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Ocean Safety 2021 - LEADERBOARD

GP14 Midland Bell Series at South Staffordshire Sailing Club

by Chris Martin 8 Sep 06:10 BST 4 September 2021

Seventeen GPs, including a couple of long distance travellers, albeit some back from from holiday, ventured out to South Staffs for the first post summer Midland Bell event. The forecast of a lightish breeze proved accurate and led to good racing in all three races, interspersed with the usual Gailey snakes and ladders!

Race one got away cleanly and the right hand side of the beat paid. John and Jack Telford led around the windward mark, followed by locals Terry Edwards and Darren Heath and Chris Martin and Samuel Bailey. John and Jack's chosen route, right of the island, to the second mark led to some debate in the two boats behind as to what the course was, Chris and Samuel gybing off for a more conventional course leaving Terry and Darren on the prayer mat with the unknowing John and Jack still in the lead. To add to the fun the wind also filled in from behind after about 10 boats had rounded the first mark really threatening to shuffle the pack with a line of boats 6 wide approaching the first leeward mark. Somehow - and I don’t know how - the same three boats were in the top three positions at the second mark, though Terry and Darren were now leading. The three leaders broke away after the third mark and a close battle ensued up the second beat, John and Jack following Terry and Darren to the left of the course, Chris and Samuel deciding that right was good enough up the first beat and it would do for the second - it turned out that they were correct, sailing in to the mark on a huge starboard lift leaving the other two struggling to get inshore to the mark on port. That’s more or less how things stayed except Terry and Darren fell victim to another hole allowing several boats past most notably Sam Watson, crewed by Magic who came in third which was quite a significant development for later.

Race two took place following a lunch break and the wind was by now light and fitful. An individual recall led to some boats frantically trying to get back behind the line, but while the right hand side had proved to be fruitful in the first race it was the left that paid handsomely in this one leading two of the previous top three firmly placed in mid fleet. Getting back proved difficult, especially with the quality of the fleet. Dave Young and Ollie Goodhead took first place, with Chris Winters and Freya Mason second following a gruelling tacking battle with Sam and Magic, whose knees have probably not yet recovered!

Race three saw the wind start to play games again, leading to a short postponement. The wind was heading further and further left leading to a port biased line and first race winners Chris and Sam port tacked the fleet off the line. Unfortunately for them a small hole just off the windward mark allowed Sam and Magic to prevent their final tack and it was Sam and Magic who took the lead round the first mark. Chris and Samuel were second followed by Ollie and Andy Hately, Ollie helming his first GP Event. Obviously finding the transition from a Feva to GP to be not too bad Ollie and Andy took the lead and it was a close fight between the three boats for most of the race, Same and Magic getting just enough momentum to roll Ollie and Andy on the final run, Chris and Samuel’s low approach to avoid the luffing match leaving them too far away to engage either boat up the last beat. Dave Young and Ollie Goodhead came in fourth with a boat full of water courtesy of a bung misunderstanding.

That left a tie for first place, with Sam Watson and Magic taking the trophy courtesy of the their last result from Chris Martin and Samuel Bailey in second. Dave Young and Ollie Goodhead came in third with Ollie Hately crewed by Dad Andy in fourth place. Three different winners and three different podiums in each race shows the depth in this fleet, the Midland Bell in 2021 proving to be quite a challenge. The next round is at Chelmarsh SC on the 18th September.

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