Awaiting perfect sailing conditions

Despite promising long-range weather forecasts, only one sailing race was completed at Sidmouth this week, writes James Salter.

Despite promising long-range weather forecasts, only one sailing race was completed at Sidmouth this week, and that was on Wednesday evening with fairly light southerly breezes and a calm sea. The stage was set for a classic Wednesday night light wind race - the wind just about hanging around before dying completely just before the end of the race.The start line was set reasonably narrow for the fleet size which made taking advantage of the port end bias tricky. Alex Hayman and Tom Francis were the only boat to attempt to start at the pin end, and it didn't go all that well for them - they were soon over the line and had to go back. At the other end Nick Jennings was being squeezed up above the mark, so starting mid line proving to be the best option. With most of the fleet away cleanly, the first beat was crucial, along with the first mark rounding. Miles Hapgood and Steve Smith clearly struggled with the latter process, after a good first beat saw them challenging for second place.Miles decided to attempt a port mark rounding on a starboard course, a schoolboy error which wasn't the best tactic. James Salter and Hope Brodie managed to sneak a few boat lengths lead over the fleet at the windward mark with Alex and Tom making up some distance to sit in second place. This was how it was to stay for the first lap before Alex attempted to break cover and moved out to the left of the course, where there seemed to be a little more breeze for the lightweight crew and they took the lead. Taking advantage of their optimal conditions Alex and Tom pulled away as the laps ticked past, virtually unchallenged. James and Hope finished up in second in the Scorpions after racing most of the way round the last few laps with Bob Vine, the leading Laser, who seemed to be everywhere! Bob was a clear winner in the Lasers. I'm not all that sure who was second. The second place Laser seemed to be sailing round with the Scorpion mid-fleet of Miles and Steve followed by Nick Jennings and Scott Tobin, finishing third and fourth respectively in the Scorpion fleet. Nick Benson was out in his Mirror making his way around the course and took first place.Whilst there was some tight racing on Wednesday night there was a distinct lack of excitement. Sailors were looking forward to the strong winds forecast for Saturday - ss it happened it all came to nothing, the wind was stronger than forecast, probably a very strong 6, maybe even a 7, with a big sea causing almost everyone to whimp out (with the exception of James and Alex). How dull!Racing continues next week, with Wednesday, Saturday and Monday races. As always thanks to all of the race management teams and rescue boat crew. Hopefully I'll be back racing soon after finishing university.Good SailingJames Salter is currently sitting his finals at university.

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