Seldén Solo Southern Area Championship and Tyler Trophy at HISC, 21/22 May 2022.
33 Solos from as far afield as Leigh and Lowton, and Torpoint Mosqito came to Hayling Island SC for the combined Seldén Southern Area and Tyler Trophy event, run alongside our good friends in the Europe fleet.
The forecast suggested a reasonable sea breeze on Saturday with a lighter sea breeze on Sunday. As it happened, the fleets were treated to some classic Hayling Bay conditions on the first day with 3 races sailed in 15-20 knots kicking up a lively chop/swell, depending on your view point. On Sunday, after a couple of hours of postponement 2 further races were in a light 5-8 knot thermal breeze, so a great range of conditions to test the sailors.
As the fleet sailed out to the start on Saturday it looked like we were in for a pleasant 10 knotter, but pretty quickly the breeze started to build and more layers were donned by those who’d had the foresight to consider that conditions might become more challenging. Those who didn’t were reminded that the water is still fairly cool at this time of the year and wind-chill is still a thing, even with modern sailing gear.
Race 1: Rather surprisingly for the Solo fleet the start got away first time without the need for a general recall! Right seemed to be the favoured side of the course (I was on the left!) and “recently new to the fleet” Alexander Alcock led round the windward mark followed by Richard Lovering and Oliver Davenport in close company with Jamie Morgan then Oli Wells and Guy Mayger on their tails. Behind the leaders, a few bold port tackers caused some chaos with various boats getting involved, words exchanged and penalty turns taken. There then ensued a couple of spray filled reaches before another hike-off on the second upwind, before a final run and short reach to the finish. Davenport and Lovering seemed to have a little pace over Alcock downwind and Morgan momentarily took third from Alcock at the second windward mark, but places remained very much the same until the finish, save for Mayger capsizing whilst tacking(!) allowing Simon Petitt through for 5th place and Alex Butler (winner of the Frensham Open) in 6th. Thereafter, an already somewhat tired and damp fleet made its way to the finish line as the wind and waves continued to build.
Before getting to race 2 let’s have a quick word from Alex Alcock. “Having spent my youth sailing Toppers and Lasers prior to transitioning over to some years yacht racing. 5 years of no sailing followed that. I then purchased my Solo (Cecil) after a 10 year break from dinghy racing in January 2021. Making the most of the winter to train, I am now travelling as much as possible prior to attending the nationals.”
Alex (who was actually quite a handy youth Laser sailor, my spies tell me) is racing an 18 year old Winder (FRP) Mk1 with a Seldén D+ and an HD Maxx sail, which is a great testimony to the longevity of a modern Solo.
Race 2: Very much like race 1, with Alcock once again showing the way and leading at the windward before being overhauled by Davenport and Lovering. Petitt hung on for fourth after a long battle with Mayger, who managed to not capsize this time, and HISC local Alec Powell rounding out the top six. This time the beats felt harder and the reaches, runs and gybes were getting more and more interesting, keeping the safety boat crews on their toes.
Race 3: Would you believe it, Alcock, starting towards the committee boat end and flicking onto port towards the right, rounded in the lead again with the inseparable duo close behind. Mayger held a comfortable 4th from Morgan, with Chris Brown making a showing in 6th place. Downwind, Davers and Lovers worked their way passed Alcock, as they do. The die was cast. With the breeze now pushing 20 knots an extra lap had been added to the course and you could almost hear the remainder of the fleet thanking our PRO Ian Swann for the opportunity to sail in such classic conditions, if it wasn’t for their voices being drowned out by their screaming thigh muscles!
Day one done and the fleet returned to shore for some well-deserved R&R, Lovering and Mayger winning the all-important race to the beach by taking the short cut/shallow route over the Bar. The clubhouse scores, unsurprisingly, showed Davenport in first, Lovering second and Alcock sitting in third. Behind the leading three the points were tied between Mayger, Morgan and Petitt, so all to play for on Sunday.
With a planned 11:00 start the sailors arrived bright and early, mostly for a HISC breakfast, expecting to launch at 10:00 but a very light Southerly breeze and a touch of fog in the bay had everyone held ashore whilst things developed. Much talk of temperature, clouds and trying to understand how a sea breeze works took place whilst whiling away the time, though Oli Wells probably made the best use of it by doing for a sleep on the beach in the glorious sunshine. Elsewhere, as the breeze filled in around the harbour, Richie Bailey managed to join in with the regular HISC Sunday morning series (and getting the win!) before the Solos and Europes were released from the beach as 5-8 knots had set in out to sea.
Race 4: The change of conditions brought a new leader to the windward mark in the form of Chris Brown (Inland champion, apparently. Who knew?) rounding alongside Lovering and Alcock/Mayger/Butler close behind. Sensibly, these five straight lined the reaches whilst the fleet behind sailed high, and more distance, allowing the leaders to duke it out over the remaining beat and run. Lovering and Mayger (after they’d stopped laughing at Brown’s Finn’esk pumping style on the reaches… which made absolutely no difference. Keep practicing, Chris!) were neck and neck at the windward mark, but Brown again just managed to sneak in. Butler a full boat length further back watched and anticipated his move. Sure enough, whilst Lovering took the win, Butler wheedled his way downwind to overtake Brown and Mayger right on the line. Light wind ace, Nigel Thomas, joined the party in 5th and Alcock, showing he’s not just a strong wind sailor, came through for 6th.
Race 5: This would prove to be the last race of the event with the 15:00 time limit fast approaching. The breeze eased a shade and started to shift slightly as some clouds moved through. As always, getting a good start and nailing the first shift were paramount and this time it was Paul Bartlett, from Teign Corinthian YC, who got it right. In the slightly faltering breeze Paul sailed a great wire to wire win with Davenport back in the mix, after slipping to 8th in the previous race, bagging second position. Much place changing occurred behind, but at the line the regular names had worked their way towards the front with Brown 3rd, Butler 4th, Mayger 5th and Lovering 6th.
After two very different days racing Davenport took the overall win, two points clear of Lovering with Alcock, Mayger, Butler and Brown making the top six.
Overall results here… http://www.hisc.co.uk/media/15413/solo-om.htm
Huge thanks to HISC for laying on a great couple of days of racing, to event and Southern Series sponsors Seldén for their swag which was duly dished out via the infamous random number generator, and to all the Solo sailors who attended and make the racing so competitive.
Photo credit Peter Hickson and Doug Latta. More can be found here at the HISC gallery…
Report by Guy Mayger