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Salcombe Yacht Club Spring Series Race 3

by David Greening & John Burn 25 Mar 16:41 GMT 23 March 2024

Solo Spring Series Race 3 (by David Greening)

With the cognoscente informing themselves with weather apps indicating gusts in excess of thirty five knots from the North West and therefore saving themselves a wasted journey, a reduced fleet of nine Solos headed to the starting area on the basis that if they could survive the run from the slipway to the start line, then the hills to the west of the Ria would offer some protection, which indeed was the case, except that most of the wind that did arrive in the starting area had a significant vertical component, which explained why several boats were capsized before the start.

Lesser Race Officers might have abandoned racing, but Dan Bridger has form in starting Solo races in challenging conditions, and this one was to be no exception, and set a course to Saltstone to an X mark off the start line, to Saltstone and back to what would become a shortened course at the Club line.

Having righted his boat after a pre-race bottom clean, Roger Guess led Tim Law and John Evans away from the start line by sticking to the more predictable wind on the Portlemouth shore, while the rest of the fleet was wallowing in multi directional wind, eventually all of the fleet got away, and big gusts started to emerge out of Batson Creek, the wind built as the boats turned onto a fetch at Snapes Point, at which point it got very windy followed by moments of not very windy at all.

After flat out reaching back and forth through the Bag, Guess and Law became becalmed while trying to run into the X mark, which gave the pursuing back a glimpse of possibilities, however Guess rounded first with Law in pursuit and Cleaves, Evans, Jago and Greening forming an orderly queue back to Saltstone.

Most of the seasoned group of Solo sailors considered the broad reach back through the Bag from Saltstone as the windiest and fastest that they have encountered in their many years of Solo sailing, however given their average age, it could have been that their memories had failed them, however it was very windy. So much so that within sight of the finish line Guess capsized for the second time, and Law's boat filled up, fortunately for them they had a sufficient lead to gain first and second places respectively, while John Evans grabbed third place in a photo finish between the next five boats.

Brilliant fun in challenging conditions, thanks to the Race Team and Safety Boat crews.

Handicap Spring Series Race 3 (by John Burn)

After an improved turnout the previous week, numbers were once again down as the weather forecast no doubt deterred some.

Race Officer Dan Bridger had much to ponder as he contemplated his course options. No wind, lots of wind, too much wind, not to mention the sun, rain, and hail—you name it, he had it.

He settled for 5-X-5-X-5, with the X mark being placed in the middle of the estuary between the line and Millbay.

Tim Fells and Frances Gifford, sailing a Lark, were joined by the two Merlin Rockets of Andrew and Tris Squire along with John Burn and James Greenhill.

Tim and Fran took the lead right from the get-go, demonstrating some great boat handling skills in the tricky conditions off the start line.

As the Lark and Merlins arrived at Saltsone, a mighty squall hit, resulting in big grins and an exhilarating two-sail blast back from the mark. At this point, the Squires fell over, which enabled Burn and Greenhill to get back into the race after they had been swimming on the previous leg.

Tim and Fran were the first to reach the windless section of the race track in front of the club, which allowed John and James to close up, but they never got close enough to put Tim and Fran under any real pressure.

The second trip to Saltsone was a more controlled affair, as the wind had abated slightly and the return leg enabled spinnakers to be flown.

As they reached the main harbour, it had blown up again as the second squall of the day blew through, this time bringing the hail with it.

Thankfully, the course was shortened, and line honours, along with corrected time victory, went to Tim and Fran in the Lark.

John and James finished second, while Andrew and Tris unfortunately did not finish.

1st Tim and Fran Lark
2nd John Burn and James Greenhill

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