Updated: Oct 17
Report by Innes Armstrong
Sponsored by Winder Boats and Impact Marine
Race 3 Start
Photo by John Burns
Four Seasons in one day...
The final round of the Solo Northern Series, sponsored by Winder Boats and Impact Marine, took place in the tranquil scenery of Lake Windermere hosted by Royal Windermere Yacht Club. The event was jointly held with the GP14s. 19 Solos entered, 6 home boats joined by 13 visitors from across the Northern area; from Bassenthwaite SC and Derwent Reservoir SC in the North to Ogston SC and Shropshire SC in the South).
Before racing commenced a briefing took place on the veranda of the club, where the POR outlined the basics of the day... 3 races to be held, all back to back, using windward leeward or sausage triangle courses as he saw fit. The sun was out and there was a decent breeze from a good direction - it looked like it was going to be champagne sailing in the North Lake, but you should never be fooled, this is the Lake District where four seasons in one day is not at all unusual! We all ventured out knowing full well it would be a tiring day and perhaps a cold one.
The line was set for the first race, but just minutes before the starting sequence was due, black clouds rolled over the western hills pushed in by 20 mph gusts and accompanied by freezing cold rain, so much for feeling the warmth of the sun on our neoprene, the feeling was more like that of being sat in a blast chiller in the rain! However, as quickly as the squall had appeared, it disappeared again, thank goodness. Leaving us with the sun and blue skies but with considerably less wind.
So to race 1, the pin end looked favourite but was deserted except for Armstrong & Richardson, with the rest of the fleet making slow progress up to the line on starboard. Armstrong and Richardson started on port and made their way up the first beat, the wind had switched slightly, with one tack it was possible to make the windward mark. Halfway up the beat the wind switched off completely, leaving the fleet hoping for the little zephyrs that were around, to blow their way. One to benefit was Denison who managed to sneak through first to the first mark and was never seen again, going on the take the win. Andy Carter also took advantage of a lucky zephyr and gained clear wind on the downwind leg coming in second with Stuart Norris in third... the remainder of the fleet bemoaning their bad luck!
Steve Denison Race 1 (& a GP)
Photo by John Burns
Race 2 and the wind had picked up slightly, this time there was a queue for who would win the best pin-end position. Armstrong and Honnor miss-timed the start and had to re-round the pin, whilst Denison had already gybed round, knowing he was too early, and hence made the perfect start. Again, the beat was a tad one-sided so trying to find clear air was difficult, especially with the GPs starting in front. Up the beat, Denison pulled away with Honnor gradually catching up. These two pulled away with Denison matching Honnor tack for tack and gybe for gybe. In third for much of the race was Justine Davenport, but at the penultimate mark the wind disappeared allowing a gathering of boats, including the GP tailenders, allowing Stuart Norris to sail around the outside of the raft with two other Solos. By the end of the race it was Denison, Honnor and Norris filling the top three places. With two wins under his belt, Denison had won the event, but the rest of the positions were all to play for.
We were treated to another squall in-between races, again cold and unpleasant, but thankfully short lived, although this time, as the clouds retreated, left behind was a stronger, steadier breeze. The PRO took his time to set up again as he waited to be certain the conditions had settled.
Race 3, the wind had strengthened and the line was set - this time around it would be a sausage triangle course, instead of the windward leeward course in the previous two races. The committee boat end was favourite with Honnor, Armstrong and Davenport making good starts. Up the first beat it was good to stretch the legs for the first time that afternoon. At the first mark, Armstrong, Honnor and Restall were 1st round. Then confusion struck... was it triangle sausage or sausage triangle?!? The fleet weren't sure and Solos hedged their bets on the downwind leg... who to follow? Then Stephen Restall called out, it's definitely Sausage 1st - he'd taken the SI's out in the boat, but only those in earshot knew this. By this stage Honnor and one other had done the reach of the triangle first, whist everyone else followed Restall on the correct course, hence Restall was first round followed by Armstrong and Denison. Up the next beat Armstrong played the shifts best and led at the windward mark from Carter and Tony King. On the reaches Armstrong pulled away further and was never headed. At the final gun it was Armstrong, Carter and King in that order.
The best consistency of the day was shown by Denison in 1st with two bullets and Carter in second with two seconds, beyond that there was much fluctuation throughout the table, Armstrong managing to come in third overall with 5 points.
After the racing there was a rush to get in out of the cold (despite the sun it had felt bitter all day) and also to get wrapped up quickly to be home in time for the Rugby. But not before the prize giving for the RWYC Open and for the Northern Traveller Series 2023. There was wine to be awarded from RWYC and there were prizes from Winder Boats; a rigid tie down strap, T-shirts and hats, and from Impact Marine; a mast bag, a rudder bag, a halyard bag to name a few, along with series T-shirts and Solo mugs sponsored by NSCA.
Steve Denison thanked RWYC and all involved for an excellent event and Martin Honnor spoke as Northern Series Champion, thanking all competitors, hosting clubs and our sponsors Winder Boats and Impact Marine for making an 2023 a successful year!
L to R: Andy Carter 2nd, Steve Denison 1st, Innes Armstrong 3rd
Photo by Justine Davenport