Open trophy stays in Sidmouth

This week Sidmouth Sailing Club held its annual Laser Open. This is an event which is open to all competitors from all over the country, as well as local sailors. This year’s even was even part of the SW Laser Gran Prix series- part of a season long Open Championship league, writes James Salter.

Unfortunately the event wasn’t as well subscribed as hoped. Due to admin issues the event didn’t seem to be advertised externally at all. As a result 10 Sidmouth boats competed for the Sidmouth mmLaser Open. A bit disappointing as over 20 club members were involved in putting on the event! Either way the racing went ahead and was fiercely competitive right the way through the fleet.

Race 1 was the held under the lightest conditions of the day, averaging no more than 5-6 knots at any one time. It was enough to race, and up the first beat the fleet were all scrambling to get their position established by the windward mark. At the top end of the course Bob Vine led the way; continuing just as if it was another club race (he’s normally right up there in club racing). Jack Dicks was 2nd around the windward mark, putting his new boat’s performance to the test, closely followed by Connor Fitch. The racing remained tight throughout the first lap with positions changing down both reaches. By the third lap positions looked to be well established with Bob out in front with Jack sailing really well to hold on to second place. The only position changes were then between the last course mark and the finish line. After sailing very well all races Connor was relegated from third to 6th. James Salter, Paul Wilson and Barney Croft all snuck past, all finishing within about a boat length of each other, in the above order.

Race 2, and the forecast winds started to fill in, setting down South Westerly at around 8-10 knots. This meant that conditions stopped favouring only the lighter sailors. With everything happening a little faster now the start was a bit more frantic, not helped by Barney. With less than 10 seconds to go Barney decided to call Starboard on the fleet holding at the committee boat end. Whilst Barney was on Starboard [giving right of way], so was the rest of the fleet. Unfortunately for Barney in this case the ‘Windward boat’ rule trumped his starboard right of way. He found this out when his charge and call of ‘Starboard’ was welcomed with obscenities and ‘you’re not going in there’ [between the committee boat and the racing fleet] from James Salter. As a result Barney had to do penalty turns while the rest of the fleet were clearing the start line. This didn’t seem to do his race any harm, as Barney was leading around the first mark. His lead lasted well over a lap before being over taken by James and Bob on the second upwind leg. After some very low down wind sailing James went on to take the win after two laps, followed by Bob and Barney.

In between Race 2 and 3 the wind kicked up to around 20 Knots under some clouds making handling tricky and it was all shaping up that Race 3 was going to be a screamer. But, with the wind increase half the fleet started to capsize and promptly chickened out and went home. Boring. Just after the start of Race 3 the wind seemed to settle down to 12-15 Knots, very manageable, even for those who went in already. As it happened the race was fairly uneventful, as far as I could tell anyway, but I’m not sure what was going on at the back of the fleet. James Salter led start to finish, seeing off Bob through some tactical upwind covering.

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With 2 races of the 3 race series to count James Salter took the Sidmouth mmLaser Open series win counting two Firsts with Bob Vine in second and Barney in Third overall. Jack Dicks won the junior prize, sailing very well in his new boat, counting a 2nd and 6th.

As always thanks to all involved organising the event and the race team on the day. Also Thanks to Joe Kent for lending me his boat.

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Finally – Club race winners from the rest of the week: Wednesday, Ollie Salter and Heather Martin in the Scorpions, H Thompson in the Lasers, and Saturday; James Salter and Emma Compton in the Scorpions (both races).

Good Sailing.

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