Short course clash

SAILING - A settled week of weather brought about some lighter racing winds last Wednesday and Saturday off Sidmouth. The light to moderate breeze blew from the South East on Wednesday evening writes James Salter.

A settled week of weather brought about some lighter racing winds last Wednesday and Saturday off Sidmouth.The light to moderate breeze blew from the South East on Wednesday evening. With the port course set and race management on the water, racing got under way, although not quite as cleanly as it could have. A short start line caused a near pile-up at the pin end thanks to a certain Laser squeezing in without right of way. By the time the fleet made it to the first mark, it was still tight at the front. As the first few laps progressed it looked as if the race could be a dull one, no position changes and no real change in gaps, the action being on the third lap when Alex Hayman and Tom Francis had spinnaker trouble which put them right to the back of the fleet, forcing retirement. Further on in the third lap James Salter and Hope Brodie just managed to edge out Ollie Salter and Heather Martin up wind to take second, making the race much more interesting. Unfortunately no one told Chris Clapp and Barney about the close racing plan, and they won by almost a leg. A minor problem with a fourth to second comeback is that it requires concentration, and for that reason I have no idea what the results were in the other fleets!There was less wind come Saturday, maybe pushing towards the top end of a force 2 from the west. The first race was held on a fairly big course, getting starting and upwind tactics right making a difference. James and Elisha Salter were just in the lead after the first lap - narrowly in front of Ollie Salter and Heather Martin, before the race's only real event - an untimely capsize by James and Elisha. Following spinnaker trouble, James thought he'd be able to sort it with a quick trip to the bow, probably not his best idea of the day, but it didn't end as intended. The boat went over with novice crew Elisha left at the helm, not really a wise move either, all or nothing did seem to end in nothing. With the boat back upright, the crew jumped ship to the rescue boat, leaving James on his own.The rest of the race was not all that eventful. Ollie and Heather went on to win, James miraculously got back into second from a long way back, closely followed by Hugh Sutherland and Josie Robb. Bob Vine won the Lasers.For the second race the course was dramatically shortened, probably the shortest course I've ever seen. It led to some really close racing between the fleets. From the start there was nearly contact all over the first mark, with the best starters almost colliding first, followed by the second group nearly crashing shortly after. The course made the race all about boat handling, speed maintenance through tacks and gybes and making no mistakes. James and changed crew Heather took an early lead over Ollie and Elisha, closely followed by Bob in the Laser. With laps lasting between four and six minutes, lapping was occurring early, causing much confusion for almost everyone. James and Heather managed to take the overall win and Bob Vine put up a really good fight, getting second overall and first Laser. Thanks to all the race management team, rescue boat crews and all involved with the races this week. With more wind forecast for next week there should be some exciting racing to report.Good Sailing

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