Report by Martin Honnor
Photo by Naz Maguire
On Sunday, 18th June 2023 Hollingworth Lake Sailing Club hosted round 4 of the Winder Boats and Impact Marine sponsored Northern Solo Circuit. 18 boats entered for the event which turned out to be one of the shiftiest days many had ever seen at the Littleborough lake. At the 9:30AM registration the wind was blowing 12~15 knots from the East, somewhat double what most of the forecasters were saying and coming directly over the hills opposite the club. On a positive note, the sun was shining, and the temperature was already in the high teens.
A short briefing was held outside the club by Race Officer Les Bithell followed by a careful and sometimes exciting exit from the little harbour at the club, a difficult exit at the best of times, but with an Easterly, a little more fun!
Race 1 saw Les and his team set the line in front of the clubhouse, just yards from the club’s bay window where all the spectators had gathered to watch, and which turned out to be a very interesting first start. The line was port end bias and as one might expect, packed with the ‘want to be winners’ and with 10 seconds to go a number finding they were early and having to gybe round and start behind the fleet. Steve Denison weaved his way through the party at the port end and popped out with a healthy lead at the first mark, a lead he did not lose, going on to win from the front. A group of some 7 boats arrived at the wind mark which made for a choice of which way to go down the first run, 3 locals making it difficult for the visitors to choose, Martin Brennan going left close to the Café, some say he stopped for a brew, Nick Hornsby went straight down the middle and Stuart Bates right. At the leeward mark the Wind Gods had their comedy hats on with the wind doing a full 360 degrees as the boats arrived, Andy Carter, Innes Armstrong and Martin B coming out well. The laps repeated with similar fun at the leeward mark but ultimately the light wind specialist rising to the top, with Andy C taking second and Innes 3rd. Martin B and Martin Honnor made up the top 5.
With a thunderstorm threatened for early afternoon, race officer Les decided that race 2 would be back-2-back and the fleet was ready to go again on the same starting line. Once again, the place to be was at the pin, and again the Winder Boats jockey Denison bossed the start with Armstrong and Honnor hot on his tail. These 3 broke away and for the majority of the race played Snakes & Ladders for the entire race. Fortunately, race officer Les had over-ruled the Wind Gods and had taken ‘F’ mark out of the course which pleased the entire fleet. Denison went on to take a second bullet, and the event, with Honnor second and Innes 3rd, only split by the I/O finishing line by inches. Andy C took 4th and with his local knowledge of the line’s bias, Nigel Davey made the top 5.
Photo by Georgina Denison
Ashore for a BYO lunch, which for Andy Fox and Mr Denison proved to be a non-existent one, their respective better halves Debbie and Georgina having decided to go for a lovely lunch in Littleborough village leaving the boys BYOs locked away in the car, fortunately both Andy and Steve had treated themselves to Bacon/Sausage/eggs/brown sauce large breakfast baps at 10am so struggled through!
On to race 3; at the briefing Innes A had made a very strong point that whoever finished 3rd was to write the report (he actually had a Northern whinge, that he was fed up with writing them, which is a surprise, because we all know it is Justine that actually writes them, Innes just claims the glory!). Race 3; having won the event, and now able to influence the 3rd placer and therefore the writer of the report, Mr Denison declared in the dinghy park he would not team race anyone, I think you can work out who he sat on for most of the race. On a serious note, the race again was well fought and again the party was at the pin end. Both Honnor and Armstrong were too early, again, the former gybing round for 2nd time in the weekend releasing Innes to take onto port. Nick Hornsby, who had made the perfect start put Innes about and went on to round the windward mark first, followed by the usuals, Martin B who had also made a good start was in the bunch. Innes worked on Nick and after the first lap had managed to get past him, going on to take the bullet and 2nd overall. Now only 3rd was in question and who would be the scribe, Andy C and either Martins could be 3rd, although Martin B needed a 2nd and Mr Denison was not going to give that up easily. Race 3 finished with Innes winning, Steve 2nd and Martin H 3rd, giving Steve the well-earned 1st overall, Innes 2nd and your author 3rd.
Big thank you to Les and his team, Hollingworth Lake Sailing Club and the sponsors Winder Boats and Impact Marine.
Left to right; Innes Armstrong 2nd, Steve Denison 1st, Martin Honnor 3rd
Photo by Justine Davenport