Generally sailors can’t pick their weather – you get what is given on the day. Not satisfied? There is a better answer, every type of weather possible in fact, on the same day, and, as a bonus, sometimes in the same race. OK – I don’t think it snowed. We did however have sun, rain, hail, quiet calms and big gusts. Big gusts mostly, and from a fair few different directions.
19 Solos turned up at Silver Wing on Saturday 4th May for the venerable Jack Holt Trophy. This is a refugee from the old Wraysbury Lake Sailing Club, and dates back to the beginning of that club, and the Solo class itself. Eleven of our growing, now about 20 strong, Solo fleet were joined by 8 visitors from as far away as Rollesby Broad and West Oxfordshire SC. (Strangely I spent an equally hairy Saturday at WOSC in a different boat last weekend – must be something about this time of year).
Race 1. With an fluctuating northerly wind race officer John Peck was able to set two good beats across the lake. The start line was slightly port biased, but long enough to get everyone off cleanly. It was interesting to watch the start line technique of two of our local sailors. Dave Mason was oscillating up and down like mad to defend his position, while local youth ace Aaron Evans just sat there serenely until the gun went.
A couple of brisk beats and a run followed, but the best gust was reserved for the first gybe mark. This saw local Roger Bennett go for his first swim of the day. Oh how I did (silently-ish) cheer. Foolish me, I had barely had a leg in front of him when my main fell down due to a badly tied bobble.
Local sailor Dave Mason, only sailing his Solo for the second time, led for most of the race. He was however passed by a number of boats towards the end, with Fraser Hayden from Papercourt winning.
Race 2 saw a slightly more port biased start line, and a couple of boats were over. Roger Bennett, having decided that swimming was slow, lead to a convincing win. Winner of capsize of the day went to Ken Baker, who was apparently airborne at some point during the process. Tony Thresher was second and Fraser Hayden third.
Race 3 with the wind backing during lunchtime the RO was forced to change the course. He also managed to accommodate the requirements of the clubhouse spectators. They had complained that the gybe mark in the first two races was out of view. He obliged by moving it to the other end of the lake. I obliged them even further on the run by plonking it in to windward in a big gust right in front of the clubhouse. Roger Bennett led throughout for a second win.
And then it hailed – painfully.
Race 4. The sun came back out, to warm us up and dry our sails. Big right shift at the start and a starboard biased line. This allowed Aaron Evans to win the starboard end and sail away without really needing to tack for the line. The wind then went very soft at the end of the first lap. Aaron had by then pulled out a decent lead, but the rest of us piled into the downwind mark at the end of the first lap in a big huddle. The wind then started to fill in, with a biggish shift and a huge amount of place changing on the subsequent beat.
The wind began to fill back in to its prior strength. Aaron, who usually sails a Laser Radial or 4.7, was now being hunted down by the somewhat heavier sailors in the chasing pack. He was just able to hold off Fraser Hayden by half a boat length to win (in what was his first time sailing a Solo). Roger Bennett got himself into a tacking duel with a couple of boats. This resulted in a swim on one of the beats that may have cost him the overall event.
Fraser Hayden from Papercourt was the overall winner, with Tony Thresher from WOSC second.