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Bournemouth Digital Poole Week 2021 - Day 4

by David Harding 26 Aug 05:13 PDT 23-27 August 2021

On a day like the Wednesday of Poole Week 2021, it's hard to think of anywhere nicer in the world to be than Poole Harbour.

If you were concentrating on starts, tactics, playing the shifts and everything else that racing sailors have think about, you would have had little time to soak in the surroundings. Nonetheless, you can only feel sorry for those crews who missed out and whose helms had to go without them. Andrew Clark sailed his Fireball singlehanded in the fast handicap fleet, which would have been no easy job in any more wind but was perfectly manageable in 8 knots or so.

Another single-hander was Malcolm Bell in his Shrimper, a class putting in its first appearance of the week. Whether it was Bell's white sails that gave him the edge (the rest of the nine-strong fleet sported the traditional tan) or the fact that he was carrying half the weight, he won the race. David Lack finished second and Andy Barker, visiting from Rock - home of the Shrimper - rounded off the top three.

Well before the Shrimpers started, the wind at the Parkstone platform had veered through more than 60 degrees to around 120 degrees. This made the pin end of the line the only place to be, so it got a little busy. For some there was time to make up for a duff start, however. While the Darts, XODs and slow handicap fleets stayed in the middle part of the harbour, the Wayfarers, Dolphins and fast handicappers were sent up South Deep again, as they were on Monday.

Two days earlier they had had to beat their way back from the top of South Deep before tackling Brownsea against a strengthening ebb tide. This time they had to punch the flood to the north-east corner of Brownsea before reaching up South Deep and reaching back again, flying kites if they had them.

The highlight of the day, once they had passed the seal sunbathing on Stony Island, was encountering a pod of Dolphins at Ellis Jones mark. It was a case of Wayfarer meet dolphin, now Dolphin meet dolphin. In the Dolphins that sail rather than swim, Nigel Yeoman led the fleet home to extend his lead over John Harris in second.

Staying closer to home, the slow handicap fleet was headed for the fourth race in succession by Nigel Pearce's Fusion, picking up where Duncan Glen left off after competing for the first two days in his Byte CII. Other comfortable leaders are emerging in the Parkstone Platform fleets too, including Peter Stacey and Suzie Clayton in the Darts and Jackie Dobson and Dave Mitchell in the Wayfarers.

Over in the top triangle, meanwhile, things were getting awfully close in a number of classes. At the end of the day's racing, two Flying Fifteens were tied on points at the top and there was only one point between the top two in the ILCA 7s. By contrast, Georgie Vickers established a seven-point lead in the RS200s after posting two more bullets.

Once again, it was all about watching the wind on Wednesday. As the day went on and the land became hotter, it swung progressively towards the south. Then, in the evening, the northerly gradient breeze re-established itself. With Thursday looking set to be overcast in the morning, the question is what effect this will have on the wind in the afternoon. The Poole Week competitors who get it right are likely to be the ones buying the beers on Thursday evening.

Provisional results on www.pooleweek.org and more photos on www.SailingScenes.com

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