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West Kirby Sailing Club Solo Open Meeting 22 June 2024

Sponsored by Winder Boats and Impact Marine

Report by Philip Barnes

L to R: Philip Barnes 3rd, Innes Armstrong 1st, Andy Carter 2nd

Photo - J Davenport

Arriving at the Club, everyone was excited at the prospect of sailing on the sea with West Kirby hosting the only northern sea event of the 2024 series. A perfect forecast NW f4 decreasing 3 and sunny day was promised making it certain we would be racing on the sea. Unpacking the boats it was quite cold and breezier than forecast with a chilly 17kts North Westerly blowing in from the Irish Sea and those with shorts and T shirts quickly putting on jackets to keep warm. Kite surfers and wing foilers were flying across the marine lake making the most of the conditions.

We rigged the Solos and lined up for launching, but there was no water to sail on, the committee boat launched onto the sand, still high and dry.

In the clubhouse we were greeted to the usual excellent hospitality of the West Kirby team with delicious sticky buns and doughnuts with coffee as we registered to race. Included with the race entry was a picnic lunch ready for 3 back to back races.

At the briefing, the OOD urged us to be sensible at the start without requiring general recalls as time was tight for the tide not being quite as high as in previous years, but at 8.2m would be enough for three 30 to 40 minute races.

At 10.35, the water magically arrived at the slip way and we launched reaching to the start line whilst checking the strength of tide flowing into the estuary.

Race 1 was biased to the committee boat and favoured an early tack into the moorings to stay out of the foul tide. The course for races 1 and 2 was Olympic sausage, triangle. The wind had dropped to around 12kts for nice full power sailing and steady direction with the main challenge keeping boat speed through the waves and occasional lulls. Innes Armstrong and Martin Honnor got off to an early lead. Approaching the windward mark Philip Barnes, John Dixon and Phil Proctor were closing on the leaders. The club lead rescue boat led us around reminding us it was “sausage not triangle” and the downwind leg saw plenty of place changing. Up the next beat the wind started to ease and Armstrong held the lead, Barnes passed Honnor on the beat and the race finished Armstrong 1st, Barnes 2nd, Honnor 3rd and Dixon 4th. By now it was much warmer with champagne sailing out on the very picturesque estuary.

For the second race the wind had clocked right 5 to 10 degrees and the current eased to almost slack water. With a strong right hand bias and little tide holding us back it was no surprise to have a general recall. The OOD repositioned the pin upwind for a better bias and the fleet got away to a clean ‘U’ flag start. This time there was no real tidal gain for the boats that went right and actually sailed into less pressure. Armstrong got off to a great start and took the middle of the beat. Barnes and Chris Gillard went left and looked very good but overstood the windward mark. Andy Carter nailed the lay line to take 2nd at the mark followed by Gillard who hit the mark, allowing Barnes back into 3rd. Only just behind in 5th was Justine Davenport who was on fire, sailing very fast and consistently pushing for 4th place. Justine said that Innes had let her use a more recent sail instead of the not so new white dacron sail. Perhaps, with a new sail Justine will be beating Innes! The race positions held to the finish with Armstrong taking the bullet and hence winning the day. Carter took second ahead of Barnes, Gillard and Davenport.

For race 3, the wind had dropped to around 7 to 8kts and the OOD had limited time for the race to get the fleet back ashore before being marooned in the cruiser moorings as the tide went out. The beat was reduced in length and this time a windward leeward course. A very tactical beat and run saw Armstrong sail to another perfect victory – congrats Innes. Behind it was a repeat of race 2 with the same contenders in 2, 3, 4 and 5.

As we approached the finish of the last race, Chris Gillard was calling me (Barnes), I wondered what I had done wrong …. then I realised he was calling; “looks like you are writing the report”. Perhaps that was why he was holding back towards the end of the race so he did not take 3rd to write the report.

We all sailed in and there was actually plenty of water to sail right to the jetty to be greeted by a small army of helpers holding our trollies identified by the tally numbers – thank you.

What a great day. Thank you to all the volunteers at West Kirby who put in so much effort from the car park manager, sandwich maker, registration team, PRO Mike De St Paer and team, rescue and mark layer teams and trolley team. Also a special good luck to Alan Leyland following his surgery and to getting back on the water soon.

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