Updated: Oct 7, 2022
Sponsored by Allen
Solo Midland Area Open Round 11 Notts County Sailing Club
An early start beckoned for Notts County open meeting as its approx. 2 hours from home.
With some wind forecast for a change to hopefully stretch the legs after more than a few rounds in light winds I was certainly looking forward to it.
I always remember Notts County for the blue tinge in the spray, delivered from the hull as hydrodynamic lift kicks in, when there is wind forecast. Okay it isn’t exactly like a clear blue sea and a dolphin swimming beside the boat…..but we are in the Midlands and the blue dye to suppress the weeds is about as close as we can get.
14 boats in total signed up with 9 visitors, a big improvement from last year when it was Martin Honner and I.
I usually get to events early, as I like to get the Allen sponsorship banners and feather flag set up for people to see on arrival, but as this was a joint event with Hadron and Aero it was nice to see the club already busy.
Boat rigged, and after seeing a few friendly faces arriving, it was time for the obligatory breakfast bap. Always a warm welcome at Notts County SC and this year was no exception. After a nice sausage and bacon bap, and coffee of course, there was a bit of time to catch up with friends and maybe a few port and starboard jokes levelled at Martin (after the last event)……mainly coming from Chris Brown who wasn’t going to let Martin forget that one for a while.
A very clear and structured briefing from Race Officer Rebecca Ogden gave all the fleets the required information for what was looking like a great day. Wind, sun and sailing, let’s face it what more could we want at this stage.
Race 1 As the slowest of the three fleets the Solos were starting last, which I thought would give a great opportunity to watch which way would pay up the first beat. Unfortunately after watching both fleets setting off before us that wasn’t the case, where the windward mark was located looked like there was less wind and shifty on approach. We got away first time and all I can say was that a lot was happening throughout the fleet, places changing and the bands of gusts meant the fleet was spreading out and bunching upn on most of the downwind legs. Martin Honner, looking to cement a Midland Area title to go with the Northern Area title he has already secured, was showing his form and lead the way. Jasper Barnham was revelling in the conditions with Nigel Davies and (still) Inland Champion Chris Brown in hot pursuit. Martin held off his close opponents in the first race to secure the first race win followed by Jasper Barnham and Nigel Davies.
The same course meant that the as we approached the windward mark you would have to be ready to tack quickly to play the shifts on approach for maximum benefit.
This time it was Chris Brown rounding the windward mark first, followed by Kev Hall, Jasper Barnham and Nigel Davies.
Very similar boat speeds across the Solo fleet meant that the windward mark was always a little congested on the first lap, before we managed to spread out a little for subsequent laps. The gusts were frequent enough to mean the fleet stayed relatively close together.
Chris Brown managed to stay in front and secure the win from a consistent Jasper Barnham and Martin Honner.
The last race was looking good with what felt like an increasing breeze, or maybe the gusts had a little more bite.
Maybe a little too much for some as after their start one of the Aero 5 sailors capsized and become entangled on the front of the committee boat. Two rescue boats were in close proximity and needed to intervene and help.
The start sequence was such that the preceding fleet start was the next fleets 5 minute signal. This meant a last minute (30 seconds before the start) postponement by the race officer and restart of the sequence while the Aero was removed from the position, next to the committee boat, which everyone was vying for as pole position.
The Aero sailor was safe, and from what I gather no damage was caused to their boat so all was well.
The next start was away clean and normal business followed with very close racing and places swapping on every lap.
This time Nigel Davies hit the front and secured the bullet and a hard fought open meeting win.
As you’ll see from the results the three podium places were all on 4 points, so congratulations to Nigel who got his best Midland Area result of the season and probably one of his most satisfying open meeting wins in what was extremely close racing.
A special mention to Brian Fisher, back sailing his Solo after having a pace maker fitted earlier this year. I hope I’m still sailing a Solo at 84, good to see you back Brian!
Thanks to all the team at Notts County for making the day a great success.
Photos courtesy of David Eberlin