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Zhik Paris 2024

Comet Association Championships at Silver Wing Sailing Club

by Adam Wickenden 17 May 11:01 BST 11-12 May 2024

Silver Wing Sailing club hosted the Comet Association Championships over the weekend of 11/12th May. We had 18 boats entered from as far away as Beer, Merthyr Tydfil, Ogston and Winsford Flash. The event was to consist of 5 races spread over the two days. The three races on the Saturday also counted towards the Silver Wing Comet Open Trophy.

The forecast in the preceding week was eyed nervously. High pressure may be good for sun, but less so with wind. It however transpired we would see two days of easterly winds, a good direction for Silver Wing.

Saturday, with a first start scheduled for 12:00 had the best wind. The earlier start of 10.30 on the Sunday meant the wind took until the middle of the first race to fully settle.

The wind would oscillate through about 30 degrees on both days, leading to the RO constantly fretting about beats not being true. Some swift mark dragging by the support boats mostly cured this.

Saturday

Race 1

I'm not sure that the Comets are a fleet renowned for many general recalls, but they managed one on their first go of race 1! We can't name names, after all being a general recall there were too many boats over to identify. In fairness though, the oscillating wind meant that the line had become temporarily very port biased in the last minute before the start.

Second attempt at starting race 1. The fleet had been briefed on the possible use of the 'U' flag after a general recall. 'We've never seen that before' was the reply so RO decides to give the fleet a second chance starting under 'P' instead of 'U'. They were still keen, but everyone had got back behind the line by the start gun.

Guy Wilkins in 806 lead at the first mark. By the end of the first lap Guy Wilkins and Jeffry Smith 872 had pulled a big lead from the pursuing bunch; mainly due to keeping the wind in a gust on the run from the second windward mark, while the pursuing pack were left in a hole. In that pack John Coppenhall in 532, Jacky Stagg 894 and Ben Palmer in 597 were having a close battle for the first lap or so. Palmer was able to pull up into third by the end while John Coppenhall dropped back later in the race.

The lead swapped places, with Jeffrey Smith eventually winning from Guy Wilkins.

Now to the booby prize contender. The fleet had to sail through the start/finish line each time they went up the first beat on each lap. Due to the size of the fleet we needed to set a long line, meaning it was possible that some boats would decide to sail through it on other legs. So, it was briefed that the line would not be an obstruction on other legs and not to worry about it except on the first beat of each lap. Alas local boat and event organiser Ken Baker in 695 interpreted that as only needing to sail through it on the finishing lap, resulting in an NSC.

Race 2

After a lunch of lasagne, the fleet reconvened for the second and third races, to be sailed back-to-back in the afternoon.

We kept the same course, with the windward marks moved left to accommodate the swinging wind. This time the fleet all behaved themselves (or the wind happened to be true in the final minute before the start), and they got away cleanly. Eddie Pope was seen doing a 720 penalty just after the start however.

The leaders at the first mark were Chris Robinson in 867 and Jeffrey Smith in 872. They quickly pulled out a big lead on the rest of the fleet, followed by Andy Dale in 788.

In order to accommodate long enough start line, the committee boat had anchored about 20 feet on the inside (non-course side) of the second gybe mark. This was to provide great entertainment, with some of the fleet choosing the tactical option of gybing, and then going high to go round the front of the committee boat rather than pass behind it as the bulk did. On the third lap we heard a bit of a splash and turned to find a Comet on its side next to us. The boat and its sail number looked strangely familiar. It was Ken Baker in 695 whose rudder had come half up. Following his NSC in race 1 we can only assume that he awarded himself the event booby prize that he himself had purchased - a pair or Port and Starboard socks. (I was not at the prize-giving to check!) By the third lap Andy Dale had pulled through into first place, with Jeffrey Smith second and Chris Robinson third.

Race 3

The wind had backed further and dropped slightly, requiring both windward and leeward marks to be dragged to get the two beats roughly correct.

Chris Robinson in 867 pulled a lead out from Guy Wilkins in 806 and Peter Mountford in 864. Robinson maintained the lead to the end, with a tight race developing for third place. Guy Wilkins was second with Andy Dale in 788 pipping Peter Mountford for third.

As we were holding the two-day Association Championships, we decided to designate the Saturday effectively the Silverwing Comet Open and the contest for our 'Comet Trophy'. This was previously a Fireball class trophy back when Silver Wing was the BEA (British European Airways) sailing club. It is believed to be part of a DeHavilland Heron propellor. The criterion was all 3 Saturday races to count - no discard. We had three boats - Jeffry Smith, Chris Robinson and Guy Wilkins all on 9 points and they were separated by tiebreak - Smith having 1, 2, 6 while Robinson had 1, 3, 5.

That evening saw a social evening, including bar skittles. We'd remembered having the alley from ages back, some digging in the loft and woodwork by Ken saw it resurrected. Eddie Pope won, and the race officer (in charge of scoring) was almost taken out by a low flying skittle - not the result of bowling by any of the Comet fleet we hasten to add.

Sunday

The first race Sunday was scheduled for 10:30 to allow for an early departure for the competitors. The wind on arrival at 9:00 looked better than expected, though annoyingly it softened a bit. A slightly simpler course than Sunday was set to account for the light and somewhat patchy wind of about 5kts, forecast to build through the morning.

Race 4

We waited about 20 minutes to allow the wind to settle, and then were off. Ben Palmer in 597 was OCS, and returned to start. The wind had filled in giving a good first beat. A big left shift allowed Jeffry Smith to make big gains into second place on the second beat, but it was Guy Wilkins who led through the line at the end of the first lap. Eddie Pope had finished the first beat in fourth, but by the end of the second lap he was up into first. There were battles going on throughout the fleet; we particularly noted one between 868 - Helen Evans, 231 - Steve Gregory and 894 - Jacky Stagg.

Race 5

We commenced the start sequence pretty much immediately after the end or race 4. The wind had filled in and we wanted to make the most of it. Andy Dale in 788 led at the first mark. An oscillation in the wind turned the second beat into a fetch, however the wind filled in, allowing for a four-lap race. Eddie Pope was able to pull into the lead in a gust on the run on the second lap, and held that to the end.

The fleet then retired for afternoon tea and cakes and prize-giving.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoRigHelmClubCategoryR1R2R3R4R5Pts
1st872White XtraJeffrey SmithCrawley Mariners Yacht ClubAM12‑6238
2nd377White XtraEdwin PopeOgston SCAM4‑651111
3rd788StandardAndy DaleEyott SCV‑9135211
4th806White XtraGuy WilkinsChipstead SCAM2‑524412
5th867White XtraChris RobinsonBurghfield SCV531‑6615
6th597StandardBen PalmerBaltic Wharf Sailing Club 34‑93515
7th800White XtraHenry JaggersBeer SCAM7777‑1028
8th864White XtraPeter MountfordStaunton Harold Sailing ClubAM‑10848929
9th579White XtraAlastair StaggBowmoor Sailing ClubV‑129129838
10th694White XtraAlun BevanMerthyr Tydfil Sailing Club 61313‑16739
11th532StandardJohn CoppenhallHunts SCAM8101110‑1239
12th894White XtraJacky StaggBowmoor Sailing ClubV L11148‑151144
13th174White XtraMeg WarrenChipstead SCAM L14‑1710111449
14th231White XtraSteve GregoryFrensham Pond SCAM1311‑14141351
15th705White XtraMartin LoudWinsford Flash SCAM1515‑16121557
16th868White XtraHelen EvansSilverwing SCV L‑161615131660
17th695White XtraKen BakerSilverwing SCAM(NSC)12DNSDNCDNC69
18th43White XtraCharlotte Mendes da CostaSilverwing SCV L(DNF)DNCDNCDNCDNC76

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