Chills and thrills on New Year’s Day

Sidmouth Sailing Club’s Vice Commodore decided it would be a good idea to start the sailing season earlier this year, writes Keith Brodie.

In fact he couldn’t have arranged it any earlier and 10 boats took to the water on the January 1 for some team racing between two teams representing the Vice Commodore Nick Jennings and the Rear Commodore Scott Tobin.

Team racing involves sailing a usual triangle course but doing one’s best to get in the way of members from the opposing team to make sure that your own team wins the race.

The rules demand that all of the tactics are still within the laws governing dinghy racing. As most of the members have taken their boats home for the winter, the event was held using the club’s fleet of Toppers, Lasers and Fevas. The Toppers particularly are small boats, generally crewed by junior sailors, and so to see some rather large adult sailors folding themselves into very small cockpits was rather funny to say the least.

The event consisted of three races managed by Hugh Sutherland and Alice Rea and there was some very close sailing. Oliver Salter was sailing a Laser on the same team as Chris Clapp and set about causing as much inconvenience as possible to the opposition by putting himself in their way and making sure that Chris came home with three wins.

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James Salter, home for the holidays, and enjoying the chance to get on the water managed to avoid his father who was on the other team and secured two second places. James’ team mate Paul Wilson avoided the spoiling tactics and had three third places.

These combined results tended to even out the overall score which ended up very close with the Rear Commodore Scott Tobin’s team winning, but by only four points. Scott’s team’s win was despite the fact that he seemed to feel that he didn’t need to stay in his boat for any length of time and to see him fall out of the back of his Topper was quite enjoyable and gave the safety boat crew of James Francis and Karen Fitch something to do. Hope Brodie and John Jones in a Feva had a good time racing against Connor Fitch and Jack Rea in another Feva until Hope’s rudder broke and Connor’s foot strap came loose.

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Andy Swain and Richard Paterson also found sailing Toppers is not quite as easy as perhaps they remember since moving up to bigger boats and Andy seemed to spend a serious amount of time swimming.

Once the sailing was over, the competitors were able to warm up in the bar thanks to Kath and Paul Channing who provided some hot snacks as well as hot drinks. What had originally seemed to be a daft idea when first suggested turned out to be a lot of fun for all those taking part and those of us too sensible to stray from the warmth of the club house!

?The club is now planning the forthcoming sailing season and, in particular, arranging sail training at all levels.

If any reader wants to learn to sail then please visit the website at where you will find under ‘contacts’ details of how to get in touch and provide your contact details including name and age and any previous sailing experience and the club officers will let you know what they can offer in this coming year.

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