Hayman and Johnson prevail in scorpion racing in strong winds off Sidmouth

Sidmouth Sailing

Sidmouth Sailing - Credit: Archant

A fresh and gusty breeze blew pretty much all last week at Sidmouth Sailing Club leading to some thrilling racing and a lot of sailors turning into swimmers, writes James Salter.

In fact, to such an extent just about the only way to survive the week upright was to not go out at all!

It all started on Wednesday evening in a gusty west-southwesterly, blowing around a Force five plus in the gusts!

When it’s that windy something exciting and news worthy is inevitably going to happen. The race did not disappoint. There was a good turn-out for a breezey race with a bit of a shore dump to complicate launching and landing The start remained clean, with all boats away first time. It was immediately a drag race to the first mark from the start line between James Salter and Hope Broadie in a scorpion and Chris Clapp and Bob Vine in lasers.

Salter and Broadie set their kite in a bid to pull clear, but it wasn’t enough. It took until the upwind leg for the pair to pull away. As the race progressed the wind filled in a touch more, which caused some issues for some of the fleet. Well, most of the fleet. Just going on some post race reports and photographic evidence; Chris Clapp took a swim either upwind or down the run, Simon did rather a lot of swimming around his laser (including a pre-start water temperature test), Richard Patterson inspected the bottom of his mirror (it’s fine, it’s still black), Jack Rea broke his mast in/around capsizing and Joe Kent could probably do with a pair of arm bands for Christmas, despite sailing very commendably in possibly the windiest conditions he’s sailed in so far. I’m not even sure that’s the complete list of the Sidmouth SC swimmers! Back to the racing; James and Hope took a good win, aided by mostly staying upright and also being the only boat to set a spinnaker. Simon Price and his crew were in a close race for second in the scorpion fleet with Nick Jennings and Scott Tobin; I think Nick and Scott just took second. In the Lasers there was a whole load of swimming, but Chris Clapp must of being doing the least, taking the win with Bob Vine in second.

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Over the weekend the sailing club ran one of its RYA beginners/training courses. Unfortunately this time the conditions were not particularly favourable – it was fairly windy all weekend. On Saturday morning a few sailors made it out for a short while before conditions got a bit too windy. Fortunately Sunday was a little better with all the sailors getting out for at least the morning.

With the winds building throughout Saturday morning it was decided to cancel the rest of the beginner’s session, definitely a good idea. With the training postponed for the afternoon there was now scope for regular saturday afternoon racing. Due to the training course, and it being absolutely howling there wasn’t much interest in a race. There were just three brave, hard core scorpions; James Salter and Hope Broadie, Alex Hayman and Dave Johnson, and Nick Dicks and his crew.

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Turns out it was a very fresh out on the course, quickly prompting Nick Dicks to capsize a few times a call it a day – still a good effort to have a go at all in those conditions. This left Salter and Broadie facing Hayman and Johnson in the Man Points Match Racing Championship 2013 (day 1).

Salter and Broadie took a tight lead off the start, which they held through a very quick first lap, but the lead didn’t last much longer than that. On the run the two helms took different lines and met to cross just about on the mark. Salter and Broadie tried to avoid Hayman and Johnson, whilst screaming down wind and it didn’t end well!

No collision, Salter and Broadie did take a swim and lose the lead. Both crews continued racing with Hayman and Johnson now ahead, but they couldn’t bear away at all, instead they got blown over!

Fortunately their recovery was fast and they were further aided when Salter and Broadie picked up a lobster pot a little quickly downwind, causing significant rudder issues.

Race 2 and it was more of the same, still gusting to about 30 knotts, Salter and Broadie taking an early lead. As soon as the crews turned off the wind, down the first reach one of the biggest gusts of the day hit. Both crews took off down wind, flying away just about as fast as the boats go. All well and good until they needed to gybe. Trouble!

Salter and Broadie took on the challenge first, as they were in the lead. It did not go well. Seeing this Hayman decided to granny-tack round (‘weathering round’) safely taking the lead. He did admit post race that if he was in the lead he’d of has a go at gibing, but would almost certainly of swam too! This mistake from Salter and Broadie was enough to hand Hayman and Johnson the lead and, for the remaining three or four laps nothing much changed, both crews flew round the course with Hayman and Johnson taking the win.

As always thanks to all involved in helping with the training over the weekend and the rather busy rescue boat crews for the week. Good Sailing

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