The Allen Contender Open and Hayling Island Sailing Club
A return to Hayling Island for the Contenders is always an occasion of note, not only have they provided us with multiple World, European and Nationals events over the years, but also the conditions out in the bay are always Contender friendly.
It was then, with both excitement and trepidation that the fleet joined like minded people from the Osprey and Fireballs, the numbers of each somewhat reduced by the big forecast, but still keen to get on it.
The race officer wisely decided that 1 race on the fruiter of two fruity days was just about as much excitement as we could handle, this was confirmed on the sail out to the start line when two of the Contenders experienced catastrophic gear failure in the 25-knot breeze and tight wavelength.
Glorious sunshine combined with a robust easterly wind greeted the visitors and home sailors to the 2022 Solo open meeting at Bartley in Birmingham. This was a joint open meeting with the Phantoms and the Race Officer John Ling and his crew did a great job of running two open meetings in difficult conditions with more than a few capsizes. The wind direction enabled a long beat for the full length of the lake, circa 750m, which tested all the sailors.
Contender traveller event number 2 was hosted by Oxford Sailing Club and the class was pleased to be back, but not quite so pleased with the forecast of cold temperatures and somewhat fickle wind. But 17 class members arrived to get some much-needed practice before the early nationals in June.
Wind was 5-8 knots with some sunny spells and some cloud, almost on forecast, but had already shown what could be ahead with a 90 degree swing on the way out.
A surprisingly clean start by the fleet with a split between the left and right, with many convinced they were correct. In the end, it was about who had prayed the most with the left seemingly paying with the first three of Nick Curry, the ever-present Stuart Jones and Chris Howe rounding the windward mark.
Positions remained consistent down the reach and run but the wind dropped for the second beat with some snakes and ladders seeing Graeme Wilcox coming back into the fleet after losing out on the first beat. All things remained even until the final beat where the fleet was blessed with a big squall, which was unfortunately accompanied with some snow. Mike Murley-Hughes took the lead with Graeme accelerating through to second by the windward mark followed by Stuart and Chris.
This was would have been the finishing order if not for Mike having a gear failure at the leeward mark letting Graeme through for the win whilst mike managed to claim second with Stuart and Chris coming through for third and fourth.
Barnt Green SC Solo Midland Area, sponsored by Allen
The second event in the Solo Midland Area calendar was held on 9th April at Barnt Green Sailing Club.
I hooked up a frost covered boat for the trip up the M40 to Barnt Green hoping it would warm up quickly for the rigging of the boat on arrival. Whilst heading up the motorway I found myself feeling a sense of déjà vu when remembering the first event at Banbury which was held in glorious sunshine and 18˚C. The sun was shining but a quick check of the outside temperature sensor soon shocked me back to thinking that 3˚C will require the right decision on the kit to wear to stay warm!
Another similarity to the previous event was the less than ideal wind direction for the event. The forecast of a NW direction and 9 – 11kts of breeze meant it would no doubt turn out to be another one of those days where the wind shadow of the two club buildings and tree lined shore would keep it interesting.
13 travellers and 7 club Solos took to the water for the 11 o’ clock start. PRO Mike Pickworth would have his work cut out to get a first beat set up with the wind shifting 45 – 50˚ at times. The first race got underway with the fleet becoming accustomed to a drag race to the first mark on starboard. Kev Hall held the pin end of the start line to round first at the windward mark from newcomer to the fleet Jonny Coate and Alan Bishop third. The top three pulled away from the rest of the fleet and positions would change regularly between those three until the fourth lap when Jonny Coate was on the correct side of one of those huge shifts and pulled out a bit of lead. A late challenge approaching the finish from Alan Bishop wasn’t quite enough and a gear failure for Kev Hall put pay to his challenge so it finished Jonny Coate 1st, Alan Bishop 2nd and Kev Hall 3rd. The racing amongst the rest of the fleet was just as intriguing with some Solo sailors working their boats hard to play the shifts only to have it all taken away if you were on the wrong side of one of the huge wind shifts, which hit without much warning. It certainly payed dividends to keep an eye on the boats ahead on the upwind legs as quite a few sailors very nearly capsized to windward and had to take time to gain balance before resuming racing. Quick tacks from those behind made for huge gains and inevitable losses across the whole fleet. I was certainly aware of one capsize in Race 1 and with the water temperature still being very cold it’s not recommended.
Lunch was held in the beautiful clubhouse that was converted after a former life as a boathouse, when the water level was much higher and must have also made the reservoir a lot bigger.
“Sail Canada is glad to see Allen Brothers join our team in its pathway toward the 2024 Olympic Games,” said Sail Canada High Performance Director, Mike Milner. “This partnership will allow our high performance athletes to have the best equipment possible and spend less time on the shore fixing their boat, and more time on the water to train, develop and perform. Welcome aboard Allen and a special thank you to coach Andrew Lewis for making this possible.”
“When I was an athlete, I wanted confidence in all areas,” added three-time Olympian and now Sail Canada’s new ILCA 7 National Coach, Andrew Lewis. “Being able to trust in my equipment was key. I used many brands, but I really enjoyed Allen products because they last much longer and are more durable. With the new partnership between Allen Brothers and Sail Canada, I am confident that athletes will have amazing products on their boats.”
The first in the Solo Midland Area calendar was held on 26th March at Banbury Sailing Club.
Usually, the first event in the yearly race program for the Solo fleet the forecast was at least for glorious sunshine all day. A light easterly wind (5 – 7kts) greeted us on arrival which for a rectangular shaped lake, running from north to south, would mean short beats and tricky wind shifts due to the trees lining the easterly shore.
17 boats (15 visitors) were on the water for the 11 o’clock start in beautiful sunshine and 17˚C. Huge wind shifts meant the inevitable Solo fleet general recall for the first start but we managed to get underway on the second attempt. It was certainly a day where places were changing in the fleet like a game of snakes and ladders but the first race finished Ian Ingram, Kev Hall and Martin Honner.