Challenging Regatta conditions at Sidmouth

With the Sidmouth Regatta weekend there should have been four days of racing although, with the unfavourable conditions, only two days were sailed.

With the Sidmouth Regatta weekend there should have been four days of racing although, with the unfavourable conditions, only two days were sailed. The run of bad conditions started on Wednesday, so rough surfing was on the cards instead.

The regatta started on Saturday with four races, two back-to-back in the morning and afternoon. Racing kicked off early under a very shifty north westerly, with a course set well inshore with the advantage to spectators.

Unfortunately, the proximity to the shore made the conditions even more shifty and hideous to sail in! Under these tricky conditions, Alex Hayman and Sam Gosling turned out to be very fast, winning both races of the morning, playing the shifts well and having just about everything go their way.

James Salter and Hope Brodie bagged two seconds, behind them was some close racing between Nick Jennings with Laura Mitchell and John Nicole and Sally Stephens. While John and Sally got their spinnaker up for the first time, Nick and Laura capsized.


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Bob Vine also took advantage of the tricky conditions, picking up two wins. Gerald Woodley took two seconds in the Lasers, despite having at least one swim (a not so well executed dry capsize).

By the time the afternoon races were started a few more sailors had turned up, one had returned from the three-legged race, the luggers had arrived from Beer, and the race management had realised that the sailing part of the regatta wasn't a demonstration for spectators, it was actually about having some good racing.

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In turn, the course was moved further out to sea, providing a much steadier and stronger breeze, much better for racing. John Keast and Nick Lake, making a long awaited return to sailing, provided the most excitement of the morning. John somehow managed to avoid the lugger of Martin Bagwell, who had tacked on to port and nearly holed the boat, and then avoided two other collisions in quick succession. In all this, John and Nick conceded second place to James and Hope, just managing to sneak inside the Bagwells' lugger. In the end, the race finished much as in the morning, Alex and Sam won, with James and Hope second.

In the second race the regatta front runners were right down the pack at the first mark, after going the wrong way up the beat, which allowed Nick to lead his first race of the regatta, with John and Nick up in second.

The lead was soon lost, on the second reach. James and Hope flew their kite and flew over most of the fleet into the lead. Alex and Sam also held their spinnaker through the leg, pushing them up through the fleet. John and Nick's challenge for the race came to an end after having some trouble getting the spinnaker back in. Alex and Sam briefly regained the lead for a lap before being caught again upwind by James and Hope, who went on to take the win, with Alex and Sam in second.

In the Lasers, Chris Clapp decided to make an appearance and, as usual, he won both races. Gerald was second in both, leaving the regatta wide open going into the final day.

With the Regatta wide open in all fleets, overall positions were up for grabs on Sunday and, with a bit more breeze about, there could have been a lot of change in the result.

Instead of some exciting racing in a good breeze, the decision to call off the racing was made. This handed the Scorpion win to Alex and Sam, much to the disappointment of James and Hope, who had fancied their chances in a blow, but were left in second place.

Chris Clapp had a similar problem in the Lasers, despite winning the two races he sailed, it was only good enough for third, Bob Vine took the win, with Gerald taking second.

Paul Kennedy won the Toppers (three firsts and a second), over Rory Kennedy (three seconds, one first).

Fortunately, we were allowed to go sailing on Bank Holiday Monday for the annual long distance race, this year to a mark laid off Otter Head.

To keep it short, it is often tactics that decide who wins a long distance race - more wind out to sea or stay out of the tide and hope for a lift by staying inshore. There was a huge split in the fleet on the way up. Alex and Amy Hayman took the lead sailing out to sea, James Salter and Hope Brodie used the same tactics, although were not able to point as close to the wind. Mike Holme and Jayne Clancy chose to go up the middle, Nick Jennings and Chris Clapp tried the inside and it didn't work.

The outside was the best way to go, taking Alex and Amy round the mark around 10 boat lengths in front of James and Hope. With the spinnakers up, the way home was considerably faster, and Sidmouth was considerably easier to find than an orange buoy in the middle of the sea!

Alex and Amy held their lead to win in a time of 1hr 10mins, over James and Hope (1hr 13mins). Mike and Jayne made it back third, Nick and Chris fourth, Philippa and Josie Robb fifth. In the Lasers Paul Wilson beat Hamish Spence.

Thanks to all the race management team, although, in my opinion, we definitely should have gone sailing on Sunday and the course should have been further out on Saturday morning! The season is starting to tail off now, with only a few more Wednesday evening sails remaining, the next major event being the Laser masters in a few weeks - which I hear John Keast is still looking for help with.

Good Sailing

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