Wartson lands toppers success at Sidmouth

Sidmouth sailing

Sidmouth sailing - Credit: Archant

This week at Sidmouth there was once again a northerly wind and sunshine, again producing gusty and shift conditions, although after weeks of similar conditions the sailors seemed to be acclimatising, writes James Salter.

All through Wednesday daytime it was looking like ideal conditions for sailing, with a fresh northerly. As soon as it was time to race the wind pretty much died leaving a very light northerly flow to bob around in. Straight off the start line there was a range of tactics, a few sailors starting out to sea close-hauled and a few starting on the inside popping the kite straight off the line.

It soon became clear that starting on the outside was favourable, with Miles Hapgood and Steve Smith taking the lead followed closely by Chris Clapp and Jack Rea.

During the upwind leg positions were always going to change with light and fluky winds, James Salter and Hope Brodie snuck into a narrow lead. This is the way it stayed for a few laps with Salter and Brodie seeming to have slightly better boat speed. To counter this Clapp and Rea drew their rivals into a tacking duel down the penultimate upwind leg, and were gaining with every tack!

Salter and Brodie looked to stopped the messing about and settle in to sail the rest of the leg in the lead until they got caught up on a line floating 15-metres away from its buoy, costing them the lead!

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With one lap left there wasn’t much that Clapp and Rea needed to do in order to win the race, just cover their rivals up the final beat.

All this messing about had slowed down the top two boats and allowed third placed Hapgood and Smith to catch up and become contenders themselves, eventually easing past Salter and Brodie to take second place leaving Salter and Brodie having to settle for a third berth finish.

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In the laser fleet Connor Fitch finally stopped playing on his bike by The Ham and turned up sailing and was rewarded with a win. Simon White had his best result of the season coming second, ahead of Scott Tobin. It was good to see a topper fleet out and their race was won by new member Ali Watson.

Saturday’s racing was held in what were near perfect conditions with bright sunshine together with a flat sea and a fresh northerly breeze. The conditions enticed 22 boats into racing, by far the best turn out of the year to date.

Not only were the conditions perfect, but the racing was by far of the highest standard of the year.

It all started off a congested start line, Alex and Amy Hayman getting the pick of the starts. The fleet quickly tore downwind with all six scorpions setting a spinnaker. Unusually, the fleet were still really tightly grouped at the leeward mark with the exception of Chris Clapp and Jack Rea, and Connor Fitch who took a quick dip at the gybe mark! This became the first of what were to be no fewer than 10 capsizes for Fitch!

By the windward Mark James and Hope were now putting pressure on team Hayman, just a boat length behind. Things stayed tight through the next lap, with Salter and Brodie taking a lead up-wind. Both crews flew round the reaches in the stronger gusts. Salter and Brodie began to pull away, helped by a temporary breakage onboard the Haymans boat. The Haymans still finished second, by just over a boat length. Clapp and Rea made it up into third. Bob Vine sailed exceptionally in his laser to take a win in another closely fought race, H Thompson bagged second whilst third went to Barney Croft. The toppers race was won by Karl Webb.

The second race saw more of the same thrilling competition.

The Haymans again had the pick of the starts and this time despite it being a close race there was no catching them. Salter and Brodie had a tight race with Clapp and Rea, with positions swapping all the way round, and it was any small mistake that would cost at least a place.

The racing was fast and close, but Clapp and Rea just managed to hold onto second place by less than a boat length at the finish line after a strong tactical upwind move.

Vine again won the laser fleet, with Barney Croft securing second place.

Andy Swain finished third; this a very good effort considering it was his first sail of the season, had he had a bit of a swim mid-race!

Only three toppers finished race 2 with Ali Watson taking the win.

This weekend Sidmouth hosts its annual Scorpion Open, so no club racing this weekend, but hopefully we’ll have just as good turn out on Wednesday evening again. Thanks as always to the race management team, another excellent course on Saturday which allowed the tight racing. Good Sailing.

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