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Solo Open at Royal Harwich Yacht Club

by Chris Mayhew 9 Oct 2022 12:13 BST 1 October 2022
Solos at Royal Harwich © Chris Mayhew

The sky was clear and a fresh to strong Westerly had arrived. The forecast from suggested enough colour that it could have depicted the global markets and the Sterling/Dollar the week before.

A dozen keen Solo sailors joined the Laser fleet for what is a regular fixture in the diary. The Royal Harwich Solo fleet is slowly building with other new recruits waiting and watching on the side-lines having seen the colourful forecast this may have deterred a few more entrants.

Race Officer Dr Chris Brown held a briefing and introduction that this was going to be back-to-back and he aimed for 4 races. Racing was going to held on the top of the tide, making the best of the Orwell. White horses could be seen in the channel with the wind arriving from the Orwell Bridge the scene was set for some challenging racing.

Launching was quickly away and a very quick arrival to the start towards the Nacton shore side. Race 1 was set to be a straight windward leeward course with the various Laser rigs starting before the Solos. Race 1 had a close start with everyone on the line assisted by the flood tide. Chris Mayhew from Royal Harwich was moving at full speed as the gun went and led the fleet towards the channel, making the best from additional flow from the flood tide. Simon Davis (RHYC) was hot on Mayhew's transom as the fleet headed downwind on the run to the bottom mark. Tim Lewis (RYA) was in the mix and recent Solo joiner Chris Bunn from Norfolk Broads YC challenging the front pack. Mark Maskell (Blackwater) was in the mix in the strong pack.

Three quarters of the way down the run the gusts were coming and building on the already fresh breeze. Davis was covering Mayhew to prevent his escape on the run and Mayhew gybed out for clear air, but Davis took a refreshing dip in the Orwell with a rapid capsize. These gusts were many people's downfall and rescue crew were busy supporting a collection of upturned Laser and Solo hulls littering the Orwell.

With one lap still to go the fleet battled on with local boat Matt House powering up the fleet through the swimmers. At the finish Mayhew extended with his clear air to lead from Lewis, then House.

The breeze was still up for Race 2 and this race was going to be a starboard hand triangle to keep people out of the channel. Port end was biased, and Mayhew was at the pin with a general spread along the line. Mayhew took a small left shift left, tacked, and was lucky enough to clear the fleet. The wind was reasonably steady and the advantage in using the flood tide was still beneficial but judging the lay lines was tricky with the flood tide. Lewis was consistently up there chasing Bunn and House who were battling it out. The reaches were enjoyed at great speed over 2 laps before Mayhew took line honours from Lewis and Bunn. House was 4th with Godfrey Clarke and Patrick Overs 5th and 6th respectively - now the only survivors after the wind decimated the fleet. The remainder were on shore, many with thoughts of returning to the playing area but unfortunately they could not see that the wind was now easing back for races 3 and 4.

Race 3 was now around 15 knots and a triangle and sausage. Again, the tide still flooding so protecting left was still the order. This time was a close battle with Lewis leading out with Bunn, Mayhew, House and Clarke all up there. Lewis rounded first, followed by Clarke before Mayhew touched the windward mark putting him back. A gusty reach saw some good planing conditions with the top boats rounding together. Clarke lead towards the bottom mark ahead of Lewis. The next beat and run saw changeable conditions with the wind up and down and lots of powering up and back down again. The finish line saw Lewis first, with Clarke, Bunn then House.

Lewis was Mr Consistent - with a 2-2-1 and the final race was again lighter with around 10-15 knots. In Race 4 the tide was a little slacker and picking up the smaller shifts seemed to pay for another triangle sausage. Again the racing was close but at the finish it was a happy House that took the bullet with Mayhew keeping Lewis in 3rd from Clarke and Overs respectively.

Mayhew took the overall win, pushed hard by Lewis who was always up there.

All sailors were suitably tired and returned to the shore for the prize-giving at the top of the tide. The retirees had already cleaned up and had recovered bother their equipment and bodies now resentful of not having returned to the race course following the windy race 1.

Thanks to all the Race Committee and some very busy support crew.

Royal Harwich Yacht Club welcomes Solos and dinghies to both their Sunday Open Winter Series starting on the 23rd October and Freezer Series starting in January 2023. See for more information.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmR1R2R3R4Pts
1st4921Chris Mayhew11‑524
2nd5704Tim Lewis221‑35
3rd4658Matt House3‑4418
4th5946Chris Bunn433(DNC)10
5th4801Godfrey Clarke‑652411
6th5904Pat Overs5‑66516
7th5137Derek MayhewRET(DNC)DNCDNC37
7th5829Simon DavisRET(DNC)DNCDNC37
7th5342Stephen PatesRET(DNC)DNCDNC37
7th4551Bill HutchingsRET(DNC)DNCDNC37
11th5496Alan Hall(DNC)DNCDNCDNC39
11th6007Mark Maskell(DNC)DNCDNCDNC39

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