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Bournemouth Digital Poole Week 2021 - Day 6

by David Harding 28 Aug 12:57 PDT 23-27 August 2021

For many of the fleets competing in Poole Week, much was riding on the final day. Points were tight at the top - often tied - and it could all go down to the last moments of the last race.

Those who had already secured their victories, or as good as, could relax and enjoy their sailing in a wind that, yet again, was from the north east and extremely patchy. Not surprisingly, the lack of pressure didn't slow them down in the least. Nigel Yeoman continued his winning ways in the Dolphins. Peter Stacey and Suzie Clayton recorded a 1, 2 in the Darts to finish four points clear of Bill Parker and Andy Baldwin. Parkstone YC's sailing secretary, Steve Tyler, crewed by his wife, Ally, won the fast handicap fleet ahead two other Merlin Rockets.

In the slow handicap fleet, Nigel Pearce added to his row of bullets to finish 11 points clear at the top. Similarly, Jackie Dobson and Dave Mitchell led the Wayfarers home in both races. Jackie's late father, Basil Hodder, a stalwart of the Parkstone Wayfarers, won Poole Week twice in the 1980s. Finally, having competed in over 30 Poole Weeks herself, his daughter will have her name engraved on the same trophy.

The only boat in all the fleets not to compete on the last day having already secured victory was the RS200 of Georgie and Dan Vickers. Had they sailed, however, they might have been pushed by Peter Loretto and Lucy Wise, who eventually had a few shifts go their way to finish 2nd and 1st in the final two races.

It was Malcolm Bell again in the Shrimpers, but Andy and Jackie Barker were nipping at his heels.

Of the Parkstone Platform fleets, it was the XODs where things were closest. By the end of Thursday, Willie McNeill in Lara, X 123, had just edged ahead of Gill Ellis and her crew of David and Will Bedford in Heyday, X173. Back in 1986, Bedford helmed Heyday - then based in Poole - to victory in Cowes Week. Now part of the Lymington fleet, Heyday hadn't forgotten the way around Poole Harbour but it was Lara that came home with the trophy.

With a points-tie at the top of the Flying Fifteens going into Friday's racing, the pressure couldn't have been greater. In the end, it was Pete and Jo Allam's day, despite a discarded 9th in the final race. Crispin Read Wilson and Steve Brown finished 2nd overall, with Bob Alexander and Huw Willetts 3rd despite a broken spinnaker halyard having cost them both races on Sunday.

The biggest story of the day, however, was the Connellan brothers from Middle Nene SC in Northamptonshire sailing their classic Fifteen, sail number 2700, to second place in the last race.

The ILCA 6s had also gone into the final day with the top two - Freddie Howarth and Roberta Hartley - tied on points. They were still tied after the final two races, so it came down to the number of firsts and that tipped it in favour of young Freddie.

Things weren't quite as close in the ILCA 7s, the home club's Hywel Roberts winning both races to end the week with a four-point lead over Alan Davis from Oxford.

Visitors to Poole Week often gave the locals a run for their money. This time, the event attracted entrants from 18 clubs including Scammonden Water in Yorkshire, from where Alan Goodrum came to sail in the slow handicap fleet. His Solo was one of 19 different classes that made up the week's 176 entries.

As well as the sailing, the socialising and the on-the-water coaching, Poole Week had extra treats in store this year. Stu Bithell, one of Parkstone's two gold medallists from the Tokyo Olympics, was spotted with Niall Myant-Best in the coaching RIB one day, while Chris Draper gave a talk on Monday evening entitled 'Foiling, Evolution and Trickle-down'.

The presence of rock stars undoubtedly added focal points to the week. As was pointed out more than once at the prize-giving on Friday evening, however, the week wouldn't be what it is without the competitors, the club members, staff and volunteers who plan and organise it, and many others. They, of course, include the sponsors - Axent Embroidery, Badger Beers and the headline sponsor, Bournemouth Digital, who have confirmed their support for the next three years.

So that was Poole Week 2021; a week when not one day was lost to gales or calms, the wind only blew from the north or east and everyone was very happy to be out sailing again.

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