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Salcombe Brewery Solo class open meeting at Salcombe Yacht Club

by Timm Fells 23 Oct 2023 17:53 BST 21-22 October 2023

The Salcombe Brewery sponsored Solo Open at Salcombe on 21/22 October attracted an excellent turnout of 42 boats. The forecast for the weekend which had been all over the place in the build up finally settled on 12-18 knots from the Northwest on Saturday and 10-15 knots Southwesterly on Sunday.

Unfortunately for the Saturday races, a Northwesterly is one of the most difficult wind directions in Salcombe. While conditions up the estuary towards Kingsbridge are excellent, the start / finish line is in the lee of the town with occasional zephyrs reaching the water from random directions. This in combination with an ebbing tide made the starts particularly challenging. Getting away from the line and around Snapes Point in good shape was going to be key.

In the first race, the majority of the fleet started on the Portlemouth shore with a group of experienced locals attempting the higher risk town side where the breeze over the town can reverse providing a starboard lift up to the Ferry Inn. This time, the conservative Portlemouth strategy won with Olly Turner leading up to Snapes and into the true breeze up through the bag to Gerston.

Olly was in his element, with the breeze pushing 20 knots, using his natural gifts to power round the course, extending his lead. Initially chased by James Le Couillard, locals Chris Cleaves, Tim Law and Tim Fells came through to battle it out for second on the second return to Gerston. Tim Fells just snuck around in second and took up chasing Olly on the run back to the finish line. Olly held his nerve to take a fist-pumping victory with Tim Fells in second, Chris Cleaves getting the upper hand on Tim Law and Paul McCombie the first visitor in fifth.

With exactly the same challenge for the second race start, more boats opted for the Portlemouth shore. This time, Tim Law who was over towards the town side, benefited from his own personal gust to shoot away up to the Ferry Inn and into new breeze from Batson to hold a good lead at Snapes Point. Chris Cleaves took up the chase followed by Olly Turner who fell back taking too high a line past Lincombe. Tim Fells pulled through into third at Gerston after which, with the wind backing a bit to the west, the race became rather processional with Tim Law looking comfortable in the lead.

However, being Salcombe in this wind direction it is not over till its over. By the Ferry Landing, the leading three boats had all become overlapped with the lead changing on every little gust. Finally, Chris Cleaves hooked into the final gust to snatch the win with Tim Law and Tim Fells close behind. Not far behind, Simon Dobson got the upper hand in his race long battle with Olly Turner.

Competitors arriving in the harbour on Sunday morning were greeted by a moderate Southwesterly, bright sunshine and the last of the flood giving top of the tide racing. It couldn't be much better.

For the start of race three, the wind was quite unstable, flicking 20 degrees and making the choice of which end of the line was favoured a bit of a head scratcher. On the gun the breeze went right favouring those on the town side who had a brief period of feeling smug before a big left shift brought the Portlemouth side back into play. Wise old owl Will Henderson, who had started mid line, benefited from both shifts to take a good lead up the middle of the track, rounding Blackstone in the lead.

On the long run down to Yalton, Tim Fells sailed the pressure lines well to take the lead which he held on the beat back into harbour. As the leaders entered the stronger breeze in the harbour, Tim Law did what he does best and put the hammer down to break through Tim Fells cover and take the lead but even he was shocked by the speed of Robin Hodges who absolutely scorched up the beat to take a good lead at Blackstone for the second time. From this point he was untroubled and came home to take an excellent bullet with Tim Law second and Tim Fells third ahead of Will Henderson. Of the overnight leading group Chris Cleaves had a tough race to finish 17th and Olly Turner recovered from near the back to take 9th.

Going into the last race, it was all still to play for between Law, Fells, Cleaves and Turner. With the ebb tide starting to run under the fleet, but with a bias to the Portlemouth end, Tim Fells won the start to tack onto port and lead up the short beat to Mill Bay mark. He rounded just ahead of David Greening, with Cleaves, Hodges and Law in close contention. Fells managed to keep clear air to slowly extend his lead at Yalton and then on the beat back up into the harbour.

In a repeat of race three, once back into the breezier beat up the harbour to Blackstone, Law again ground down Fells lead to lead on the run to Crossways with a 10 boat length advantage over Fells with Cleaves not far behind. Although Fells closed slightly it looked like Law was on his way to both the race win and the Open win. However, a gust off the shore at Fishermans gybed Law into Ditch End where he ran into lighter air. With the door opening, Fells luffed out into more pressure by the Fuel Barge and sailed around Law who was left rueing his luck.

From this point, with the tide underneath on the beat up to the finish line, Fells was able to stretch away to take the race win and with it the title on count back from Law. Chris Cleaves third place put him one point back in third overall. Olly Turners 9th in race three proved critical as it gave him fourth on count back from Robin Hodges. Paul McCombie put in a consistent series to be first visitor in sixth overall.

The weekend ended with a prize-giving on Salcombe Yacht Clubs sunny terrace with everyone agreed that it had been a great weekend of competitive racing in beautiful surroundings. With 30 home club boats on the water, SYCs Solo fleet lived up to its marketing of Probably the Best Solo Fleet in the country!

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4Pts
1st5739Tim FellsSalcombe YC2‑3316
2nd5966Tim LawSalcombe YC‑42226
3rd5879Chris CleavesSalcombe YC31‑1737
4th5546Olly TurnerSalcombe YC159‑1215
5th5096Robin HodgesSalcombe YC7‑91715
6th5777Paul McCombie 575‑2817
7th5898Simon DobsonSalcombe YC‑13410519
8th5560Will HendersonSalcombe YC‑15144422
9th6003Paul Jacobs 9‑288623
10th5601Simon YatesSalcombe YC‑24871025
11th5406James GreenhillSalcombe YC1610‑23935
12th5926John SteelsStarcross1212‑181438
13th5107Martin HodgsonSalcombe YC813‑291839
14th5769John BurnSalcombe YC1811‑191140
15th5792David GreeningSalcombe YC20‑2313841
16th5755Graham Cranford‑SmithSalcombe YC19‑2261742
17th5649Spod Olive 23616(OCS)45
18th6076Richard Instone 620‑211945
19th6088Iain McGregorSalcombe YC102114(DNF)45
20th5876Gavin StevensSalcombe YC22‑35121650
21st4788Simon BallantineSalcombe YC141526‑2755
22nd6030Adrian GriffinSalcombe YC2116‑302057
23rd6063James Le Couilliard 1117‑343159
24th5139Dan BridgerSalcombe YC28‑30201361
25th5658Robert PeeblesSalcombe YC1725‑282466
26th5021William WallSalcombe YC(DNC)DNC111569
27th5570Malcolm Buchanan ‑3731152369
28th5731Vernon Perkins 3018‑362674
29th4955Mark Blackham ‑3226223078
30th2952Mark SanckenSalcombe YC‑3632242581
31st5734Chris Spencer ChapmanSYC‑3429322182
32nd5453Bruce HattersleySalcombe YC29(DNF)252983
33rd5747Roger LumbySalcombe YC31‑34312284
34th5925Robin MilledgeLymington TSC273327(OCS)87
35th5313Jonathan ReynoldsSalcombe YC2619(DNC)DNC88
36th4857Michael HodgesSalcombe YC2524(DNC)DNC92
37th5088Tristram SquireSalcombe YC3527‑373395
38th4636Miles Thomas 33‑36333298
39th5411Stuart CartwrightSYC‑383735DNF110
40th5402Alex JanzenSalcombe YC39DNF(DNC)DNC122
41st5183Malcolm MackleySalcombe YCDNF(DNC)DNCDNC127
42nd3654Geoffrey CoxSYC(DNC)DNCDNCDNC129

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