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Bournemouth Digital Poole Week 2023 – Day 1

by David Harding 20 Aug 21:49 PDT 20-25 August 2023

A great day to explore Poole Harbour

After the summer we've been having - if it really has been 'summer' - it came as a huge relief that the forecast for Bournemouth Digital Poole Week 2023 held the promise of some slightly less wet and windy weather. And the fact that the Met Office didn't get it quite right for the first day was forgiven. It was warm, dry, mostly bright - even sunny at times - and breezier than forecast.

Fickle and shifty northerlies have dominated Poole Week for the past two years, so it also made a welcome change to see the wind back in the south west. This allowed good long beats to be set from the Parkstone Platform for the fleets starting at the eastern end of the harbour. Because south westerlies are often steadier than some directions, it also made life less frustrating for the race team on Parkstone Yacht Club's brand-new committee boat in the harbour's Top Triangle. The new catamaran from Cheetah Marine only made the delivery trip from the Isle of Wight to Poole on Thursday and was pressed straight into action.

Another feature of south westerlies is that, even when they're forecast to be light or moderate, the sea-breeze effect on a warm summer's day can give the gradient breeze a significant boost. Monday saw a mean speed of 14-15 knots and gusts of up to 20, keeping everyone on their toes, catching a few unawares and giving some good planing reaches.

Even with relatively straightforward sailing conditions, plenty of challenges can crop up. Several Wayfarers didn't spot the change of course for the second race. Sean Murray had won the first race from Ian Sargeant, who sneaked in just ahead of Jackie Dobson and Dave Mitchell on the line. Murray and Dobson/Mitchell were among those who set off on a repeat of the first course, only to realise when it was too late that the rest of the fleet was going a different way. Sargeant recorded another 2nd to lead overall at the end of the first day from David and Sally Wall.

Among the other fleets starting from the Parkstone Platform, the XODs were led around in both races by John Tremlett, a visitor from Itchenor with an impressive track record including multiple wins in Cowes Week. Another visitor, Eric Williams from Lymington - no stranger to Poole Week - scored 4, 2 to lie second.

The handicap fleets were sailing from the platform too, featuring boats ranging from Fusions and ILCA 4s to several Merlin Rockets, an MRX, a couple of Contenders and an RS300. Contenders don't always find the downwind legs easy when up against two-handers with spinnakers, but David Evans showed just what a Contender can do on a screaming reach when the wind is at the right angle, putting some good distance between him and the pursuing fleet to win the first race from Steve and Ally Tyler in their Merlin Rocket. The order was reversed in the second race, both boats ending the day on three points.

In the Top Triangle, the Flying Fifteens, RS200s and ILCA 6s and 7s sailed their normal triangle/sausage or windward/leeward courses for the first race before setting off on a 'harbour tour' for the second. This took them down the harbour, past Brownsea Castle, up South Deep and around Brownsea, Furzey and Green Islands to the upper Wych before heading back down towards Parkstone, taking full advantage of the channels and islands that Poole Harbour has to offer.

All told, it was a day that gave few people cause for complaint. As one of the Flying Fifteens put it, despite having encountered problems with a new spinnaker pole system, 'It was a nice breeze and a nice day out on the water'.

Provisional results on

Photos on

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