being consistent in a week-long event like this, especially in such shifty conditions, is far from easy but most of the names at or near the top of the results lists at the mid-way point are there because they keep delivering the goods. After a 3rd and a 6th on Monday, Crispin Read Wilson and Steve Brown in the Flying Fifteens scored two bullets on Tuesday to take the overall lead by one point from Pete and Jo Allam.

In the ILCA 7s, Hywel Roberts is counting a trio of firsts and nothing lower than a 5th to sit level on points with Michael Atkinson, who has always been quick in a breeze but this week has given the rest of the fleet plenty to worry about in lighter conditions too.

While it's tight at the top in the full rigs, a convincing leader has emerged in the radials (ILCA 6s) in the form of Freddie Howarth, who sits three points clear of Roberta Hartley.

Tuesday's results showed not only the value of consistency but also the established front-runners in a number of fleets being put under pressure by others moving up and closing the gap. If this trend continues, we're going to see some more close and very interesting racing in Bournemouth Digital Poole Week over the next three days.

Provisional results on www.pooleweek.org and more photos on www.SailingScenes.com

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