After a slight delay in getting the report....thanks to Paul Bottomley for the review.
I awoke to a bright beam of sunshine, making its way through the curtains like a warm blanket, although slightly hung over from the night before, I jumped out of bed for a quick look to see if there was any breeze. Oooooh its looking positive, the met forecast of 8mph gusting 16mph perhaps being true to its word.
Ok its not super exciting but with South Staffs sailing clubs’ tradition of having shiftier wind than one of the NSCA sponsors (I’ll allow you to guess who), there were possibilities of a good, to exceptional result for any of the local sailors.
So, I made my way to the club, slightly pensive after last years calamity of forgetting my sail, rudder and shrouds. However, pre planning, and packing the motorhome the day before, made sure the same dilemma would not occur! Half way down the motorway the dreaded engine warning light came on, but no loss of power, so onwards, and if that is my only issue of the day, then happy days.
Arriving at the club at 8.20am to find Jonathan Woodward already bimbling away with his boat settings, and looking nervous. Closely followed by Maria Franco and Midland area rep Kev Hall.
I greeted the travellers and made my way over to set up my boat, without a hiccup may I add.
However……. our captain Jonny Coats was looking dishevelled, from the previous evening’s shenanigans, blaming his poor wife Kate for inviting the whole street over, enticing them with alcohol and leading the way with two full bottles of prosecco, like the pied piper luring them to their eventual drowning.
This isn’t looking good, one of our superstars babbling away like a Brummie chipmunk, and with a vane popping out of his head like stressed Eric. The other barely able to function, let alone sail in the correct direction. But then Chris White turned up in a borrowed Boon Ovington, to be our potential saviour, who although hasn’t stepped into a solo for 10 years, is a national champion and world champion in the Lark and GP14.
I greeted Katie Keith, one of the three ladies that had entered this year. Although I’m obviously going to be biased as she is my crew in the Lark, is one of our new up and coming talents, only been sailing for about 12 months, and has sailed a solo twice, first time out taking three or four scalps and then at the jetty afterwards saying she hadn’t got a clue what she was doing. I won’t go into detail about the contorted faces of the gentlemen after that comment, whom were soundly beaten.
28 boats in total with 5 sailors that made the journey from Northampton, 3 from Shustoke, 11 from South Staffs, 3 ladies competing, 3 generations in one family Tony Hotchkiss, Lee and Anna Nankervis, and Ben Nankervis (13 years old).
So, the conditions were sunshine and blue skies, wind strength 3 – 9 knots, gusting slightly more occasionally, with an oscillating wind changing 10 – 90 degrees, and building slightly during the race.
According to Kev Hall, definitely a day for the light wind specialists. (Excuses, excuses). Although Jonathan Woodward tells me he was full hiking and using his kicker to de power at times.
The race started without a general recall (odd) shortly after the wind went left, Jonathan Woodward took himself to the far right, and as he tacked back, the wind swung back right and he reached to the first mark, giving him a clear lead, followed by Jonny Coate. Once the fleet had sorted itself out there were four boats of Ian Ingram, Kev Hall, Neil Wilkinson and Ian Carpenter behind the front two who were constantly swapping positions pretty much at each leg of the course. Paul Bottomley was on a piece of elastic just behind, gaining and losing the whole race.
Meanwhile Coate was having non of Woodward's big lead, and caught his coat tails on the last lap even overtaking Woodward at one point. Woodward went high seeking pressure and found it taking back the lead to the next mark. Then on the last Beat Woodward went left. Coate went right on a last chance saloon gamble, but it didn’t pay off. White had an awful start, and finding his feet in the solo made his way from the back of the fleet to 8th with Bottomley holding on to 7th by the skin of his teeth.
Only other thing of note, Mike Cossey was so dismayed with his 10th position, and that Bottomley had beaten him, that he threw himself straight into the water between the boat and the jetty, but he was nice and cool sitting in the sunshine eating his lunch afterwards.
So it ended:
1st Jonathan Woodward
2nd Jonny Coate
3rd Ian Ingram
Break for lunch, Thanks to Kate Phillips and Amanda Whitehouse for providing a lovely lunch.
PRO Bill Bradburn and his team of Alex Beiganski, Neil Goodhead and Oli Goodhead pondered a change of course, waiting for his burgee to stop spinning. Bill decided on an extra long line, to sort the men from the boys, and when the wind settled enough to retain the same course, then set us underway.
Anna Nankervis took to the pin end, with everyone else by enlarge, near the committee boat. With what can only be called women’s intuition, Anna tacked, crossed the fleet and made it to the windward mark with a considerable lead, showing all the men and boys how it’s done, in her beautifully presented wooden solo. Also impressively keeping the lead for a full lap before being caught and overtaken by the chasing pack.
Once the chasing pack of 4 or 5 competitors went around the first windward mark, it wasn’t long before a wall of sails covered the wind, and those who went right and close to the island found pressure and gained ground quickly. Jonny Coate being one of those. Bottomley however went on a solo run left also finding pressure, but losing ground, and swamped by competitors shouting for mark room. However, he tried his arm, but found himself doing turns for his troubles.
Chris White, Neil Wilkinson, Jonathan Woodward and Ian Ingram all gave Jonny Coate a hard time and keeping him focused. On the last run Jonny Coate remembering the pressure at the island, took his chance again, with a shout from Woodward saying how did you do that! Coate sailed past and said, you have to make your own luck Jonathan. And find his own luck he did, and took the win, finishing:
1st Jonny Coate
2nd Neil Wilkinson
3rd Chris White
R3 got underway with the same course, and without a recall all day.
Ian Ingram seeing Anna Nankervis first to the windward mark in the last race from the pin end, opted to test the theory again, and it worked. But showing how difficult and oscillating the wind was across the race course on the day, Kev Hall took the committee boat end, and rounded just behind Ian. Third around the mark was Neil Wilkinson. Again, Coate and his hangover were having none of it and picked off competitors like a sniper generally going hard left on the beats until he took the win!
1st Jonny Coate 2nd Ian Ingram 3rd Kev Hall
So, a well deserved win for South Staffs solo captain in very testing conditions.
Spot prizes were awarded to the first lady helm and the first junior, congratulations to the Nankervis clan who scooped both. A special mention to Ben Nankervis in his first Solo open meeting at 13 yrs. old, well-done Ben. Tell your Mum and Dad the family needs a triple stacker now!!
First Lady: Anna Nankervis – Shropshire SC
First Junior: Ben Nankervis – Shropshire SC