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Sea Sure 2020 - LEADERBOARD

Parkstone Yacht Club Flying Fifteen Mini Series

by Steve Randle 24 May 2021 03:49 PDT 22 May 2021
Flying Fifteen mini series at Parkstone © Lisa Randle

After the horrendous weather, with 48 knot winds that lashed our bungalow at Hengistbury Head all day on Friday, we were quite relieved to see that the wind had eased on Saturday morning as we got ready to drive across Bournemouth for the first Mini Series of the season. But should we venture out into the bay or use the top triangle in the Harbour?

The Bay looked grey, cold and above all calm with little wind close into shore around Branksome as we drove down the hill past the Royal Bath. This was the deciding factor and we committed to running the racing in the Top Triangle where there might be a better wind for sailing, as often is the case.

Despite the cold, overcast weather thirteen intrepid Flying Fifteens crews were rigging up in the yard and launching early to avoid the worst of the low tide.

With Fiona Linford, Phil Cotton, Lisa and myself on board, Ron Cox headed out of the Marina following Ann and John Keates on a Rib with the race marks. We were ready to set the fleet some challenging 'sprint' races in the cool westerly 10 knot breeze which continued to gather strength as we made our way up the harbour, leaving us to ponder...

  • Would the fleet get some good racing?
  • Did they all read and understand the Sailing Instructions ?
  • Would the weather spoil the show once again?
  • Did we pack the sausage rolls?
By the time we got to the race area the wind had set in and was blowing a reasonable 14 knots with some gusts to 18 knots from the west.

Race One: Course T3 (Triangle, Sausage Triangle' finish down-wind between Mark 3 & the bows of the committee boat)

First start sequence: nearly everyone was over the line with 10 seconds to go before the start, this resulted in a general recall... I hope its not going to be one of those of those afternoons! Black flag? Not yet, let's use the U Flag. The second attempt with the U Flag imposed, resulted in much better behaviour on the line and the fleet went away cleanly.

Crispin Read Wilson and Steve Brown's white spinnaker on 3922 was the first to be seen breaking open at the top of the first beat with a pretty good lead ahead over Dave Tabb and Chewey Sherrell on 4052, recognisable with their distinctive light blue kite just in second place with Simon Redhead and Mike Riley in 3916 leading the rest of the fleet, which was quite closely packed together as they chased Crispin Read Wilson and Steve Brown around the first triangle. The wind had swung towards South West making the next windward-leeward lap a bit biased, but not enough to excuse a couple of boats sailing out to the wing mark! This navigational error significantly changed the finishing order with 3934 (Graham Davies and Chris Jermyn) and 3537 (Bob Alexander and Huw Willetts) sailing considerably further than the rest of the fleet back downwind. Clearly a couple of boats had not remembered the course signals in the Sailing Instructions!

Crispin Read Wilson and Steve Brown held on to the lead to take line honours in the first race, closely followed by Dave Tabb and Chewey Sherrell with Simon Redhead and Mike Riley, in a rapid return to form pressing them hard to the line, taking third place.

1st 3922 Crispin Read Wilson and Steve Brown
2nd 4052 Dave Tabb & Chewey Sherrell
3rd 3916 Simon Redhead & Mike Riley

Race Two: Wind now WSW and lighter. With the Marks slightly realigned, we elect for a two lap Windward-Leeward course.

The fleet line up for the start, once again pushing the line competitively despite the U Flag procedure being applied. An almost excellent start by Richard Ledger and Stephen Moncur on 3966 at the pin end enabled them to pull clear of the fleet and lead the race from the start until the finish, only to be disappointed to learn that they were over the line at the start and were therefore UFD'd. In keeping with their positive character, Richard Ledger and Stephen Moncur laughed it off and focussed on the next race. Still a shame for them, but well done for sailing so well.

Bob Alexander and Huw Willetts in 3537 came through to win, fair compensation for their disappointment in race one when they had misunderstood the SI's definition of the unusual finish line being used for the mini series. Chris Gorringe and Nadia Hosie (4025) sailing consistently well both upwind and down, crossed the finish line in second place with Graham Davies with guest crew Chris Jermyn in 3934 coming through to take third place having remembered the sailing instructions this time!

1st 3537 Bob Alexander & Huw Willetts
2nd 4025 Chris Gorringe & Nadia Hosie
3rd 3934 Graham Davies & Chris Jermyn

Race Three: Windward-Leeward once again with the wind moving even more towards SW.

The fleet once again were all hard pressed on the line, with Crispin Read Wilson and Steve Brown (3922) dipping back under seconds before the one minute signal. Bob Alexander and Huw Willetts (3537) press the start line just too much at the pin end and unluckily could be seen a ¼ length over the line at the start. Bob Alexander and Huw Willetts read the first beat well and were ahead of Crispin Read Wilson and Steve Brown in second with the rest the fleet grouped tightly just behind as their white kite broke open once round the windward mark.

The fleet were tightly packed behind as a collage of multi coloured spinnakers floated downwind towards the leeward mark, looking like it would be a right old bundle coming up at the mark. With Bob Alexander and Huw Willetts clear ahead and round safely, the fleet managed somehow to negotiate the spinnaker drop and mark rounding cleanly with no collisions, with the help of some vocal expression to secure enough room at the mark for one or two. The fleet split left and right for the next beat, seemingly reflecting the beat was more true to the wind. Chris Gorringe and Nadia Hosie (4025) sailed comfortably with good boat speed to windward as usual for them in the 12 knot breeze continue to work through the fleet.

The now infamous Fantasie 3345, sailed consistently by the paring of Hinge and Bracket (AKA David Pipe with Rob Jarratt highly visible on bright pink balaclava), tacking off to get clear wind shortly after rounding the leeward mark. This eventually worked well for them by the time they got to the windward mark with their blue spinnaker clearly visible in third place as it pulled them quickly down the final run with the fleet split left and right, to take a well deserved third place, proving, once again, together with Bob Alexander and Huw Willetts in 3537, that experience and cunning tactics are more important in F15 racing than the age of the boat.

Bob Alexander and Huw Willetts sailed well to lead the fleet home but were disappointed to be UFD'd due to that over-enthusiastic start, giving Chris Gorringe and Nadia Hosie the win, Crispin Read Wilson and Steve Brown second with David Pipe and Rob Jarratt grinning broadly as they crossed the line in third place.

1st 4025 Chris Gorringe & Nadia Hosie
2nd 3922 Crispin Read Wilson and Steve Brown
3rd 3345 David Pipe & Rob Jarratt

Race Four: Wind now a good 12 Knots SW. Marks once again re-positioned expertly by John and Ann Keats on the rib and Ron Cox swung round to square the line by Fiona Linford's experienced helming of the, at times, clumsy committee boat.

All was set for a good final 'T3' race, despite the cold beginning to set in. (I hope we can get back in quickly after this one in time to enjoy the grub organised by Sara Briscoe for the Mini Series prize-giving!).

The start, once again was competitively challenged by the fleet, but clean with no-one at risk of the U Flag rule. The fleet split left and right up the first beat and it was difficult to see whether either side of the beat was better. The race management team had judged the course length just right with the first triangle being successfully completed by the fleet in just over 10 minutes. The results of the first three races had been very mixed with Crispin and Steve perhaps best placed in the series so far, but the final race result would still be decisive overall, with 4025 Chris Gorringe and Nadia Hosie, 4052 Dave Tabb and Chewey Sherrell and 3934 Graham Davies and Chris Jermyn all in contention to win the series. We watched patiently as the boats worked to windward, wondering what colour spinnaker we would see first as they rounded the windward mark of the last triangle.

White (3922) followed by Light blue (4052) then Blue and White (3934) then Purple and Black (4025) followed by the multi-coloured mêlé of the fleet. The boats raced quickly across the reach and gybed neatly pursuing Crispin Read Wilson and Steve Brown towards the finish line. Great to watch the colourful fleet pass through the finish line under spinnakers passing across our bows.

1st 3922 Crispin Read Wilson and Steve Brown
2nd 4052 Dave Tabb & Chewey Sherrell
3rd 3934 Graham Davies & Chris Jermyn

A great afternoon sailing by the fleet with some tight competitive racing, particularly on the start lines. The fleet always enjoys a high standard of close racing and this was once again to be seen throughout the afternoon with Dick Linford and Peter Biggs in 4036, Graham Latham and Sara Briscoe in 3758, Stewart and Jack Bowen in 3715, and Graham and Ben Scroggie in 4020 all featuring at times in the close racing, whilst Geof Gibbons and Simon Cox were out developing the set up of the newest addition to the fleet, 4088. We can expect 4088 to be showing us her transom regularly as the season rolls forward.

We rounded this off by gathering on the lower deck for a social and mini prize-giving with some hearty sandwiches and party snacks, including chocolate biscuits! This was welcomed by the fleet and capably provided and organised by Sara Briscoe.

Thanks to Lisa Randle, Fi Linford & Phil Cotton on Ron Cox, to Ann and John on the RIB and to Sara for the social afterwards, all helping to make the Mini Series successful and hopefully enjoyable for those taking part. We are looking forward to seeing Ann and John Keats and Phil and Miranda Cotton applying the knowledge leaned from watching the Fleet race when they join in on the water.

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