Jones marks return to sailing with toppers triumph

Lasers, Scorpions, a Topper and a Feva mix it up-evening sailing off Sidmouth this week. Photo by Si

Lasers, Scorpions, a Topper and a Feva mix it up-evening sailing off Sidmouth this week. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shsp 2301-26-13SH To order your copy of this photograph go to and click on Photo Orders. - Credit: Archant

More light winds or strong northerlies plagued Sidmouth Sailing Club again last week, writes James Salter.

There was one thing though the conditions made for easier launching!

Wednesday night saw ridiculously light winds making it a tricky decision whether to even sail or not.

There was just about enough enthusiasm to run a race, this despite everyone knowing it was going to be a rather dull affair, possibly even a waste of time.

The race started in the remains of a weak south-easterly sea breeze, technically just about enough wind to sail in.

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The start line was congested with a lot of slow moving boats, this further complicated by Miles Hapgood and Steve Smith, along with James Salter and Imogen Price trying to squeeze in on port (with no right of way)!

Hapgood and Smith had to accelerate too early to avoid other boats, pushing the well over the line. Salter and Price then couldn’t see the line so pushed on too, ending up also over the line. As the fleet set off Hapgood and Smith went back to start again (required if a boat is over the line), but Salter and Price carried on, unsure if they were over or not.

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Apparently they were over, but after starting with the rest of the fleet they had even further to go back to re-cross the line, straight back to last place. During the first few laps Ollie Salter and Heather Martin pulled out quite a lead, which looked like it would be decisive and the wind completely died.

Thankfully, after a long and very slow lap the wind started to full in – but from the opposite direction, a land breeze.

The wind was most definitely welcome, but it didn’t do much to alter results. Hapgood and Smith pushed Salter and Martin all the way but the later pairing held them at bay whilst, despite their starting woes, the Salter and Price combination sailed into third place. Bob Vine won the Lasers in an even less eventful race.

Saturday was a bit more favourable for sailing, a fresh and gusty north/north-westerly breeze, sunny and flat calm.

As always the flat sea proved deceptively enticing – it was windier than it looked which did cause some issues for a few of the younger sailors, particularly Elisha Salter and Elle Gosling.

The good conditions had tempted seven scorpions out, the best of the year so far, and they were much happier in the wind.

Chris Clapp and Jake Rea got their usual good start and took an early lead downwind with the rest of the fleet bearing down on them. It was all a bit tight between all of the fleet for the first lap and it wasn’t until the second upwind leg that James Salter and Hope Brodie were able to overcome Clapp and Rea.

From here they managed to pull out a lead with some quick downwind sailing, showing their experience through the gybes. Clapp and Rea appeared to have some sort of issue with their spinnaker, which ultimately tipped them in, allowing Ollie Salter with novice crew Karl Webb and Amy Hayman with novice crew Andy to sail past them!

Salter and Webb displayed some fine upwind sailing to take first place.

In the second race Clapp and Rea again started well, and in the first few laps the seven strong scorpion fleet were all in competition for the lead.

With the leading boat well clear James Salter and Hope Brodie sat second until calamity struck on the penultimate lap when Salter’s toe strap snapped which put him into the water - commonly known as ‘doing a Joey’ to some of the more established club members, much to the amusement of the rest of the fleet!

The boat then blew over with just Brodie in it! Fortunately they righted the boat quickly only conceding one place!

With a boat full of water the pair slipped further down the fleet .

No such drama for Hayman and her novice crew as they took second with Ollie Salter and Karl Webb taking third.

The Laser fleet was a little lighter on the ground than normal with only Barney Croft and Steve Chipperfield racing. Croft took the win in both races making the most of the breezy conditions. John Jones also made a return to sailing, taking the win in both topper races.

It was good to see some of the new club members from recent training courses starting to get involved in racing, hopefully this will continue for club racing next week and into the season. As always thanks to all the race management team etc, reaches were just about right in a variable wind on Saturday. This weekend club racing continues along with a Friday evening taster session for beginners – help from club members is always welcome.

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