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Barney Greenhill Solo class open meeting at Salcombe Yacht Club

by Graham Cranford Smith 28 May 06:33 PDT 25-27 May 2024
Barney Greenhill Solo open meeting at Salcombe © Will Loy

Barney has been a figure on the Salcombe scene all his life. He is also well versed in the art of mushroom growing, which he long wholesaled in Covent Garden. Now retired but through considerable largesse, he sponsors The Barney Greenhill Whitsun Solo May Bank holiday open; which is a smorgasbord of proper nouns.

Barney also is the nominator of The Struggle Trophy which in other circles, might be more charitably known as an Endeavour. Barney calls it "The Struggle". This is awarded to the helm scoring results in all races with the highest score. Barney's deed of gift dictates that no helm may win it more than once in succeeding years.

The net effect is that these days, it is indeed quite a struggle to avoid winning the award. For, Barney, when handing out the trophy, doth gently mock the hapless recipient somewhat at the prize-giving. There is a certain ignominy attached. As we shall find out.

Uncharacteristically, this open meeting was not widely promulgated to the wider Solo class which is a pity because this was an epic sailing weekend. As a result, there were few visitors and an otherwise abbreviated fleet. Many Solo suspects were sailing their Yawls. Others had heard that the "Mizzen Link" close harmony sea shanty group were gigging and had removed themselves to Worcestershire.

Nevertheless, the mostly local fleet numbered eighteen on the start line for...

Race 1 - Saturday PM

Via an admin cock up Adrian Griffin, selfless Solo fleet cap was nominated PRO for Day one and two. The fleet rightly anticipated a decent course. However, the wind God was too busy descending the Holy Spirit to the Disciples this day (Whitsun, remember) and selected a light South Easterly for us. In Salcombe this is nearly as dire as a North Westerly, except slightly warmer.

Aido set 7, 5, 7, X, 3, X. The tide was ebbing hard and there was limited harbour room. At the start there was little wind, the first real pressure presenting itself near the fuel barge. Roger Guess attained this first followed by William Wall, John Evans and Iain McGregor. Simon "Yotter" Yates was also in contention.

There followed snakes and ladders in The Bag with Cleaves making hay after a bad start. By Gerston, Guess held a healthy lead chased down by Wall, Evans and McGregor. Yates too, remained in the hunt.

At mark 5, Guess held on, but a dropped tiller extension allowed Cleaves through to third behind Evans. In the bag, Guess sought out a hole of limited pressure allowing Evans into the lead.

Returning to mark X, Evans ground to a halt in little wind allowing the chasing pack to gain ground. By mark X, Cleaves had sniddled through into the lead. Given the SE breeze, the Town side was the obvious choice but Guess and Wall gambled on Portlemouth. Wall edged Guess at the finish by a boat length to win. Cruelly, Evans was just bested by Cleaves into fourth, having sailed a very difficult race well. Ominously, McGregor secured a tenth position...

Race 2 - Sunday Morning

Here teams were presented with a solid 15 knots South Westerly with a strong ebb. They also started under a black flag to encourage line discipline. Sadly, John Evans was a casualty and was called offside at mark 1.

Hugging Biddle head, Cleaves led the charge against the ebb pursued by McGregor and the general classification peloton in pursuit.

The course dictated a trip to mark 7 during which McGregor and Cleaves traded places. Wall, following a poor start had recovered to third.

Unhappily Guess was taken poorly and absented himself from the remainder of play. By the time the fleet regained the town beat to mark 1 the wind had built to a solid 20 knots. This entailed a sketchy run back against the strong ebb to mark 3. Just as in October 2022, (who exactly, is counting?) McGregor failed to master the requisite multiple gybes. Such was McGregor's rate of windward roll, witnesses reported that the mast hit the water before the hull.

After a gruelling ninety minutes, Cleaves, Wall and a young-looking Nigel Blazeby (his son), closed out the top three.

Race 3 - Sunday afternoon

By now, the Gods had finished with descending the Holy Spirit on God's disciples. He was in no mood for pleasantries. We had an honest 20 knots and wildly punctuating bullet gusts of differing vectors.

Again, our teams started under black flag. John Evans returned from beach exile having reflected on his misdemeanour.

A notable start line absentee was McGregor who had earlier lost a burgee in his capsize style scenario. He determined that notwithstanding the patent 20 knot wind direction and sixty years' helming experience, he simply had to have a burgee. Securing a purchase made him seven minutes late for this start. Dear reader, this may yet become pivotal in any quest for not only the Struggle Trophy but also a solid challenge for the SYC annual Capsize Belt. Do read on...

Cleaves rounded mark 1 first and opened up a solid lead courtesy of a private gust. Meanwhile, McGregor was still in The Boat Store browsing burgee colourways.

A peloton developed behind Cleaves the front runners being Wall, Hodgson and Evans. McGregor, DFL, brought up the rear but at least he had a burgee.

The reach to mark 7 was full on planing in a solid 20 knots. All were flat out, at least in Solo terms, with the foils and centreboards melting.

Back in the harbour the race turned into a hiking fest. Legs wilted under the strain. None felt short-changed by the welcome appearance of the shortened course flag. Cleaves, Yates, Hodgson. McGregor had recovered to ninth...

Race 4 - Monday AM

What a lovely day. Classic Salcombe. Sun, breeze. Champagne indeed.

Aido by now had been relieved as PRO. This race was officiated by Graham Cranford Smith. The start coincided with high water neaps and a solid SW breeze. Course: 1,4,1,3,1,3, 2,3. Aido after two days as PRO had fresh legs and led off the line. But at the first, Cleaves from Evans, Yates, McGregor, Stevens.

Cleaves duly rounded 4, first and made use of his physique and nous to pull out a strong lead. Wall was by this point, elsewhere on family duties.

In the harbour big gusts prevailed. Most timed gybes to coincide with flattish water and lower wind speeds. Others were not so judicious.

After another ninety-minute hikeathon the PRO took pity and shortened. Cleaves from Yates and Hodgson third. McGregor meanwhile: fifth.

On the SYC terrace, talk was not of the event winner; this much was clear. Cleaves. But rather, who would be this year's recipient of Struggle award? Only the PRO and Barney knew...

With solemn ceremony to mark the occasion, Barney stepped up to the presentation podium. Silence prevailed. Barney cleared his throat and delivered his usual wry beneficent verdict on the weekend's racing. And lo, amid much joy, merriment and thrown beer, 2024 Struggle Trophy winner and new burgee recipient: Iain McGregor!

An extremely popular win, accepted with the good grace of a true gentleman. In 2025 we would like to see many more teams compete for the most prestigious Solo trophy in the calendar: The Struggle. McGregor, having now won it, may sleep easily.

Thank you, Barney, for supporting the Solos and providing us such amusement. We really do appreciate it.

Next in Salcombe: Nigel Pusinelli 19th/20th October 2024

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmR1R2R3R4Pts
1st5879Chris Cleaves‑21113
2nd5021William Wall122(DNC)5
3rd5601Simon Yates5‑85212
4th5107Martin Hodgson(DNC)73313
5th5741John Evans4(BFD)4614
6th5876Gavin Stevens‑847415
7th6088Iain McGregor‑1059519
8th5658Rob Peebles96(DNC)722
9th4543Mark Sancken(DNC)96924
10th5734Chris Spencer ‑ Chapman‑111081028
11th5411Stuart Cartwright‑1311101132
12th5743Nigel Blazeby123(DNC)DNC34
13th5851Roger Guess3(DNC)DNCDNC41
14th6007Mark Maskell6(DNC)DNCDNC44
15th4857Mike Hodges7(DNC)DNCDNC45
16th6030Adrian Griffin(DNC)DNCDNC846
17th5088Tristram Squire14(DNC)DNCDNC52
18th5402Alex Janzen15(DNC)DNCDNC53

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