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.
For the afternoon back to back races a change of course was attempted after a shift in direction as we took to the water, unfortunately, the wind shifted back which would have meant a reaching start. Whilst that would have made it very interesting the race officer decided to revert to the original position and course we used before lunch.
With the beat in the middle of the lake and the direction causing a little confusion and a convergence from either side the first beat was difficult, at least for me anyway.
Jonny Coate made it first round the windward mark followed by Oli Davenport, those two pulled away and tussled for a while for lead but Jonny showed good resilience to hold the lead, take the second bullet and the open meeting win in impressive style.
For the rest of the fleet, positions changed constantly which made the racing amazing. Kev Hall was on the right side of a huge shift and pulled ahead of the rest of the fleet.
Race 2 finished Jonny Coate 1st, Oli Davenport 2nd, Kev Hall 3rd.
A change of course for race 3 saw another clean getaway with Alan Bishop taking an early lead from Kev Hall.
Such was the day that huge gaps formed between first and second and also second and the rest of the fleet.
Based on the areas of wind across the lake you could regularly hear ‘that’ noise when boats behind have wind and you don’t. As the wind picked up in the final few minutes of the race the lead Alan Bishop held was cut to boat lengths by Hall and Davenport. A bit of confusion as to where the finish was, which turned out to be a raised box ashore in line with the windward mark meant the finish was Alan Bishop 1st, Oli Davenport 2nd, Kev Hall 3rd.
Jonny Coate – South Staffs – 2pts
Alan Bishop – Girton SC – 3pts
Oliver Davenport – Northampton SC – 4pts
Congratulations to Jonny Coate for winning the first Solo event he has attended since purchasing a boat well known in the fleet, 5130. Watch this space once Jonny gets used to the Solo!
Jonny thanked the club and all the volunteers for what was a challenging event to get the races set and underway.
Barnt Green SC chose the Allen sponsored spot prizes for this event and those were awarded to first Septimus, and long-time Solo fleet member Bob Suggitt who finished 10th overall.
Maria E. Franco was awarded the other spot prize for the first lady, Maria finished 18th overall.
Thanks to Barnt Green SC for putting on the event, Solo fleet captain Mat Newton-Sherlock, PRO Mike Pickworth assisted by Adrian Taylor and Mr & Mrs Seal in the safety boat.
Next event in the Midland series is at Bartley SC on Saturday 24th April.
Report by: Kev Hall