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Girton Solo Midland Area Open – 14th May 2022

The forecast for the 14th May was between SW 1-3kts and SW 5-7kts which, and I must admit that based on the good wind strengths the day before and the good wind strengths predicted for the day after it was a bit disappointing.

It was first Solo open meeting Girton SC have hosted so I was apprehensive and intrigued as to how it would go during the journey to Lincolnshire. Temperature wise a very warm day was forecast so sunscreen and sunnies were the order of the day.

On arriving at Girton SC I was pleasantly surprised at the space afforded for parking and rigging the boat.

The wind condition wasn’t living up to the forecast but there was a part of me that was hoping, as it was still early, the wind would pick up. However I knew I was probably just fooling myself, but one can hope :)

My next thought was that if not many travellers turned up, and we were all in agreement, we could call it off and go home.

That thought was certainly dismissed when I saw the caliber of sailors that had started to arrive and the wind picking up.

Alan Bishop, local Girton sailor, Steve Bishop, Chris Gillard, Andy Bayliss, Simon Maskell to name a few. The forecast did clearly put some off attending, clashes with other events didn’t help either….which we must all try to address next year.

As we were rigging the conversation turned to the ‘pimped and personalised’ Solos which were now starting to increase in number within the Solo fleet with Chris Gillard and Simon Maskell sporting new personalised ships. Chris, who has served his time as Northern Area rep for many years, arrived with 6041 in the same livery as Tom Gillard’s boat.

Simon Maskell arrived with another newly produced steed from the Winder stable, in a colour that was described in a number of different ways. Terrific Turquoise being one of the descriptions I heard and I have to admit it may not have been my first choice of colour but it looked stunning! *Sorry Simon I can’t remember the actual colour you said it was….Azure or Aqua Blue maybe?

The wind did pick up a little and there seemed to be little doubt we were going sailing. I was trying to work out the layout of the lake and buoys and I have to admit I was a little bemused at first. For those that haven’t visited Girton SC the lake has islands and bays with buoys in places which meant it would be tricky and strategic to say the least.

After a short briefing where the PRO Sam Mason explained the layout of the buoys on the water we headed out. I still wasn’t sure at that point if we were going to be able to get a race started such was the wind condition.

Race 1 was reaching start as the wind was swinging from left to right every few minutes. The 11 boat fleet utilised the entire length of the line gambling on where they thought the wind could or would fill in first. Local sailor, and light wind specialist, Alan Bishop took an early lead being challenged for most of the race by Andy Bayliss from Hykeham SC. Snakes and ladders ensued in the fleet behind with winners and losers on pretty much every leg. Alan Bishop set his stall out early using his local knowledge to great effect to take the win from Andy Bayliss in second and yours truly in third.

During lunch, in glorious sunshine, we watched the wind increase in strength to the point where a few jokingly asked what we were still doing onshore as that could be the best wind of the day. Race 2 started much the same as the previous until one minute after the start where it turned into a beat, then back to a reach, then a run, then a beat again….so concentration (and more than just a bit of luck) was needed to spot where the wind was coming from or where it would pop up next. I managed to get round the first mark ahead of Alan Bishop and a threatening chasing pack of Simon Maskell, Chris Gillard and Andy Bayliss. It was a case of who got the patches of breeze at the right time and the first 5 changed places regularly until I spotted some wind filling in on the right side of the beat and managed to reach it first. This meant I was able to pull out a bit of lead on the chasing pack on the last lap meaning I took the win from Simon Maskell second, having a good last beat, and Andy Bayliss in third.

So going into the last race of the day it was all to play for with any of the top 4 being able to win the event. Race 3 started as a reach again and as before Alan Bishop was the first to round, closely followed by Chris Gillard and Andy Bayliss. After one lap the front pack were opening up a gap from the rest of the fleet, who seemed to get stuck and park themselves at one mark on the course for some time. I took a chance on the last beat and sailed close to the left hand shore and I got a nice lift which meant I started to take boat lengths out of Chris and Andy’s positions. Another big wind shift and I tacked again, I couldn’t believe my luck at that point as it meant I was able to keep the lifted heading, and boat speed, to cross both Chris and Andy as they made their way over from the right. Alan Bishop stayed of of trouble and made no mistakes to take the win, I was second and Andy Bayliss third. Overall standings: 1st – Alan Bishop – Girton SC 2nd – Kev Hall – Northampton SC 3rd – Andy Bayliss – Hykeham SC First wooden boat – Paul Jago

Thanks to all the team at Girton SC for putting on the event, and the sponsor Allen for providing the prizes.

See you at South Staffs on the 21st May Let’s go SAILING!

Kev Hall

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