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Comet open meeting at Nottingham Sailing Club

by Phil Sheppard 31 May 23:35 BST 10 April 2022
Comet open meeting at Nottingham © Peter Staples

A good turnout of 16 boats took part in the Comet Open held at Nottingham SC. Six of the entries were visitors from as far afield as Bristol, Reading and Cheshire; joined by ten home club entries of which two weren't regular Comet sailors.

On arrival at the club at 9 am there was very little wind, but it was mild and dry, however by the time of the briefing at 10:30 there was a light 4-6 knots wind from the SSW-SW. The river-based venue provided a simple windward leeward 'sausage' ~1.6km length course; and with the wind on the day being mostly SSW-SW resulted in a nearly entirely port beat to the windward mark.

The format was for three races of approx 60 minutes long, with one race scheduled in the morning, and two after lunch.

The first race got under way at 11:10am, with 15 boats taking part. A clean start saw a competitive first beat with 8 boats in close proximity rounding the first mark, led by 867 Chris Robinson. Unfortunately lead NSC Comet sailor Sue Jones (835) managed to tangle her boat in the riverbank growth on the way to the first mark, dropping her from sixth to last place.

By the end of the first lap 597 Ben Palmer led, followed by 377 Eddie Pope and 867 Chris. Over the next couple of laps boats were changing positions throughout the fleet with a group of 3 boats breaking free ahead. As the fleet became spread-out the race officer shortened the race to end on three laps. The top three after race one were 377 Eddie, 126 Alan Bennett and 597 Ben. First NSC boat was 397 Tom Fletcher in fifth.

Everyone then enjoyed a fantastic homemade lunch cooked by Zeny Roberts, wife of Phil (784), and homemade carrot cake made by Rose Wilkinson (804).

Over lunch the wind dropped a bit and swung to SSW more frequently. The second race got under way at 13:25 with 16 boats now taking part. 867 Chris and 126 Alan led the way on the first beat. By the end of lap 1 126 Alan led followed by 867 Chris and 597 Ben. On lap 2 377 Eddie moved up to second and 867 Chris dropped back to fifth. Again, the race officer shortened the race to end on three laps. 126 Alan took the honours, followed by 377 Eddie and 597 Ben. First NSC boat was 835 Sue in fifth.

After a cream tea break, the race team shortened the course quite a bit moving both the windward and leeward marks. With both 377 Eddie and 126 Alan tied on 3 points; each with a first and second place, it was all down to the final race to decide the event winner.

The final race got under way at 15:00. 377 Eddie got away well and led throughout, with 126 Alan back in the pack and only sixth after lap 1. Sue 835 had a poor start and was last across the line, but then moved through the pack to eventually finish second. Ben 597 was a consistent third again, with Alan 126 finishing fourth.

There followed a prize-giving in the clubhouse with more tea and cakes. The NSC Vice Commodore, Shad Jawad presented prizes to the first five overall, and the first junior helm Rose.

Marie (C83) adds, "the reason for my low position in the second race was a shackle failure leading to a collapse in my mainsail! I had to go back to the club to re-rig and start again but managed to avoid finishing last - just."

Phil (C784) also adds, "I was sailing pretty much the first time this season, so just pleased to take part and finish. The first race was unusual for our stretch of river in that thanks to the wind direction, it could be sailed both upstream and downstream without tacking. However, the downstream mark proved tricky to get round with tricky wind, in the first race a loss of momentum as I turned led me to drift around 30m downstream before getting moving again."

Hazel (C685) writes, "At our club we have a really friendly Comet fleet. Having missed last year's open, the day was especially exciting. It was great to see so many Comet boats setting off up the river and though I was nearer the back than front, this gave me lots of opportunities to see and learn what other boats were doing in this wind. The food was fabulous and the atmosphere just as good off the water too and a great day had by all."

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