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HD Sails Scottish Solo Travellers and Ben Ledi Trophy at Aberdeen & Stonehaven Yacht Club

by Ross Watson 27 Aug 2022 16:41 BST 20-21 August 2022

The Scottish Solo fleet made the trip northwards to Stonehaven for the Aberdeen & Stonehaven YC annual regatta and the latest event in the HD Sails Scottish Solo Travellers series.

This weekend the fleet were also competing for the Ben Ledi trophy which counts all races sailed. Usually we only have one day events but we were here for both days so there was a discussion as to how many races might count as the SI's had the option of up to four races each day. The forecast for Saturday was for plenty of wind from the South West, a forecast that was spot on. On arrival it certainly looked very windy offshore and pretty marginal conditions but the wind moderated a little and we launched and headed out for a short course area near the shore.

The Solos were second start after the D Zero's giving us the opportunity to size up the start line bias. With the course set near the cliffs there were some viscous gusts and shifts to catch everyone out especially near the windward mark. The wind was going from F2 to F5 very quickly. Once round the windward mark and heading out to sea we encountered the next obstacle. There was a big swell running but this was at right angles to the wind. Upwind on port tack you would occasionally catch a wave underneath you and start to plane, a bit unexpected in a Solo. Round the windward mark and it was quite a shock to be on a flat out plane on a broad reach and suddenly see a big wave coming directly towards you. Some of us thought our boats would break, but the FRP hulls are very solid. The next leg was a run and now the swell was coming from the beam making balance even more tricky. After this we had the gybe mark where much of the fleet spent some time swimming. The final reach was pretty tight with only the occasional wave to surf down.

In the first race Charlie Brecknell was never far from the front and took the win. A big header at the first leeward mark meant some boats barely laid and the shifts kept the fleet together. Keith Milroy was sailing the wrong side of the committee boat until a kindly hail sent him to the correct side. Your scribe had a lengthy capsize at the second gybe mark but was relieved to see the shorten course flag up meaning one lap less than the leaders!

The second race started in a deceptively lighter wind and the leaders at the first mark were Wille Todd and Ross Watson who had gone left up the beat. Down the run Willie picked up his own personal gust and stormed away only to lose the lead with a capsize but with a quick recovery he lost only a single place to Ross. Up the next beat Kevan Gibb came through to take the lead just before the windward mark. But it all changed when a big gust left Kevan capsized by the mark, Willie slowly falling in to windward and Ross in irons. Malcolm Worsley was next round and happily took the lead, holding it to the finish. At the next gybe mark the leaders got round ok but Ross and Kevan had a competition to see which of them would spend the longest either upside down of with the mast pointed to windward. It was pretty brutal by then and several boats tacked round the mark. There were five rescue boats afloat and they were very busy in that race.

Race three started quickly and conditions were a little easier. Charlie Brecknell led at the first mark but sailed higher than the rest down the first run and dropped a place. By the next windward mark he was back in front though and stayed there until the finish.

The day clearly belonged to Charlie Brecknell who just loves a good breeze and his 1 2 1 results were impressive in the tough conditions. Steve Ede was never far behind and showing a lot of consistency. Once ashore there was a barbeque outside the club which was included in the entry fee. A feature of Stonehaven are the two bars, the Ship and the Marine, within a hundred yards of the club and overlooking the harbour. Several beers were supped in the Ship before a few hardy souls headed into the town for a few more. There was much discussion about venues for next season and it is fair to say the consensus changed as the night wore on!

Conditions on Sunday were much easier with a lot less wind and the swell was not so noticeable. With the wind shifting constantly it was much tougher for the race team and the time between races increased as the course was relaid. The change in conditions was also seen in the results with Steve Ede, who had made the long journey from Ardleigh SC on dominant form winning all four races sailed that day. He was always near the front at the first windward mark and picked up places downwind. With the wind shifting constantly to the right the courses became a bit restricted with the beat becoming a fetch in two races. The race committee kept these ones short with the second race lasting just over twenty minutes. Hamish Whyte found the conditions much more to his liking on Sunday and led the fleet to the windward mark in the first race of the day.

A few minutes before the start of the third race the wind increased sharply. There was a lot of shouting from the D Zero's starting ahead of us and with a very, very short and starboard biased line a recall looked a certainty. Amazingly the fleet hung back with Ross, after being over at the previous two starts, being first away.

After three races most of the fleet assumed that that was it for the day but another one was started to give seven for the weekend. With the wind still moving around this meant another delay before the start. By now the sun was shining giving us the opportunity to admire the ruins of Dunottar castle over the top of the cliffs and the beautiful war memorial on top of the hill! Those who went left up the first beat looked to be in front before a big shift to the right meant the leading boats on that side reached in to the mark.

Once ashore we had the sight of class president Patrick Burns and Scottish rep Ross Watson struggling to work out the results. For the weekend Steve Ede was the clear winner but after countback it was Charlie Brecknell who won the Ben Ledi trophy from Kevan Gibb.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5R6R7Pts
15618Steve EdeArdleigh SC23211118
26043Kevan GibbLargo Bay SC383223417
34975Charlie BrecknellChanonry SC121368619
45602Keith MilroyLargo Bay SC544742322
55483Hamish WhyteRoyal Tay YC655634528
65801Willie ToddLargs SC77DNF857236
74502Malcolm worsley Royal Tay YC41DNF579DNC38
85841Ross WatsonEast Lothian YC89DNC485DNF46
95889David ParkinAberdeen & Stonehaven YCDNCDNCDNC1096756
104110Loz YoungDerwent Reservoir SC96DNC910DNCDNC58
116014Patrick Burns Dalgety Bay SCDNCDNCDNC111110DNC68

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