The first event of the Midland series kicked off at Banbury SC on Saturday the 25th March.
With a forecast that put a few sailors off attending, 17kts with 30+kt gusts, a rescheduled Winter Champs meant both days sailing wasn’t the best plan for quality family time and to save marriages.
It was blustery on arrival with white horses streaming towards the club on the easterly shore of the lake. Strained biceps and a bit of collaboration was required to get all the masts in the relevant slots to finish rigging the boats.
With the promise of Lasagne for lunch and the choice of fruit crumble desserts, with crumble practically being the law now at the Banbury event, what could go wrong.
It was nice to see all the usual faces that turn up for the Midland events, and a few new ones too.
13 sailors registered for the event but nine took to the water for the racing, after some deciding it wasn’t for them.
Having only sailed once since last November my enthusiasm was clearly bigger than my recent hours in the boat and it showed. Caught out by one of the 30+kt gusts before we’d even started meant a not so graceful capsize to windward and a not so subtle bend in my M2 mast. Great start!
Race officer and fleet captain Dave Cornish got the first race under way with Jamie Cuxson, joining his first Solo open meeting in his father’s boat, heading to the left who along with Martin Honnor got a nice lift into the mark to go round first and second respectively. The rest of the fleet who took the right hand side of the short beat were in hot pursuit, and with it being one of those days where if you were in the right place at the right time to catch one of the gusts you could easily gain places. Martin and Chris Brown managed to get passed Jamie and tussled down one of the downwind legs planing the whole way leaving the rest of the fleet in their wake. The places were changing regularly and for me the bent mast meant my sail shape on the downwind starboard reaches was nothing short of horrendous. Conversely though on any of the port tack beats it meant I could point about 10 degrees higher than anyone else as it wasn’t so much a mast as a wing! For a rectangular shaped lake running from north to south and a westerly wind it meant the beats were short. Brownie sat on Martin for most of the race before getting past to take the bullet.
The gust were still causing some issues as we waited for all the fleet to finish, with one sailor flip flopping capsizes at the north end of the lake and getting close the eastern shore. Another sailor had capsized at the south end of the lake and was beached on the eastern shore with his sail down preparing to be towed back to the club.
With the safety crews being kept busy, and knowing those sailors would be cold and tired, the decision was to have lunch and come out for two back-to-back, hoping the forecast was correct and the wind would ease a little.
Lunch was amazing as always so a big thank you to Becky Baker and Pat Kuenzler, your crumble made Brownie very happy. With mast a whole lot straighter than it was, thanks Martin and Brownie for the help, we headed out again. The same course was kept and a similar story for race two in terms of changing places in the fleet, except Martin Honner pulled away and wasn’t really challenged for the win. R2 Martin Honner Chris Brown Jamie Cuxson
Race 3 got underway with the wind easing a little, a few people filled their boats with water on the beats while still fighting the strong gusts. I suffered a broken tiller extension so retired in what turned out to be an expensive start to the season! With Martin leading and Brownie in a position where I don’t think he could challenge for the win he came in for an early start at packing his boat away. Jamie Cuxson and Gary Stuart were battling hard for the last podium position keeping each other on their toes right to the finish. R3 Martin Honner Jamie Cuxson Gary Stuart Thanks to all the safety crew, Matt Swannick, Tim Bury, Myles Macdonald, Rob Ward and John Gymer for doing a great job. And to the people who took some photos.
Martin defended his Banbury title so overall results: 1st Martin Honner – Ogston SC 2nd Chris Brown – Draycote Water SC 3rd Jamie Cuxson – Shustoke SC
Spot Prize was awarded to David Lucas, the new Solo fleet captain at Trimpley SC, who sailed his wooden boat in his first Midland Solo open meeting.
Thanks to our main sponsor Allen for the prizes at the event. A mention also to CB Trailer and Cover Store and Jackson Composite Repairs for sponsoring the series.
The Tyler Trophy is next on the Solo calendar at Hayling Island this weekend. The Welsh Champs at Tata Steel on 15th & 16th April and then the Spring Champs at Brightlingsea on 29th & 30th April.
Next for the Midland series is South Staffs open meeting on the 20th May, a great club with some good sailors so I hope to see you there.