Closest racing of the year so far

Sailing continued at Sidmouth last week, although it did involve fighting through Morris Men to get to the sea, and down on numbers due to the Scorpion National Championships.

Sailing continued at Sidmouth last week, although it did involve fighting through Morris Men to get to the sea, and down on numbers due to the Scorpion National Championships.

With absences in the Scorpion fleet through Nationals attendance by three Sidmouth boats, and various other excuses, Wednesday's race was dominated by the Laser fleet. The conditions weren't even helping. In fact they were truly horrible; a big lumpy sea and hardly any wind; a lot of slopping about.

With the start line at the Clifton end of the beach and the starboard course set, racing got underway.

In a brief summary of the race, not much fun happened. Chris Clapp won the Lasers just overtaking Dave Martin at the end.

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Simon Price and Imogen Dingham Price won out of the two Scorpions, overtaking James Salter and Steve Hackett whilst they were prawning with the spinnaker on the last lap, topping off a race where everything seemed to go wrong for them.

Fortunately, racing on Saturday made up for Wednesday's disappointments, providing arguably the closest racing of the year so far.

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With the wind sort of from the west, although veering between north west and south west and blowing a force 2 or 3, racing got under way.

It clearly paid off to start on the inside, the starboard starters getting away much cleaner than anyone on the outside on port.

Chris Clapp and Barney had edged into the lead, just in front of James Salter and Laura Mitchell, by the first mark. These two boats pulled away on the first down wind leg, the spinnakers really making a difference.

The racing remained tight all the way round the course, places changing up and down wind. James and Laura just managed to win in front of Chris and Barney, with the pair having to be separated by the race box -definitely the right decision.

It wasn't that much of a clear win on the water at the finish. James, who had gambled on a flyer out to sea, was coming into the finish with speed, and then Chris didn't give them the water round the finish mark, as per the rules, forcing James and Laura into the buoy to avoid collision.

Simon Price and Imogen Dingham Price had a very good finish in third place, showing some real speed this week, seemingly appearing from nowhere.

Steve Hacket took a novice crew out - his girlfriend, who looked scared all the way round - although still managed a fourth place finish, just ahead of Ollie and Elisha Salter.

Bob Vine won the Lasers in a very tight race. Ed Rhodes took second place, managing to get ahead of Bob in the last race, but then got overtaken again. Gerald Woodley finished third, the capsize early on not doing much for his speed.

For the second race, the wind had built, a little more steady force four, still from the westish. The first lap provided the closest racing.

Chris and James tried to hold speed off the start line, sacrificing position. This allowed Steve to get into the lead up the first leg.

The entire fleet seemed to amalgamate at the first gybe mark, causing havoc up the second reach.

Without spinnaker ability, Steve and girlfriend - even if she didn't look approving of the move -pushed the fleet high after the gybe, slowing everyone down.

Racing was really tight all the way down the leg for those who didn't bail out of the competition and go lower down.

The first beat split the fleet. Getting it right, Chris and Barney pulled out a short lead over James and Laura, with Steve racing for third place with Simon and Imogen.

Despite hard, aggressive sailing by James and good spinnaker work by Laura, they couldn't catch Chris and Barney who took the win.

Simon and Imogen once again showed impressive speed to get into third. If they could use the spinnaker, they'd be real competition for some wins.

In the Lasers, Bob led start to finish, pushed closest by Gerald. Ed Rhodes finished third, Andy Swain fourth and Andy Mitchell spent more time swimming than sailing, even after being so happy to be last but not capsized in the first race.

Racing continues next week as normal, hopefully just as tight. Thanks to all of the race officials, especially those who gave me the win on Saturday, and thanks to all those who helped with the folk week cleaning and cooking.

Good Sailing

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