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Salcombe Yacht Club Summer Series Race 4

by John Burn, David Greening & Andrew Groves 3 Jul 2023 09:14 PDT 25 June 2023

Yawl Fleet (by John Burn)

Lots of wind, lots of tide, and a constant stream of shifty gusts resulted in only six Yawls hitting the water on Saturday. Unfortunately, two of them, for their own reasons, headed home before the start, leaving just four to battle it out with each other in the feisty conditions.

As the start hooter sounded, a monster gust powered down the estuary. It hit Will and Mandy Henderson in Y168 and John Burn sailing with Tristan Stone in Y170, while Y150, being slightly closer to the beach, seemingly avoided it and sailed off into an early lead.

Will and Mandy soon regained the lead and were first around Millbay, followed by John and Tristan. Toby Straus and Simon Dawes in Y150 rounded third, ahead of Phil Magee and Peter Andrews in Y74.

Will and Mandy, living life on the edge, were looking for maximum speed, running by the lee with very little centre plate or kicker, when a hefty gust hit them, nearly tipping them in to windward right in front of the packed-out Ferry pub. Some quick thinking and exceptional boat handling from the helm and crew saw them survive, but unfortunately, their jib pole didn't.

Boat back under control, and disaster averted, the Hendersons were still in the lead. John and Tris, seeing what had just played out in front of them, decided that running by the lee wasnt for them, so they gybed off, taking a safer but probably slower route to Snapes.

As they headed through the bag and then off down to Yalton, Will and Mandy extended their lead over John and Tris, while they in turn pulled away from Toby and Simon.

The long beat back from Yalton saw the wind pick up even more, and trying to short tack through ditch end became somewhat challenging and energy-sapping. The race Officer decided that keeping the fleet out for another loop in the building breeze was a risk not worth taking and opted to finish the fleet as they reached the line.

1st Will and Mandy Henderson 2nd John Burn and Tristan Stone 3rd Toby Straus and Simon Dawes 4th Phil Magee and Peter Andrews

Solo Fleet (by David Greening)

With a strong flooding tide and a solid Westerly breeze coming up the harbour it was vital to be front rank on the starting line.

Olly Turner, fresh from wins at the Starcross and Dittisham Open meetings, gunned into the lead heading toward the Mill Bay mark.

The early front pack Tim Fells, David Greening and Graham Cranford-Smith lost out while cheating the tide closer to the Portlemouth shore, when most of the fleet sailed over them as the wind veered right.

On the run back from Mill Bay, Tim Fells picked up a massive gust from the Salcombe side to regain most of the places lost on the previous beat as the fleet headed into the Bag to round Saltstone behind Bill Jago. The fleet then blasted its way down to Yalton, with Olly being chased down by a bunch of sexagenarians, but on the hard beat out of Yalton Creek Ollys youth prevailed, whilst Chubby Cleaves ground his way past Dobson, Fells and Jago into second place.

A shorten course hooter created some excitement, followed by disappointment when the tiring Solo sailors realised that it was for the Yawls and not for them. On the final lap several of the leaders dropped down the order as the wind increased and as they took spills in the gusty conditions while tacking up the past Fishermans Cove, which allowed Fells to secure third and Greening fourth places.

Junior Fleet (by Andrew Groves)

Well that was eventful! It was not certain that the juniors would race given the huge gusts powering down the estuary. But the OOD decided they were all capable of managing the conditions and set a sensible course of Ferrymark, Crossways X 2.

There were multiple capsizes pre start and more "irons" than you'd see on a Saturday afternoon at the London Stadium. Unluckily for Lewis Groves he managed a capsize almost on the start gun!

None of the three intrepid juniors were wanting to repeat last week's start line shenanigans that saw 2 of them OCS, so there was considerable water between them all and the start line. But it was George Reynolds who shot off into a lead followed by Charlotte Simmonds with Lewis some way behind. George gambled with a strong tide and paid the price as Charlotte keeping tight to the shore built a good lead. Lewis also hugging the shore crept past George and started to reel in Charlotte as they made their way up to Millbay.

The wind was really beginning to have an impact on the race now with George capsizing off Cable Cove as the gusts hit a F6! Lewis headed off to Ferrymark earlier and lower than Charlotte and it paid off as he rounded the mark in the lead. Charlotte caught a huge gust just as she was bearing away and headed off towards Millbay at warp speed. This allowed Lewis to build his lead, but it was short lived as another big gust flattened him and by the time was upright again Charlotte was level with him.

George, after taking another swim, was quite some way behind by the time he rounded the first mark.

Lewis and Charlotte sailed side by side pretty much to Crossways but the crucial difference was that Lewis needed to gybe before he could round the mark and you guessed it he went straight over and Charlotte sailed off into a big lead.

The wind was almost too strong by now and every other tack saw them struggle not to get caught in irons and short tacking up the Portlemouth side became too much of a challenge, so the tide was ignored and it became about survival. George after a few more capsizes decided he'd had enough and got a tow back to Smalls.

Charlotte and Lewis struggled back to Ferrymark before the course was shortened. Charlotte rounded the final mark and sailed over the line to a well deserved win. Lewis came in second and managed to capsize as he was crossing the line this time going turtle.

All three racers should be proud of their courage and tenacity, given conditions that would have seen many stay at home. As it stands Charlotte currently leads the series and has grown in confidence and ability with every race.

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