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Superspars/Harken Solo National Championship at South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club - Day 2

by Will Loy 18 Jul 12:44 BST 16-19 July 2022
Sparkling conditions on day 2 of the Solo Nationals at Abersoch © Will Loy

I was welcomed in to day 2 by another 76 style summer morning, the view from my accommodation stunning apart from the fact the reflection in the local tributary was almost perfect in clarity and definition.

To cut a long story short the fleet would be held on shore for a few hours, PRO Malcolm Blackburn looked pensive, the pressure on a race officer is sometimes a heavy burden but he has broad shoulders and a calmness which is reassuring. There are worse places to sit around waiting to go sailing and the ice cream parlour was being hit hard, the Coconut Caribbean my particular favourite. The beach was full of beauties, plenty for the hot sweaty sailors to ogle over, the Winder Mk 1/1a/Mk 2 easy on the eye and smooth to the touch.

Sailors all had their own theory on sea breeze, land mass influence and some more confident competitors, who had gleamed information from the local soothsayers, confidently professed that the wind would fill in from the south around 3pm and this was indeed the case. The fleet launched into a nice southerly and reached out to the race arena, the stench from their body odour quickly evaporating into the ozone.

Race 3 - 9.5 knots, 180 degrees

Chris Gillard would be pathfinder and despite the fleet's best attempts, not one hit our gate boat.

I am being spoilt with my media rides at Abersoch, thanks to the generosity of some of the local club members and this one was a cracker. I did consider breaking open a beer and kicking back with a rod out but the race was on and the game was afoot.

At the top mark it was Oliver Davenport from Martin Honnor with Guy Mayger, Tom Gillard and Oliver Turner, his guns glistening like varnished oak as they bore off in the moderate breeze. Chris Gillard, the pathfinder, rounded sixth with Andy Davis seventh. Steve Cockerill was in fifteenth, his yellow Rooster event leader rash vest clearly visible if you were in the club's office. Steve had donated the cool podium vests but unfortunately did not receive it for the race. At the bottom gate Mayger took the lead with Davenport and Honnor just ahead of Alex Butler and Cockerill who had made up 10 places. The big losers were Gillard and Davis who had sunk low. The front two were having a right old ding dong and Davenport re-took the lead at the top mark with Honnor consolidating and forming a great regatta. The triangle was completed as the breeze dropped and Mayger led into the finish line, tearful and triumphant. A fitting tribute to his mum who he lost very recently. Davenport, Honnor, Gillard and Lovering completed the top five.

Race 4 - 12+ knots, 180 degrees

The initial gate start was aborted, the PRO softening to the few starters who still have not grasped the concept of Gate Not Open yet. To be fair, Andy Davis was pathfinder and he was instructed to start at the black marker 20 seconds before the gun, he did not hold back and set off like his house was on fire, competitors saw the opening and went for it, just too soon.

The start proper was exciting and from my safe haven aboard the sturdy gate boat, exhilarating as Solo after Solo whizzed past my left shoulder. One individual cut it a little too close and shaved some paint off the stern, it also made one heck of a crunch. I should not name the culprit but 5615 was his sail number and he duly retired, looking slightly sheepish but obviously relieved that he had not sunk.

Frustratingly for Honnor and Cockerill, Davis tacked off on top of them and hooked straight into a nicer righty. He would probably have rounded first but Paul Davis was among a couple of dozen who started later and benefitted even more. The wind strength was up to 13-15 and the fleet powered up to the top mark, unfortunately giving me no time to make the transition from gate to media launch to top mark. Paul Davis took the honour, 'first to the mark' and would later receive a packet of Jammy Dodgers for his effort. So, from my distant position 500 yards from the top it would be Johny Coate, Turner, Davis and Chris Brown.

There was a big change down the leeward leg as the breeze filled in on the left of the course (as you look down) and this was also accentuated by the tidal influence, the result, Gillard took the lead with Vince Horey second and Paul Davis third. By the second lap I was beginning to fade, the fatigue of holding a one-and-a-half-pound camera for sustained periods was raising my lactic acid to a level I have not experienced since sports day 1975.

The PRO made a really good shout in moving the finish line to the windward mark, the final extra beat was held in the strongest wind of the Championship so far and would also allow the tired sailors to plane back into the beach. Gillard hung on by his toes from Andy Davis who was relishing the weight advantage. Paul Davis held for third with Honnor and Lovering completing the top five.

So, overnight after four races Tom Gillard will wear the leader's yellow rash vest with Cockerill and Honnor emblazoned in red and blue. Butler and Lovering are next and with a possible 5 races still to go, all to play/fight for.

The prize-giving was today supported by race day sponsor Customised Composites and one of our title Sponsors, Superspars. Two sets of super cool, super light, super dynamic carbon battens were won by two lucky individuals while David Parkin is the proud owner of a new Super Spar M2. A Superspars boom was also won by another very lucky competitor, a big thank you from the NSCA to Superspars and Customised Composites for your support of the Solo fleet.

Vince Horey once again won one of the Wally of the Day jackets for capsizing when in second and Nick Fisher won the other for falling off his bike into a bush on Sunday evening, possibly under the influence of alcohol but having said that, many of the fleet are unstable on a good day.

Monday, sponsored by P&B is another waiting game. There is a 3-hour delay as the land temperature builds to 30+ degrees. Unfortunately, the sea temperature is also getting warmer every year so sea breezes are less common... so says the soothsayer/carpark attendant.

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