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West Kirby Solo Open 2023

Saturday 22 April

Report by Innes Armstrong

Photo - Justine Davenport

West Kirby SC was the venue for the 1st Northern Series Solo Open of 2023 sponsored by Impact Marine and Winder Boats.

8 Visitors and 5 local boats were made to feel welcome with coffee and doughnuts on arrival. The event was supposed to take place on the sea (Dee Estuary) but the wind gods had other ideas. Whilst the wind had been strong leading up to the event, on the day not a ripple was to be seen on the Marine Lake – so it was decided to have a short postponement to see if the breeze would fill in as it was forecasted to do. The wind did eventually arrive, but not enough to sail on the tidal waters – 4 knots of wind and 4 knots of tide wouldn’t have made for good sailing. The RO was willing, and so were the competitors, to bring the race area onto the Marine Lake. So the decision was made and the business of rigging and registering was underway.

A simple windward – leeward course was set in order to avoid the numerous other buoys on the lake. The solo sailors, ever keen to get on with it, required two starts in the first race! Pin end was favourite and Innes Armstrong (Burwain SC) made it his own. The sailing was tactical – would town-side or sea-side pay? Local Sailor Martin Hartley, Martin Honnor (Ogston SC) and Andy Carter (Leigh & Lowton SC) were the first three round the windward mark… The run was where places changed and Armstrong managed to sneak past and lead up the next beat only to be passed by Honnor and Carter once more. The next downwind leg saw Honnor and Carter sail down the town-side of the lake whilst Armstrong stayed sea-side, in doing so he picked up an extra puff of breeze and sailed past Honnor and Carter. The three finished in that order.

Race 2 got underway in short order. This time Steve Denison (RYA) led from start to finish showing a clear transom. Martin Honnor was again 2nd followed by local sailor Martin Hartley.

Photo - Alan Jenkins

The interesting thing about the Marine Lake is when the tide does come in, particularly in the high spring tides, it overflows the wall that separates the lake from the sea, causing somewhat of a tidal effect on the course, much to the consternation of the fleet. It also caused problems as to when to call for water for the wall as it slunk beneath the surface. The wall could hardly be seen apart from a ripple of wave and a slight change in the colour of the water.

The third and final race of the day was a winner takes all race, with Armstrong, Honnor and Denison to fight it out. Another recall was issued which led to a black flag start. Everyone behaved the second time around. Close tactical racing ensued between Honnor, Carter and Denison, with Armstrong watching and hoping for mistakes to be made. Needless to say, the mistakes didn’t happen and Martin Honnor managed to bag his first win of the day, followed by Steve Denison and Andy Carter.

Winner of the event with consistent results was Martin Honnor, with Steve Denison 2nd and Innes Armstrong in third. In the end we were blessed with reasonable conditions – a sunny sky and a gentle breeze, and you could even argue we were on the sea – we were at least in tidal waters (sort of)! The event was deemed a success with an excellent race team in charge and fantastic club hospitality.

The next event in the Northern Series will be held at Burwain SC on Saturday 20th May.

Left to Right: Steve Denison 2nd, Martin Honnor 1st, Innes Armstrong 3rd

Photo - Justine Davenport

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