A feisty wind, low cloud, rain squalls and a strong flooding tide made for challenging sailing in Salcombe Yacht Club’s penultimate Summer Series race seven.
Add to that a main fleet course that had some competitors having to do a three-mile beat from Gerston to Blackstone twice and it was understandable that competitor numbers were down.
Only the brave ventured out and congratulations to the brothers George and James Alexander, who battled round and finished in the junior fleet.
It was a very well-sailed father and son team of Andrew and Lewis Groves that mastered the conditions to win the medium handicap in their RS Feva and another family affair with the son and father team of Tristrum and Andrew Squire, who secured the fast handicap.
The fast handicap fleet was subjected to a full monty course, involving two rounds of the monster beat in force four winds and against a strong incoming tide.
Each of these legs can involve at least 30 tacks, as it is essential when beating against the tide to hug either estuary shore if you want to end up in the leading pack.
The solo fleet was keenly contested with 18 starters, plenty of drama, capsizes and place changing.
By not invoking the fairway rule, race officer Graham Pike opened up interesting first beat options of starting on the Salcombe or Portlemouth shore.
The fleet split and it was the Portlemouth starter Graham Cranford Smith who led around the windward Blackstone mark. There then followed a speedy with the tide run and reach to the Gerston mark where a tight group of six Solos converged together.
Iain McGregor, Graham Cranford Smith and Simon Dobson were all in the leading pack with “Yotter” Simon Yates and David Greening just behind.
The long Gerston to Blackstone beat followed and after battling through the Bag in tough conditions Yotter Yates elected to work the Salcombe side to Blackstone while the leaders stayed as a group on the Portlemouth side where there was fun and games with capsizes and 360 degree penalties being exercised.
Yotter Yates held the advantage at Blackstone mark and with a vicious line squall passing through the estuary, the OOD wisely shortened the course to finish the Solos on the run back through the line with Yates taking the winning bell from Dobson and McGregor.
The solo race was also notable for strong performances from the ever improving Mike Knowles who has his own dinghy park and slipway on the Portlemouth shore and also that two ladies, Jayne Morris and Liz Stephens both finished the race in fine style in the very demanding conditions.
The Yawl fleet was dominated by Paul Ellis and Martin Beck with Andrew Wood and Tim Petit securing second on handicap from the Dan Bridger Yawl. The Yawls also had the benefit of shortening course which left the unfortunate fast handicap fleet as the only class to have to do the epic two-hour plus Full Monty course.
1 Tera 2741
2 Tera 2136 James Alexander
1 Feva 4186 Andrew
and Lewis Groves,
2 Laser Radial 1559
A brave young laser sailor
1 Merlin Rocket 3725 Tristrum and
2 National 12 3534
Charlie and Helen Lloyd,
3 RS400 1421 John and
1 5601 Simon Yates,
2 5676 Simon Dobson,
3 5744 Iain McGregor
1 181 Paul Ellis
and Martin Beck,
2 67 Andrew Wood
and Tim Petit,
3 159 Dan Bridger and crew