Breezy conditions led to some close racing

When the sun shines and the wind decides to put in an appearance, there really is no better place to sail than in the bay off of Sidmouth.

Last Wednesday, there was near on perfect conditions for the more experienced members of the club, but there was, perhaps, a little too much wind for the juniors, who had only started this year.

Fortunately, three of our more experienced helms took two juniors each in their Mirrors and were able to give them some valuable experience and coaching and thanks to Graeme Robb, Richard Paterson and Laura Mitchell for taking the trouble.

The Scorpion fleet had some close racing in the breezy conditions, which gave some last-minute practise to those crews who have travelled to the National Championships, in Looe. Andy Hayman was putting his new boat through its paces and it was looking good, even without its new racing sails. Andy couldn’t quite keep up with his two sons, Alex and Max, in Alex’s newly repaired boat but it was still good to see the Hayman family on the water in force.

Alex and Max led for the whole of the race, closely followed by James Salter and Hope Brodie, who continue to put in consistently good performances, but couldn’t quite catch the leaders and had to settle for second place. Third place was taken by Miles Hapgood and Steve Smith.

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In the Lasers, Dave Martin took the win, followed home by Paul Wilson, who is really enjoying his sailing this year, and Barney Croft sailing a radial rigged boat. Josie Robb came home fourth, sailing one of the club’s boats to great effect. Josie is one of the smaller helms in the Laser fleet, which can be a disadvantage in windy conditions, but good boat-handling kept her out of the water.

Alice Rea enjoyed having a bit more wind to get her Topper around the course to another well-deserved win and it was encouraging to see Tom Robins brave the conditions in a Topper and sail to a good second place. Tom only started sailing this month, during the Sidmouth College activities week, and is an example of how good the club’s coaching system is.

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Saturday’s racing involved a smaller fleet, as many of the Scorpions had travelled down to Looe. It also coincided with the start of FolkWeek, which can have a detrimental effect on the numbers who want to sail. The sailors assure me that it has nothing to do with them wanting to join a Morris dance workshop, but more to do with parking problems!

We still had 12 boats on the water which, in the circumstances, was a good effort. In fact, we have seen a steady increase in the fleet sizes this year and we are now regularly getting 20-plus boats racing. Once again, the weather was excellent for sailing, with a steady west-south-west wind and plenty of it, particularly in the gusts which saw several capsizes. It’s not often that Bob Vine takes an involuntary swim, but the conditions got him on this occasion, much to pleasure of the whole fleet.

Graeme Robb had no completion in the Mirror class, but still sailed two races and enjoyed the outing. Simon Price and his daughter Imogen won both Scorpion races and the absence of the main Scorpion fleet gave Nick Dicks and one of his forever-changing crew, and Craig and Ryan Cabot, a chance to feature on the score sheet. Nick took second place in the first race with the Cabots in third and their places were reversed in the second race. Just about the whole of the Laser Fleet went swimming at one time or another during the two races. Bob Vine won the first race but his capsize in the second allowed Josie Robb to take a well-earned first place.

Andy Swain was second in the first race, followed home by Steve Chipperfield and Josie. For the second race, Andy Swain took over safety boat duties and loaned his boat to Andy Mitchell for an enjoyable race to last place and possibly the highlight was that he managed to capsize and recover without getting his hat wet. Well done Andy!

Alice took the win in the Toppers, followed home by Sapphire Smith, Connor Fitch and Matt Collett, three of our newer members. In the case of Connor and Sapphire, they have been sailing for exactly one year, having learnt at last year’s Sidmouth College activities week, and it is good to see their improvement such that Connor won the second race pushing Alice back to second place.

We are hoping that the return of the Scorpions this weekend will be accompanied by plenty of silverware from the National Championships, but no doubt James Salter will include details in his next report.

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