Surf no problem to Green at Sidmouth

Sidmouth Sailing Club was host to plenty of racing, under classic Sidmouth conditions, writes James Salter.

Sidmouth Sailing Club was host to plenty of racing, under classic Sidmouth conditions - a good south westerly breeze and big rolling sea.

Along with normal club racing on Wednesday and Saturday there was the annual Laser open, so I'll try to keep it fairly concise.

Wednesday's race saw a good turn out of eight Lasers, one Scorpion and one Topper, competing in a strong force three with considerable surf.

The start is particularly important in south westerly conditions as there is always only one fast way around the course - along the shore. Off the line it was tight, with the top four Lasers, Chris Clapp, Bob Vine, David Martin and James Salter all reaching the home buoy within two boat lengths. In reaction to this, and in search of clear air, regular Scorpion sailors Chris Clapp and James Salter tacked out to sea, making the cross at the windward mark all important in terms of the race.

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The upwind cross didn't come until the windward mark with the top four boats arriving almost at the same time. Chris Clapp and Bob Vine got away in first and second place, respectively, creating gaps between each other and the remaining fleet throughout the race.

James managed to overtake at the gybe mark after a mistake from Dave, gybing, seemingly getting in all sorts of trouble and at one point looking like missing the mark altogether! Dave subsequently dropped down the fleet during his penalty turns, finishing in sixth place.

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With the conditions as they were, that was the end of the overtaking excitement, the top three Lasers remaining unchanged.

Nick Jennings and Scott Tobin were the only Scorpions on the water giving them the win by default, but a win's a win and they all count boys! John Jones was the only Topper out, also securing a win for the recent beginner. The only other excitement of the day came when landing, with most boats ending up surfing up the beach.

l Saturday's racing was again a Laser dominated affair, and dubbed the 'pre-worlds' to the Laser open to be held on the following day.

Race one looked promising, a good south westerly breeze on the outside, but it didn't last - to cut to the chase it was dropping all the time the race was on. Again, the first lap and start were all important, most probably deciding results for the race.

James Salter miraculously came off the line with a good start after having some issues (rudder kept falling off when launching, four minute gun going while he was still on the beach).

The line speed allowed James to slide on past Alex Hayman and Bob Vine by the windward mark. To keep it brief, there was no excitement in the race, James led from thereon, despite some pressure from Alex in the final lap, with Chris Clapp finishing third.

In the second race it was same story with different names! Alex took the win after leading start to finish. Chris was second with little challenge to Alex and James pulled into third after overtaking Tom Francis a few laps from the end when Tom couldn't make the windward mark, but James was in the right place to cover. Tom had to gybe back round, then, to make it worse, Bob went past also.

In the overall standing of the unofficial 'pre-worlds' warm up event to the Laser Open, Alex Hayman took the series win with 2.75pts, over James Salter's 3.75pts.

Nick Jennings and Philippa Robb were the only Scorpion out, again getting the default wins for both races. Hopefully, there will be more competition for them next week with the Laser Open now behind us.

l On Sunday, Sidmouth held its Laser open, which was well subscribed with 19 entrants for the three race series.

The racing was held in extremely tricky conditions, blowing around a force five and above with a huge south westerly swell. The first race, well all I knew about it was that it was very wet, with lots of capsizes on the first reach and a broken dagger board. Other than that, the top half of the fleet seemed to manage the conditions alright.

Despite a capsize at the gybe mark, James Green managed a convincing win, with Ali Green finishing in second place.

I saw a little more of the second race, after making it back out after picking up a new dagger board, although it's hard to see what's going on at the front when your upside-down at the back of the fleet! There was even more breeze for the second race, although the sailors seemed more used to the conditions.

Again, James Green took an uncatchable lead from early on. Ali Green couldn't put much pressure on James for the series after, unfortunately, breaking his mast along the top reach!

The final results were as follows: Standard Rig; 1, James Green Beer SC; 2, Ben Cornish Exmouth SC; 3, Sam Matson Exmouth SC. Radial Rig: 1, Mike Kinnear Starcross SC; 2, Chris Jones Sutton Bingham SC. Also sail number 5185, with no entry form or fee would have been third - if you see him send him our way, he owes the sailing club �12!

It only remains to thank all of the race management team for club racing and the open this week, who in the end rightfully gave up on offering help when I kept going swimming!

Thanks also to the galley for providing all the food. Next week club racing continues, hopefully with more of a Scorpion fleet.

Good sailing

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