Sponsored by Allen
Review by Olly Saunders
The morning of Sunday 9th July 2023 saw Shustoke Reservoir doing its best impression of glass across the pool as visitors arrived to contest the annual Shustoke SC Solo Open meeting part of the Midlands Series, sponsored by Allen. The forecast didn’t look too much better either, so it must have been the smell of bacon rolls from the clubhouse that helped attract eleven visitors to add to the 16 home boats, very generously cooked by Harvey and Daniel Rose.
The wind God’s obviously looked down and saw the disappointed faces of 27 Solo sailors and the flat calm in front of them, and at about 10.30, in time for the briefing a south westerly filled in and the race officer John Dransfield set a course that gave us all a tour of most of the pool.
Race 1 got away first time and it was Jamie Cuxson from the home club that was first around the windward mark with Neil Wilkinson chasing him down. Jamie extended a good lead throughout the race but was reeled in by Neil on the last lap. Throughout the fleet , the effects of ‘shifty Shustoke’ were felt by all. It wasn’t uncommon to win or lose 5 places on a short beat towards the clubhouse with the shifts posing problems for many. Neil getting past Jamie on a downwind leg looked to have it in the bag, until a navigational error saw him go towards the wrong mark. Jamie not one to miss such an opportunity, capitalised on this and took the bullet, followed closely by Stuart Hydon and Ian Ingram.
Race 2 got underway, this time with an individual recall, and from the start it was Stuart Hydon who led the fleet around the same course as Race 1 to take the race win and throw his hat in the ring for this years title. Big shifts continued and unfortunately due to an issue on my ship, I didn’t see much of this race. But with Stuart Hydon taking the win and Simon Maskell second, it was Oli Wells completing the podium. Just in time for lunch and some well earned hydration.
The preceding two races providing such a mixed bag of results, the meeting was wide open for the third and final race. Two different race winners and Simon Maskell with a fourth and second meant that there were no certainties. Race 3 got underway, Oli Wells tacking onto port earlier and clearing the fleet saw him around the windward mark first and then establish a healthy lead from Simon Maskell, Alan Bishop and Steven Bishop. On a day that was later described as more Astronauts & Skydivers than Snakes & Ladders, race 3 was far from over. Simon M managed to pass Oli W upwind and then develop a good lead which from the shore looked unbeatable but it was another shifty upwind that put paid to that lead with Oli getting passed Simon again and the chasing pack getting ever closer. On the penultimate lap, father and son duo Alan and Steven Bishop got their way to the front which they held for the rest of the race but never with any real certainty based on what had happened earlier on in the race. With Simon Maskell in 3rd, race 1 winner Jamie Cuxson clawing his way through to 4th and Oli Wells in 5th, the overall results were going to be close.
In much the same vain as the close racing at the front, there was great racing to be had throughout the fleet and a great advertisement for the Solo class.
Overall: 1st Stuart Hydon 2nd Jamie Cuxson 3rd Simon Maskell
Also in the prizes was Harvey Rose who won a spot prize from the sponsors, Allen. This was Harvey’s first open meeting, first time sailing a solo and he completed all three races, as well as being in the kitchen from 8am to cook breakfast for the competitors and prepare lunch! Very well deserved! Shustoke SC would like to thank all the visitors for making the event a great day for all. Hope to see you all next year!