Solo Northern Series event sponsored by Winder Boats
Report by Martin Honnor / Photos by John Mensforth
Seven visitors joined the 5 local Solos at the picturesque NE Derbyshire club Ogston Sailing Club for the 7th round of the Northern Circuit on the 11th June. A few riders gathered on the Friday night for beer and pizza washed down with a few light beers at the club bar later.
The Saturday morning dawned to a beautiful sunny day with what looked like a reasonable 10 knots SW blowing at the north end of the lake, however, following breakfast, the sailors were invited to walk to the control tower to view the SW end of the lake, which very quickly revealed the white horses and large dark grey smears on the lake, today was going to be anything but a ‘nice force 1~2 sunny’ regatta. A quick check of XCW confirmed the 18~20 knots gusting 26~30 from the WSW….!
Principle Race Officer Byron Knott was out early to purvey the scene around the corner and came back explaining to the fleet he had set a lovely long first beat the entire length of the lake with a good downwind blast and a number of gybes in it just to keep things interesting.
Race 1 got off with a clean start, and with the 20 knots showing itself, Ian Hopwood was in his element like that of the ‘proverbial in his sty’, leading at the first mark by a good margin. Kevan Ramsdale, local and first-timer to the solo had tacked out to the right and had smoked his way in and was second at the first mark, a fate surprising even him. Unfortunately for another local boy Simon Law, he had forgotten to put his rudder pin in and was the first faller while lying 4th place, more from Simon later. A bunch soon followed which made the first run and great spectacle for the spectators in the rescue boats. With big gust and obscene wind shifts at times, the race was a game of snakes and ladder throughout, with the lead changing numerous time, Innes Armstrong, Steve Denison and James Morley all having a try at leading, however, it was the heavy weather guru Ian who took the first place finally, followed by Steve Denison, who had been 3rd for most of the last lap, but had sneaked in with an overlap on Martin Honnor at the gybe mark, pushing Martin to a 3rd place. The fleet returned to the club for a welcome break and an excellent lunch and light refreshments.
Over lunch PRO Byron Knott polled the fleet as to whether it was going to be 2 races back-to-back or a break between, it was agreed to go with 2 races back-to-back, the worry, nay fear, was written on many faces.
Race 2 saw an alteration to the course, shortening the beat a little which was a welcome sight for many of the fleet. Again, most of the fleet got away with a clean start although one or two were a couple of seconds early and were off for a trip round the ends. First to the windward mark was again Mr Hopwood, showing his heavy weather prowess, followed by Martin and Andy Carter, Andy had already had his discard, having been forced to retire in race 1 after breaking his gooseneck, always better to put it in the right hole Andy! Martin having prepared a lovely plate of spaghetti around his ankles was unable to bear away at the top mark and sped off at speed in completely the wrong direction, Andy taking full advantage. Next round were the pairing of Chris Gillard and Innes Armstrong, and after a small Port & Starboard incident, Innes was spinning. Again, the race was a game of Cat & Mouse, with the exception of Hopwood, he had done the horizon job and was securing the event. Having pulled back through the fleet Denison & Honnor were on the chase, reeling in Andy yard by meter with Martin securing a close fought second, Andy an even closer 3rd from Steve in 4th. Video evidence from the PRO showed Andy had beaten Steve by a short nose!! The bumpers Chris and Innes made up the 6 places.
Race 3, Hopwood had already won and was giggling like a child away at the pin end while Steve, Andy, Martin and Innes were vying for pole position at the committee boat end, Steve coming out the victor followed closely by Innes and Andy, meanwhile Honnor was flapping around at the back with Hopwood. This race proved to be a critical one for some, and for Simon Law, the best 18th hole he has ever played. Denison had led from the second lap with Andy Carter in second and so it remained until the last 2 legs. The Scene – Denison takes the gun & 2nd overall, meanwhile Andy, Chris Gillard, Martin and Simon are sitting atop a 30 Knotter coming into the gybe mark, Andy tacks round, good call Andy, and it looks like he has a 2nd place. Gillard wants a second, he gybes, splash, Honnor needs a second to beat Andy overall, gybes, splash. Simon puts away the Driver and plays a shorter Iron and tacks round slotting him into 3rd with the biggest smile you can imaging as he planes past Chris and Martin doing a little bit of synchronized swimming. All over you think, not at all, Andy has one tack to the finish and yes you guessed it, joined the swimmers, promoting Simon to a well-deserved 2nd place after forgetting his pin in race 1.
Overall finishing positions were Ian Hopwood 1st, Steve Denison 2nd and Martin Honnor 3rd. Top Lady was Justine Davenport.
Ian thanked Ogston sailing club for hosting the event and the sponsors Winder Boats.