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Solo Midland Area Series Round 8 sponsored by Allen at Shustoke Sailing Club

by Kev Hall 12 Jul 12:14 BST 9 July 2022
Solo Midland Area Series Round 8 at Shustoke © Tim Makepeace

Shustoke SC is on a Severn Trent reservoir covering just over 100 acres. The Shustoke Reservoir website refers to it as 'a haven of tranquillity for nature lovers, hikers and water enthusiasts, Shustoke Reservoirs are famous for their impressive wildflower displays'.

I hadn't sailed at Shustoke previously so being able to attend a new venue is something I always look forward to. The forecast was almost perfect, 10kts - 15kts and 23 - 25°C, the wind direction, however, was going to be directly across the lake so certainly not ideal.

This probably meant the day would contain swirling wind directions at some of the windward marks, short beats and very close racing.

With two events being on consecutive weekends, and the Nationals being only a week away, I was hoping for a good turnout. A very strong home fleet were out in force and on a day where local knowledge could play a factor this was shaping up to be a greats days sailing.

After the obligatory bacon sandwich we gathered in the sunshine to hear the briefing from the Race Officer for today, John Dransfield.

John explained that due to the notorious starting of the Solo fleet, not sure where he got that idea from, he was going to go with the 'I' flag (indicates that Rule 30.1 (the around-the-ends rule) is in effect) from the outset.

Race 1 - 20 boats took to the water for the start with the wind swinging, as expected, in a 15 - 40° range. The strength of the wind wasn't living up to expectations but it was a beautiful day nonetheless.

Staying in the middle of the start line once the countdown began at least gave you a fighting chance of choosing the right side in case of a shift. With a minute or so to go the choice had to be made with the hope being the wind would remain in phase, at least until the first mark was rounded.

At the windward mark it was local sailor, and Midland series regular, Olly Saunders who was making it look easy and pulling out a bit of lead. Cole Briscoe and Kev Hall managed to also get a gap to the chasing pack and set off in pursuit of Olly.

On lap 3 Olly had something break on-board which meant he'd taken on quite a bit of water dropping him down the order for the remainder of the race (finishing 5th).

Snakes and ladders were the order of the day and with so many local boats sailing it was always going to be interesting when you know how your competitors sail in those conditions.

Race 2 was held back-to-back, so after the much needed top up of fluids we got under way.

This time one of those big shifts did hit whilst in sequence leaving most of the fleet on the committee boat side desperately trying to get to the other end of the line before the gun.

Four or five boats did spot the shift in time with Midlands legend Stuart Hydon nailing the pin end start and rounded first after fetching to the first mark.

David Badger, Cole Briscoe and Kev Hall in hot pursuit couldn't make a dent in Stuart Hydon's lead and he was never challenged for the bullet keeping the lead he pulled out throughout the race.

Kev Hall and Cole Briscoe were battling hard and never more than a few boat lengths apart which made for a very interesting final leg to the finish. The short beats meant the tacking duel didn't last too long and on the final approach Cole Briscoe thought he had enough boat speed to shoot the line from a leeward position.

It was touch and go as to whether he would go past the head to wind point with Kev Hall now being so close to windward and with boat speed fading fast. Unfortunately the lack of forward motion meant he drifted onto the committee boat and therefore needed to do the required penalty turn, letting David Badger sneak through to take third.

We headed in for lunch to rehydrate and take on some food before the final race, at this point hoping the wind wouldn't drop much more than it had already.

The Race Officer requested feedback over lunch and it was communicated there were two distinct wind directions on certain parts of the reservoir. After lunch the course was similar but shortened to use two thirds of the reservoir where the wind was a little more stable.

Race 3 - The 'I' flag clearly had the correct intention as we got off cleanly for R3 too.

David Badger was showing his form and was first to the windward mark with Shustoke Solo fleet captain Rob Marlow in hot pursuit.

A small raft of boats had assembled to round the next mark, opportunistically and hoping he could take full advantage, Stuart Hydon tried to sneak through on the inside. Rob Marlow was having none of it and was vocal in making it clear that penalty turns would be required.

The next short beat Kev Hall managed to pass David Badger and seemed to catch the shifts and gusts at the right time over the following laps pulling out an unassailable lead to take the win.

Further back I heard a distinct increase in volume from some sailors. There are usually at least two sides to every story, and after the race I heard both, this scenario seeming to be a common thread during races everywhere. Boats heading to the next mark, and that's when you hear it.....that awful sound coming from the chasing pack of water being displaced around the front of the hull, for which exasperation and frustration can ensue very quickly. Requests for water from the faster moving boats being refused meant it was inevitable there would be on and off the water discussions.

Overall Results:

PosHelmClubSail NoR1R2R3Pts
1stKev HallNorthampton SC5524‑2213
2ndCole BriscoeShustoke SC44391‑434
3rdStuart HydonShustoke SC57023.51‑44.5
4thDavid BadgerBartley SC5636‑6325
5thNeil WilkinsonChase SC52103.5‑558.5
6thOlly SaundersShustoke SC549756(RET)11
7thNigel WilkinsShustoke SC5432 (4557)‑118614
8thAlan WilliamsSutton SC58547‑14916
9thMichael CosseyShustoke S.C57408‑13816
10thRob MarlowShustoke SC4784‑1791019
11thHarry MarlowShustoke SC4768910‑1419
12thDavid ShepherdShustoke SC01)14‑16721
13thMaria E. FrancoNorthampton SC567510‑191323
14thGareth HylandChase SC556412‑151123
15thAnn BiglinShustoke SC5635‑16121224
16thPaul BottomleySouth Staffs SC5644187(RET)25
17thMike EvansShustoke SC5025‑19111526
18thRichard ConnollyShustoke SC475413‑171629
19thTim MardonShustoke SC480415‑181833
20thDavid GilchristShustoke SC5548‑20201737

Club Prizes:

1st Youth - Harry Marlow - Shustoke SC
1st Silver Fleet - Dave Shepherd - Shustoke SC
1st Bronze Fleet - David Gilchrist - Shustoke SC
1st Lady - Maria E. Franco - Northampton SC

Rob Marlow thanked Allen for providing the prizes and he gave special thanks to all the team for a very well organised event.

Congratulations to his son Harry Marlow for jumping in the Solo for the first time and winning the youth prize. Hope to see you in a Solo again soon Harry!

Huge thanks to Shustoke SC from me and all the visiting sailors for hosting a great event. Shustoke SC is a club with excellent facilities and great food was provided by the galley team. The Solo fleet is clearly thriving at the club which was clear to see from the close racing and, at times, feisty competitive spirit.

Committee Boat:
John Dransfield & Tim Makepiece

Saftey Boat:
David, Bruce, John, Damian

Galley:
Sarah, Irene, Jackie and Mike

Photos:
Tim Makepeace & Damian Harries... thank you!

Good luck to everyone going to the Solo Nationals at SCYC in Abersoch and see you in September for Chelmarsh.

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