Nine Scorpions in big Looe event

Folk week at Sidmouth was relatively quiet on the water with nine of the Scorpion fleet down in Looe at the Scorpion National Championships – much more interesting.

As one of the fleet down in Looe, I missed racing on Wednesday, so only have results to offer from that race, but I did make it down on Saturday for racing, straight from Looe onto the water. With the majority of the fleet at Looe, it seems like a good idea to have a brief overview of Sidmouth’s performance at the championships.

In general, the Sidmouth sailors finished up all around the middle of the fleet, mostly with a mixed bag of results. Sidmouth managed to bag four of nine available ‘Flyer of the day’ awards – pretty much awarded for inconsistency; most places gained in consecutive races.

Among the winners were Ollie Salter and Heather Martin, Alex Hayman and James Mursell, Amy Hayman and Sam Gosling, and James Salter and Hope Brodie.

Unsurprisingly, there were too many races and too much going on to note them all, so I think the best thing to do is to cover some of the highlights.

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Highlight 1: Amy and Sam peaked too soon, finishing eighth in the practice race, their best result of the week (39th overall). 2: Ollie and Heather pulled a start out of the bag in race 4, making it round the windward mark in third before losing a few places finishing in the 20s (49th overall). 3: James and Hope finally nailed a start on windy Wednesday making it fifth round the windward mark and flew round the course with Hope screaming, literally, all the way round, before dropping back into the 20s at the finish (44th overall). 4: Miles Hapgood and Steve Smith had a real wet week, prompting Steve to ask the question by the middle of the week “Do your guy’s crews spend more time in the boat or in the water? I think I might just go for a swim tomorrow.”

After spending an awful lot of time upside-down on windy Wednesday, one swimming-related incident even cost them a hole in the centreboard box (66th overall). 5: Alex and James had a cracking last day, climbing 25 places from the windward mark, doing enough to secure first junior combo, first boat aged over 25 years and a daily prize (32nd overall). 6: Kevin Gosling and Max Hayman were the top placed Sidmouth boat (16th) and won first boat over 20 years (despite looking brand new, new decks and new rig). 7: Chris Clapp and northern crew Nicola Ogden picked up a daily prize mug. Don’t know when, possibly Thursday, finishing 25th overall.

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As for the actual Championship, it all came down to the last day, with four possible winners. Dave Wade and Steve Hall of P&B won, despite only getting one race win. John Mursell and Sidmouth-based crew Nick Keast were second, with former Sidmouth Sailor Chris Turner and Ben Reyner finishing third overall, winning the final race (one of four race wins), but other results not going their way enough to win the lot.

All in all a good week - well, when there was some wind about and we weren’t sat on the water for three hours waiting for a start.

Back to the interesting world of Sidmouth sailing, and Wednesday’s race: it could well have been interesting, but I wasn’t there so I don’t know. All I’ve heard are the results and Simon Price was glad I wasn’t there (he won). Three Scorpions started, two finished, Simon Price and Imogen Dinham-Price winning, Nick and Sam Dicks 2nd.

In the Lasers, Dave Martin won, Bob Vine 2nd, Josie Robb third. All helms at the Scorpion Nationals representing Sidmouth to gain average points. Graeme Robb and Connor Fitch went out to race in their Mirror and Topper, respectively, but it was too windy and both retired before the start.

Saturday’s racing was still with a rather small fleet - all the travelling Scorpion sailors, except James Salter, deciding that they’d had enough of sailing for one week.

Even with diminished numbers, it was a real good sail, starting off gusting up to a force 4 from the North West before filling in to be a steady force 4 at the end of the race – rather quick at times.

James Salter and lightweight crew Elisha Salter took the lead right from the start line, accelerating away, with full rake on, from Simon and Imogen. James and Elisha continued to build their lead down wind, letting the rig forward, boat planing and Elisha screaming. Despite Simon and Imogen’s use of the spinnaker, there was no catching James and Elisha, who went on to win by a full lap; with Elisha working very hard all the way round, hiking out and everything resulting in going the fastest she’s ever been on the water. Nick Jennings and Joel (one of this year’s beginners) sailed well to get a third place finish. In the Lasers there seemed to be a lot of capsizing, so much so I didn’t even notice who finished first, if at all. Graeme Robb’s rudder also snapped leaving him more or less stranded after the first race, this in combination with all the Lasers capsizing resulted in the second race being abandoned, and all to return to shore.

All that remains is to thank all involved in the racing, and to wish Alex Hayman good luck in his charity cycle from Lands End to John O’Groats. Also, I’m led to believe that we’re a few short on volunteers for the Laser 2000 nationals in a few weeks, so if you are able to spare a day please contact Keith Brodie.

Good Sailing

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