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Musto Skiffs at Yorkshire Dales for the Northern & Scottish Skiff Open 2022

by Brian Greensmith 14 Apr 06:02 BST 9-10 April 2022

The Musto Skiff fleet converged on the spectacular Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club (YDSC) for a weekend which delivered pretty much everything: wild snowy gusts one day, fickle zephyrs and sunshine the next, with lashings of (proper) gravy between races and a 3-way podium shoot out, which would only be finally shuffled between the gate and the committee boat on the final race.

It was Euan Hurter who ended up as the deserved winner tied on points with a consistent Rob Richardson in second, and a decidedly inconsistent Brian Greensmith a point back in 3rd.


With the Grafham safari tour joyous at having stocked up their jerry cans with Diesel, there we all sat chatting happily on the comfy sofas; Tetley tea in hand, overlooking incredible scenery watching some mardy gusts wanging down the reservoir. The key point from the race briefing seemed to be to make sure to pre-order your hot lunch choices for the break after race 2. This was surely going to be a grand day out.

As we casually emerged from the underfloor heated changing rooms, the icy blast of reality struck hard. It felt a lot less than 5 degrees. Chuffin' cold apparently. There were some complicated explanations as to why it would be better not to get out onto the water for some pre-race practice.

Race 1

Race 1 got under way in a building blustery NW breeze. Noticing the drone overhead, Ian T checked his makeup and flexed his guns determined to hog the footage. With tricky shifts and heavy gusts there were, though, opportunities a plenty and it was the eventual podium trio who all sneaked through when Ian overlaid the gate; clearly concentrating on the camera and pulling some mighty fine downwind shapes. After half an hour of tight racing, the course was shortened from the chuckle bunny 12 laps with Brian taking the win from Rob R and Euan.

Race 2

Things got fruity in race 2 with the breeze well up and birds starting to fly backwards. Upwind tactics were, at times, driven by how long you could stand the snow, sleet and hail firing down the course onto the side of your face. With Brennan apparently vaccinated from the disturbing outbreak of man-bob in the South African section of the fleet, his hair curtain enabled him to hang on to the gain shifts for longer pulling him up to third behind Brian and Ian.

Back up the reservoir things were looking like a Wim Hof cold water immersion seminar. There was definite relief on returning to the shore. None more so than Euan since he and his borrowed boat had both spat their dummies. Scandalously let down by Robbie Wilson not providing him with a tow bar when lending him the famously fast 305, he had then had to urgently borrow Callum E's boat. Despite frantically replacing, straightening, and personalising everything, unfortunately, with the boat not used to more than flat wiring in 4 knots of breeze, self-preservation mechanisms kicked in and it sacrificed several limbs on the reach into the shore, including most of the mast track, to ensure it didn't have to go out again. This left Ian E with another retirement project as well as a handy reason to nod "That'll do lad", stay warm, and let Euan take his boat for the afternoon's races.

Race 3

The breeze had now moderated a little, but there were still some proper lively gusts. With the shift going left, it was Rob Trotter who got the first beat of race 3 spot on. Shocked at seeing his older better-looking brother lead round, Ian woke with a start from his habitual pensioners after lunch nap causing him to dismount and moor up on the windward mark as the fleet sailed round him offering supportive words.

The lays were hard to get right, and if you got a gust at the drop, the kite virtually went in on its own as you screamed past the gate in the praying toilet position. The racing was again tight. Having led every race without converting, Rob R repeatedly appealed Alex Ferguson style to his mate, the race officer, to shorten when he led through each gate, but it wasn't to be, and Brian again slipped through for the win with Euan in third.

Race 4

Even the quick and the brave were feeling it on race 4. A collision on the start line saw Brian take turns, and with the wind going left even more, it became a drag race upwind as you ran the gauntlet with your angles whilst guessing what was going to happen on the last 100m death zone into the mark just off the shore.

Downwind with some monster gusts it was a case of hoist quick then try and stay high enough to get to the gate. Impressively, finding his pace in yet another boat, Euan had a decent lead into the third lap when an alarmingly loud Velcro rip saw his harness unfurl and reject him. It was at this moment that Euan knew he'd had one too many Parkins at lunch.

Some distance back Brian and Rob smelt fear ahead. With Brian screaming up behind, Euan hiked like hell, made the gybe, and stayed just ahead into the finish. Or not. With the race officer shaking his head and pointing at the flags spelling "Numpties", pirate Rob's investment had disgracefully paid off; there was another lap, and he was now looking in fine fettle with a decent lead. Unable to fix the harness, Euan headed in and Brian, realising he could get a windward-leeward course wrong - even without a spreader mark - accepted this was normal and went off after Rob. The breeze had dropped a little by now but was further left so tactical opportunities were scant and with Rob's boat handling solid all day he held on to win with Brian second, Ian T third and Dave Annan hanging in there for a well-earned fourth.

Everyone had a tale to tell over the superb evening meal. We then settled down to enjoy a quiet evening; safe in the knowledge that Danny's Disco bus had been denied entry into the Dales national park by the environmental agency following an anonymous tip off from a concerned couple in the Stokes Bay area.


Sunday dawned mirror calm. The only dark patches on the reservoir being the ice which had formed overnight. As vague zephyrs ghosted around, Euan and Rob licked their lips and smiled knowingly. Brian, facing his room 101 nemesis, hunted frantically for Steve Peter's chimp management book. It was to prove all to play for right up to the last 50m of race 7.

Race 5 & 6

With the light fickle breeze flitting in, out, and everywhere about tricky racing ensued, which saw the three overnight leaders all take "just wanted to cool off" embarrassing swims at various points. Euan won races 5 and 6 with Rob R and Ian T each scoring a 2 and 3. Behind them, the conditions were far more testing as the rest of the fleet seemed to be repeatedly denied all the black magic induced lucky gusts and lifts. Instead, there seemed to be no wind at all and a heavy red mist from which various jungle noises emanated. Tim Olin must have felt like one of David Attenborough's cameramen.

Race 7

Into the final race and any of the three overnight leaders could still win. Ian T crossed the fleet with a dramatic 1 knot port tack "flyer" only to then park up but, satisfyingly, have the chance to ask everyone if they had seen it as they went past. The race required patience, guile, and a good deal of skill so unsurprisingly the same three were again at the front. This time though, Brennan was also in the mix and could dictate the series.

Into the last downwind leg, Euan was set to win and straight set followed closely by Ian T and Brennan. Summoning all his inner Swallows and Amazon GP14 genies, Rob R gybe set and passed them all putting him now in pole position. Everyone then sailed into a hole and the wind swung in circles as Brian came down on the last of the breeze. If he could pass just one boat, he would hold on by his now thoroughly chewed fingernails.

The wind gently filled in, but kites had to come down as it was now a fetch into the leeward gate followed by a frantic hoist and gybe on the last 50m into the committee boat. Euan, sailing superbly all weekend, held his nerve for a super impressive third bullet of the day and the bobby dazzler series win. Rob was tied on points in second with Brian a point behind in third, just holding on from a consistent Ian T in fourth.

Many thanks to Ian Escritt and the YDSC team, and a proper well done to Euan for overcoming all manner of issues and sailing an absolute blinder.

Overall Results:

1st - Euan Hurter
2nd - Robert Richardson
3rd - Brian Greensmith
4th - Ian Trotter
5th - Brennan Robinson
6th - Dave Annan
7th - Rob Trotter
8th - Josh Moran
9th - Stewart Walker
10th - Ian Escritt

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