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September 2022

Bournemouth Digital Poole Week 2022 - Day 3

by David Harding 30 Aug 21:25 PDT 28 August - 2 September 2022

A real day of Snakes and Ladders

It's hard to remember a day when the wind in Poole Harbour has been shiftier than it was on the Tuesday of Poole Week. During the racing, between 2pm and about 5pm when the fleets returned ashore, the wind was flicking between about 020 degrees and 130 degrees. Its strength ranged from practically nothing to nearly 20 knots on occasions when gusts sprang out of nowhere.

About the only good thing from the race officers' perspective was that the average direction - around 070 degrees - remained fairly constant. If the breeze suddenly swung 40 degrees to the left, the chances were that it would swing back again after a couple of minutes.

Starts from the Parkstone Platform were delayed while courses were set, but then got under way with short first beats towards the Parkstone shore.

It was the turn of the Wayfarers and the fast handicap fleet to have a harbour tour for their first race. They headed down the harbour and then up South Deep and back, east of Brownsea Island, before rounding a few more marks in the main part of the harbour on the way to the finish. Steve and Ally Tyler in their Merlin Rocket did a true horizon job to finish way ahead of the rest of the fast handicappers, which included four more Merlin Rockets, two Contenders, two Fireballs, an MRX and a couple of RS400s.

In the Wayfarers, Sean and Helen Murray broke clear to post the first of their two wins of the day and move three points ahead in the overall standings. With the wind averaging only about 8 knots during the afternoon, tidal strategy proved to be almost as important at times as keeping on the right side of the shifts. It accounted for a good number of places being won and lost in the Wayfarers as well as other fleets.

Also having a harbour tour were the Dolphins, who had to dodge the worst of the flood tide on the way down the harbour before heading up South Deep and, like the Flying Fifteens and Cornish Shrimpers on Monday, continuing around the islands and beating back to the finish. Nigel and Gareth Yeoman, winners of the week's first two races, were a few yards ahead of Richard Whing and Gail Davies approaching the finish but then went the wrong side of the Parkstone Platform and had to loop back to cross the line. This handed the race to Whing and Davies, whose scoreline now reads 3, 2, 1.

The other fleet to experience the delights of South Deep - where the wind was generally fresher, steadier and more easterly - was the RS200s. They started their second race in the Top Triangle, following a normal windward/leeward first race, and then headed for South Deep via a mark not far from Parkstone Yacht Club. Given the dying breeze and the strengthening ebb tide, however, it became clear that they had no chance making it past Brownsea Castle on the way back once they hit the main channel. Forces were mustered and the race was finished at the top of South Deep. One or two of the 200s made it back to Parkstone under their own steam. The rest were more than happy to be towed.

While many of the courses took competitors to the further reaches of the harbour, the slow handicap fleet did what it normally does and stayed relatively close to home on a course centred around the Parkstone Platform. Joining the Fusions, Bytes, ILCA 4s (Laser 4.7s) and the sole RS Aero was, as of Monday, Geoff Cox's Salcombe Yawl - a beautifully maintained example of a class that, understandably, rarely feels the urge to venture beyond its home waters.

More north-easterlies are forecast for Wednesday, and everyone involved in Poole Week is fervently hoping that they will be less capricious than they were on Tuesday.

To find out more, including provisional results, visit www.PooleWeek.org

More photos on www.SailingScenes.com

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