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Solo Northern Area Championships - Leigh & Lowton SC

Sponsored by Winder Boats, Impact Marine and NSCA

Report by Innes Armstrong

The Solo Norther Area Champs took place over the weekend of 23rd & 24th September 2023 and was well supported by 28 boats including 20 visitors. The event was held alongside a laser one day open and an Enterprise weekend open.

The PRO went through the briefing advising a six race series was to be sailed with 5 to count, and we’d all be sailing the same course, Lasers first, Ents second and Solos last. With the starting sequence underway in race 1, the Solos, feisty as ever and keen to get away, created a general recall, this was then followed by a postponement as the lasers approached the line and start area and we had to keep clear. So we waited and eventually got underway on the next black flag start, with wind strength about 6 – 8 knots. Up the first beat Innes Armstrong (Burwain SC) and Chris Bunn (Lady YC) started to pull away from the rest of the fleet and battle ensued between the two for the better part of the race, whilst various place changes were taking happening throughout the fleet. Armstrong pulled away to take the win whilst Steve Ede (Ardleigh SC) and Martin Honnor (Ogston SC) squeezed past Bunn to take 2nd and 3rd respectively.

The second race got quickly underway but by then the wind had dropped significantly and under the black flag the solos started with everyone looking for any vane of wind to take advantage of, the fleet was spread out considerably across the lake. S Ede made the most of the light airs and took 1st place from M Honnor and Steve Denison (RYA) in third. We then slowly made our way ashore for lunch, happy not to have to race again in the becalmed conditions.

After lunch two more races were planned. Thankfully the wind had increased but the direction had changed to a more southerly direction with the windward mark nearer to the club house therefore making it tricky to decide which direction to approach the mark. Honnor made the best of decisions to take 1st place ahead of Ede and Andy Carter (LLSC).

With the same course set, race 4 got cleanly underway with A Carter getting a clean start which allowed him to lead the fleet around the 1st mark, followed by a gaggle of boats. Staying in clear air going down wind was super important with many place changes going on throughout the fleet. Denison managed to make his way successfully past Carter, but a close battle between the two continued throughout the race with Denison ultimately claiming the win, Carter 2nd and Honnor 3rd.

So at the end of day 1’s racing there were 4 different race winners, with Steve Ede taking the overnight lead. The fleet came ashore to chew over the days racing and to enjoy a two course-meal laid on courtesy of NSCA and provided by Leigh & Lowton’s Catering Manager – Val. A very sociable evening was spent in the bar watching the Rugby World Cup and enjoying the wonderful hospitality of Leigh & Lowton SC, not to mention the much appreciated free overnight camping on site.

Sunday dawned with strong winds forecasted to build throughout the day. After a hearty breakfast (again FOC care of NSCA) the fleet headed out to the start line for a 10 o’clock start. The wind wasn’t playing ball though and we followed the committee boat around the lake with the wind swinging from South to Southeast. The line was eventually laid and the sequence started. With the windward mark laid under a line of trees and strong gusts coming across the course, good placement on the start-line would prove critical. With Armstrong down at the pin end and most of the fleet grappling for a good committee boat position, which end would pay? As it turned out the pin end was the place to be and it allowed Armstrong to lead at the 1st mark and pull away throughout the race. Plenty of big gusts enabled the whole fleet to enjoy the planing conditions on the long reach down the lake. Armstrong took the win followed by Honnor and Carter. The overnight leader S Ede finishing in 6th, this meant that with consistent results Honnor had won the event with a race to spare.

With one more race to go, the rest of the podium positions were still to be finalised. This time around the pin end was slightly more crowded, but again Armstrong nailed it, closely followed by Honnor. On this tricky beat you certainly needed your head out of the boat to track the gusts, backers and headers. Again, Armstrong lead at the 1st mark but was unable to stretch the lead out this time. A close battle took place throughout the race with Armstrong managing to hold onto the lead and David Winder (Hollingworth Lake SC) finishing 2nd, Honnor coming in 3rd.

With an excellent weekend’s racing under our belts and podium positions decided, Martin Honnor was crowned Northern Area Champion, Innes Armstrong taking 2nd, Steve Ede 3rd and A Carter 4th. 1st Lady went to Justine Davenport (Burwain).

L to R: Andy Carter, Steve Ede, Martin Honnor, Justine Davenport, Innes Armstrong

Photo: Abigail Honnor

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