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Solo Western Championships @ Chew Valley Lake Sailing Club

Saturday 3rd June 2023

Chew Valley Sailing Club had laid on a sunny day, the cool wind was a north easterly of approximately 10-14 knots and very shifty. A swarm of eleven Torpoint Mosquitoes (although one is listed as Looe) had again braved the M5 on a Friday. A total of twenty-seven Solos readied themselves for competition along with a fleet of lasers who would hopefully show us which side was paying five minutes before our gun. Courses were four laps - triangle, sausage, triangle, sausage with a short reach to the finish line.

Race 1

The race officer got the boats off to a good clean start with the committee boat seeming to be popular. Shifty conditions with no real favoured side and a lottery as to who got to the windward mark first, but unsurprisingly the usual suspects end up with a winning ticket. Each windward leg offered something different with some boats in the top five losing six places due to the shifts and then all change again on the next leg. After a hard slog rounding the final leeward mark we reached into the finish with Charlie Nunn and Duncan Peace not getting a gun due to being OCS.

Result: Oliver Davenport first followed by Jamie Morgan and Alex Butler.

Race 2

Conditions remained much the same which for some required full hiking, Vernon Perkins later claimed he had been hiking but I think that was just walking round the large boat park trying to find me to ask me to write this. Darren Roach performed the manoeuvre of the day on the final leeward mark, by shutting the door on two others and gybing expertly with the boom rising above the mark and taking out two to nip into sixth.

Result: Oliver Davenport first followed by Jamie Morgan and Alex Butler - I’ve a feeling I have typed that sentence before.

Race 3

The racing continued to feel like there could easily be a ten position swing with every shift. Having spent the first two races on headers and in other peoples dirty air; I finally found a lift and some clear air - resulting in me going to have a look at what goes on near the front of the fleet. Momentarily I was sixth before deciding that eighth was sufficient altitude for me today.

Result: Oliver Davenport first followed by Jamie Morgan and Alex Butler. Again!

Saturday Evening

We enjoyed a Solo sailors supper in the club, kindly subsidised by the Solo Class Association. Nick Fisher transformed himself into barman and somehow managed to convince the Mosquitoes that we all should buy a half price CVSLC beanie. Torpoint definitely won the bar on Saturday night. The evening culminating in the unusual spectacle of Nick managing to cycle his bike at half past ten without falling off.

Sunday 4th June 2023

Wall to wall sunshine again, the wind was still a north easterly 10ish knots with some gusts, plentiful shifts and a scattering of lighter spells and holes. Having found yesterday that my layering had been comfortable on the beats but sweltering on the runs, I left a layer ashore.

Race 4

No lasers racing first today and everyone was keen as mustard on the start line. One general recall and we were off, Roger Gibb and Nigel Appleton later finding out that they were OCS. I found myself out on the left with some of the famous Solo sailors for company and thought I must have made a good choice. Sailing a couple of boat lengths behind Darren Roach in the demo solo I was treated to watching him capsize to windward as the wind switched for a second. I don’t know how he managed to bounce back over the deck and in from his swim, the demo solo kept sailing along apparently unaware that it lacked a helm for a moment - perhaps it is automatic? However we all were treated to the sight of the right paying off, with the Dacron sail of Julian Smith in 4939 steaming into the windward mark first. Next lap there was a big left shift which mixed up the whole fleet again with Vernon Perkins, Charlie Nunn and myself making big gains coming from the left. We claimed sixth, seventh and eighth from that respectively.

Result: Alex Butler claiming a win, Jamie Morgan second and Oliver Davenport in third place.

Race 5

Darren Roach lead to windward having rolled Olly Davenport at the pin end! He then engaged in a gybing duel down the run with Charlie Nunn keeping them both busy. Darren then went for another swim as a result of getting stuck in the kicker on a tack. It was definitely a day for sailors who can play the shifts with Torpoint Mosquito Graham Cranford-Smith making significant progress through the fleet.

Result: Local Chew sailor Chris Goldhawk who had been having a fairly consistent showing so far took the win, with Darren Roach from Torpoint/Looe second and Oliver Davenport in third.

Race 6

Charlie Nunn rounded the windward mark first in race six with Shaun Welsh just behind. Sustained pressure from the Pink Panther and a lapse in concentration from Charlie let Shaun past to round the leeward mark in first. Shaun then hit the front for the next lap putting the woes of Saturday well behind him, sadly I type too soon as his time at the pointy end was curtailed by a capsize and a swim. Meanwhile I had been trying to get past Nick Fisher on the run, he was taking an age to get to the leeward mark so I told him to hurry up. With that he hardened up for the next beat headed out right and scorched into the windward mark in second place, leaving me and Kev Hall wondering why we had both tacked off.

Result: Jamie Morgan finally takes a win, with Alex Butler rounding out an impressive set of results in second and Oliver Davenport in third.

Prize giving

Prize giving was held in hot sunshine on the Chew Valley Terrace. Thanks to the race officer who did a great job and the safety boat crews and galley, CVLSC and the Solo Class Association.

Prizes sponsored by GOAT Marine were awarded to the top five:

  1. Oliver Davenport

  2. Jamie Morgan

  3. Alex Butler

  4. Darren Roach

  5. Chris Goldhawk

A prize draw was held from our generous sponsors Triggernaut and Magic Marine. Sean Biggs is headed back to Cornwall with a pair of lovely Triggernaut sunnies and unusually the same burgee he brought to the event.

Report by Sal Erskine-Furniss

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