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Blowing away the cobwebs on the South Coast

Shoreham Sailing Club: Sunday 1st – Monday 2nd May

Ten Snipes gathered at Shoreham on the late May Bank Holiday as a warm-up for the Nationals later in the month.

The event was blessed by bountiful north easterly winds on both days. A very usable 16-19 knots spiced with gusts doubling that.

Two races were contested on the Sunday around a triangle/sausage/triangle course. Prior to the first race some of the fleet witnessed a pod (if two be a pod) of dolphins. They seemed like whales up close.

In the first race, Andy and Carol Gibson were first to round the windward mark. The fleet set about pursuing them on the downwind leg. The reaches were, at least for the pond sailors, a curious mixture of exhilaration tempered by thoughts of survival. The second beat, unusually, came as something of a welcome relief. The Gibson boat extended their lead over last year’s winners Sue and Steve Roberts, whilst Alan Williams and Liz Pike made progress through the fleet after a premature start. The sausage presented even greater challenges with the competitors finding various solutions (capsizing being the most radical). When the fleet converged on the leeward mark, the Gibsons continued to fender-off the fleet (dodgy pun for the rock fans out there). Team Roberts held second followed by the rest of the fleet. A further beat lead to a closing up of the fleet, a reach, a gybe or wear-around, a last reach to a finish at the leeward mark. The finishing order being Gibsons, Roberts with Williams/Pike continuing their progress up to third.

The Race Officer noted the Snipers’ willingness to remain engaged with the elements as all shaped up for the second race. This included Ian Marshall and Ewan Harris who had been forced to return to the shelter of the harbour before the first race had started to effect repairs to their mast ram. The start of the second race was preceded by a windshift that, once the effect of tide was factored in, made crossing the line on starboard a challenge. The Marshall/Harris boat pulled ahead on the first beat and held that position down the two reaches, followed closely by Team Roberts, Ian and Cecile Gregory and Ian and Bridget Knight. The next beat saw Team Roberts close the gap and nip ahead with a well judged tack for the windward mark (that was assisted by a lift in the final approach). Although the fleet was gaining familiarity with the course and conditions, the sausage leg took some casualties, three from the same gust. The leading boats vied for first place. Team Roberts gybed first for the leeward mark and rounded first. The leading half of the fleet continued to battle up the beat with Marshall/Harris closing up on Roberts, but for no purpose as the race had been finished at the leeward mark. The result therefore was Roberts from Marshall/Harris whilst after a slow start, Williams/Pike moved up to third. Unfortunately, Team Gibson sustained gear failure during a pole-up/mast down incident and retired within touching distance of the leeward finishing line.

All of this adventure left Team Roberts leading Williams/Pike and Team Knight overnight.

Good fun was had by all in the evening. A Chinese feast, giant jenga and general good humour continued to midnight. The wind intensified during the night but those under canvas were by now well versed in survival techniques.

The next morning and the wind was undiminished. A number of teams decided against venturing out. Four plucky boats went to test the conditions. Williams/Pike and Marshall/Harris returned shortly thereafter taking a common view upon the level of risk of equipment damage shortly before the Nationals. Eric Paalman and Anita McSorley were next back, having tested the integrity of their Skipper’s watertight compartments thoroughly only to be passed by Ian Knight and a suspiciously tall looking Bridget heading out of the harbour. These two blasted around in a demonstration of good wavemanship before casually returning to the harbour. With that racing was abandoned for the day, the overnight positions being upheld.

Notwithstanding the loss of racing on the Monday, this was a thoroughly enjoyable event. The racing was competitive. Whilst this is customary, it speaks well of capability of the fleet considering the testing conditions. The Club could not have been more accommodating but special thanks are due to Ian Knight for his very considerable efforts for making the event happen. Whilst all of the fleet are to be commended for dealing with the conditions, there was a degree of unease with the speed demonstrated by Richard and Debbie Marshall in their first competitive outing.

For those unable to attend, a good flavour of the conditions can be gleaned from viewing the excellent photographs of the 2011 open meeting on

Helm Name> Crew Name Boat Club R1 R2 Pts Pos
Sue Roberts Steve Roberts 29611 Blue Circle 2 0.75 2.75 1
Alan Williams Liz Pike 30316 Blue Circle 3 3 6 2
Ian Knight Bridget Knight 29164 Shoreham 5 4 9 3
Ian Gregory Cecile Gregory 28451 Blue Circle 4 6 10 4
Andy Gibson Carol Gibson 29375 Hythe & Saltwood 0.75 DNF 10.75 5
Eric Paalman Anita McSorley 30834 Budworth 6 5 11 6
Iain Marshall Ewan Harris 29501 Blackwater DNS 2 12 7
Richard Marshall Debbie Marshall 29970 Blackwater 7 DNF 17 8
Brian Gregory Philip Ayton 30315 Blue Circle 8 DNF 18 9
James Prestwich Chris Newson 30227 Budworth 9 DNF 19 10

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