James Salter sails to early season success at Sidmouth

Sailing on the Exe estuary. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 0072-30-12SH To order your copy of this ph

Sailing on the Exe estuary. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 0072-30-12SH To order your copy of this photograph go to www.exmouthjournal.co.uk and click on MyPhotos24. - Credit: Archant

After a rather slow start to the season racing finally got underway at Sidmouth Sailing Club last week, racing in very light winds on Wednesday night, and a gusty Northerly on Saturday afternoon, writes James Salter.

The wind was so light on Wednesday evening it was another marginal evening for sailing, but with the previous week’s racing binned because it was ‘too rough’ it was decided that we’d have a go at drift round Starboard course anyway. When the fleet took to the water there was just enough wind to keep the boats moving, but it was far from thrilling racing. The start was crucial, as there really wasn’t enough wind to share with any other boats, getting into clear air was crucial. Amy Hayman and Jack Rea had the pick of the starts closely followed by James Salter and Connor Fitch. Ollie Salter and Heather Martin also had a cracking start; just they were a minute late. With Amy and Jack just head James and Connor were forced to tack out to sea to try and find clear air soon after the start, splitting the fleet. By the first mark the fleet came back together, Amy and Jack had built a good lead, with James and Connor coming in slightly ahead of Ollie and Heather and Nick Jennings and Scott Tobin. On the downwind legs in the gentle breeze Amy and Jack pulled away and ended up leading start to finish. James and Connor had some tight racing with Ollie and Heather for second place, but when the wind filled in slightly for the last few laps this was enough for James and Connor to overtake and sail off to a clear second place. Ollie and Heather came in third. Bob Vine again won the Lasers!

Thankfully the wind had picked up to be a gusty and shifty northerly. The sea was flat and the wind being anywhere from a force 2 to force 4 and northerly or north easterly added a further challenge for racing. As has been typical of the season so far there was again a lack of enthusiasm around going sailing or not as it was a bit chilly. This lack of enthusiasm resulted in a lack of crews for the double-handed Scorpion fleet and regular Scorpion sailors sailing single handers. With the wind a little fresher than Wednesday the start wasn’t the be-all and end-all, but always very important and a competitive area of the race. Amy and Jack again showed a clear transom off the line, with James Salter in a Laser (thanks Dave) just to windward, and Bob vine just to leeward of the leading Scorpion. The gusty conditions made upwind sailing a welcome challenge for the front boats and a bit of an inconvenience to some of the slower boats! Acing remained close through the first few laps with Amy and Jack leading, followed by James. It was only due to a spinnaker issue on the third lap that James managed to sneak past and into the lead. This was enough of an opening for James to go on and win the race outright and the Laser fleet. Amy and Jack picked up a Scorpion fleet win (2nd overall) and Bob vine came in third overall (2nd Laser fleet). A bit further down the pack Simon Price took a Topper fleet win.

Race 2 was very tight off the start line and the first beat proved very competitive. Bob Vine and James Salter had a really tight battle all the way up the beat, with James just able to squeeze Bob out by the first mark. Needless to say, Amy and Jack had already rounded. The front of the fleet was really closely fought out by Amy and Jack, James and Bob. After some upwind duelling James managed to just about see off the challenge from Bob and turned his attention to Amy and Jack. This time it wasn’t until late on in the race that he was able to catch them with another slight tangle on board the Scorpion of Amy and Jack. James took overall 1st [and Laser fleet 1st], Amy and Jack 1st Scorpion (2nd overall) closely followed by Bob (2nd Laser). A few extra mentions of sailors a little further back; the Topper fleet of Simon Price and Scott Tobin seemed to be having fun out of their regular Scorpion sailing environment, Simon won. Also, Simon Olive seemed to be going fairly well at times sailing the only Fever out, at other times there was some swimming around the Fever noted...

As always thanks to the race team for putting on the race, particularly on Saturday-race officers Alice Rea and Mark Wearing both doing officer of the day duty for me! Also showing an appearance in the race box was the president of the sailing club and his wife with daughter and the commodore. Must have been busy up there. Also thank to Dave for lending me his boat (I didn’t think you’d mind). Racing continues next week, including a planned long-distance race on Bank Holiday Monday.

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