Competitive racing at Sidmouth

Another full week of sailing was undertaken off Sidmouth last week.

Another full week of sailing was undertaken off Sidmouth last week with club racing on Wednesday and Saturday, the annual Topper Open on Sunday and the third beginners' evening on Tuesday.The sailing week started with club racing on Wednesday, held on lumpy seas with a light to moderate, roughly South Westerly, breeze. With 14 boats getting out on the water the start line was fairly congested. The line favoured a port start, with only Chris Clapp and Nick Benson, Ollie Salter and Sally Stephens, James Salter and John Nicole (just making the start after some rigging issues) making a tactical starboard start. The first upwind leg set the scene for the rest of the race, tricky conditions in the veering wind and lumpy sea. As usual most positions were sorted on the first leg with Chris and Nick getting away cleanest to round the windward mark in the lead with Mike Holmes and Jayne Clancy in hot pursuit. By the end of the first lap, Chris and Nick were still fairly closely followed by Mike and Jayne with a reasonable gap to Ollie and Sally. These top three positions didn't change throughout the race, Chris and Nick managing to hold off the threat of Mike and Jayne after a few laps of close racing. There was a little bit of overtaking action between James and John, Nick Jennings and Scott Tobin, Simon Price and Laura Mitchell for places four to six. For around a lap Nick and Scott looked good for fourth, until their spinnaker got stuck half up, half down, causing them to go way off course. This let through James and John, who were having one disaster after another with all sorts of things breaking, getting tangled or coming undone onboard their boat, and Simon and Laura, who seemed to think they could have fourth place - but that result was never in any doubt. In the Laser fleet, it was a relatively easy win for Tom Francis - when I asked him for the other positions in the fleet he said didn't know, he'd won by over a leg! Fair enough. Bob Vine had finished second, with Paul Wilson in third, Paul Kennedy in fourth and H Thompson in fifth (a slightly less predictable turn of events). In the Mirror fleet, Richard Patterson and John Jones couldn't fail to win, being the only Mirror out there, but they sailed well nonetheless. There was also club racing on Saturday, unfortunately that's about as much as I know about it, not being in attendance due to other engagements involving Oasis and the Millennium Stadium keeping me away from racing. Another absentee was Alex Hayman who was representing Sidmouth at the Castle Cove Scorpion Open. Sidmouth held its annual Topper Open on Sunday, this year with a good turnout of 25 boats with the majority of visiting craft. The open comprised of a four fairly short races. Conditions were good for spectating and fishing, but not so good for sailing, being sunny with a light breeze slightly building throughout the day. Unfortunately, Topper racing is very slow, especially in light winds and, unless at the gybe mark, the fishing wasn't even that special. Robby Robinson from Plymouth SC won overall, taking all four races by a distance, sailing genuinely well throughout the series. First Sidmouth boat, the prize everybody wants to really win, went to Alice Rea.Tuesday was the third in the series of beginners evenings, this week a little more wind made it easier to sail. All of the beginners managed to complete a triangle including tacking and gibing. So well done to all of them. Thanks once again to all of the race management team, rescue boat crews, for the racing and everyone who helped at the Toppers, including galley staff and especially to all involved in the Tuesday night training, much appreciated. Next week it's back to club racing and the fourth beginners' evening.Good Sailing.

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