Scorpion helms enjoy open event at Sidmouth

Sidmouth Sailing Club hosted a three day open meeting for the high performance dinghy sailing craft - the Scorpion, writes John Keast.

While many were watching the weather forecast with street parties in mind as part of the Royal Wedding celebrations, the sailing fraternity take a keen interest in the weather, always on the hope for favourable winds. The forecast for last weekend was predicting strong easterly winds. Easterly winds are difficult at Sidmouth in that they can make launching conditions difficult, and when the wind is in the east it tends to be very shifty.

Two races were scheduled for Saturday and, as forecast, the wind was in the east. However, the sea state was flat and, with the sun shining, things were looking good for a fine afternoon of sailing.

Twenty three boats launched of which 16 were visitors, they sailed out a mile or so to the starting area and, by the time the first race was under way, the wind had dropped from a fresh breeze to just 5-8mph. These lighter conditions suited Catherine Putt and Simon Maguire from Lymington who won the first race and were second in the second race. The second race was won by AJ Eaton and Mike Hannan from Burghfield Sailing Club, a great performance as this was the helms first appearance for a couple of years and their weight makes them better suited to a stronger breeze.

Alex Hayman was the best performing Sidmouth boat on day one finishing eighth in both races, though Kevin Gosling found his feet in the second race (fourth) after a difficult first race (12th).

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The competitors completed the second race to the sound of thunder inland with some very dark and menacing clouds, which dumped a lot of rain in Honiton and Ottery, but none in sunny Sidmouth.

On Sunday, four races were scheduled, with a lunch break after two races.

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However, the weather forecast seemed to be doing what was predicted with a fresh breeze of 15-20 mph and, with the possibility of the sea state becoming rough competitors, were sent out to do all four races without a break. The stronger winds suited old timers John Mursell with Nick Keast (Sidmouth) who won all four races and managed to pull out a convincing lead in each race.

There was also consistency in second place with AJ Eaton finishing second in all four races. Kevin Gosling, the first Sidmouth helm, sailed well for a couple of seventh places. The wind increased during the final race on Sunday which meant shortening the race with only 11 out of the 23 boats finishing, but all got ashore safely. It was a great day's sailing for all, with difficult and tactical beats and fast and exciting reaches.

Sidmouth crew Connor Fitch who is only 15 and a relative newcomer gained some valuable sailing time crewing for the experienced Peter Rose (Chew Valley) on Saturday helping Peter to a third place in both races.

On Sunday, Connor crewed for Nick Jennings (Sidmouth) and, other than Kevin Gosling, were the only other Sidmouth boat to complete all four races finishing 14th overall, just two places behind Kevin Gosling in the best placed Sidmouth boat. James Salter and Max Sayer (Sidmouth 19th overall) should have relished in the windy conditions, but they struggled to blow away their winter cobwebs and were looking more than a little rusty, having not sailed together for a few seasons. Normally it is reported how well James has sailed, but that's because he usually writes the report and uses his editorial licence to the extreme!

On Monday, conditions had taken a turn for the worse. With very strong winds and a big sea running it was decided to that there would be no sailing. This did not seem to disappoint the majority of the competitors, who were still very tired from the previous day's sailing and from a late night following a hog roast at the club. The overall winner was AJ Eaton and Mike Hannan.

Thanks to all Club members who helped both on and off the water to help make the event the success it was.

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