Winter Series : Race 3 Solo Report
Published 10:14 on 26 Nov 2023
With what was to become a challenging race, the light wind in a northly direction, 0 - 3 knts, and one hour into the flood, what could possibly go wrong. The options for the race officer were slim, with Mark 3 sat in no wind under Scoble Point, Mark X was set on the windward wind line just above the ferry steps and displayed the ancient "Roman" course of X1X1X1.
The thirteen competitors considered their options for the start, the usual conundrum, Salcombe or Portlemouth side. Both gave a lift off the shore, but the Salcombe side benefited from more tide thus Simon Dobson rounded X first closely followed by Dan Bridger and Robin Hodges, all immediately gybed and headed off to the Portlemouth shore taking the majority of the fleet with them, to find relief from the tide. A small fleet of three led by Chris Cleaves decided to roll the dice and headed off to the Salcombe side.
Fortune favours the brave, these three found a touch more breeze and moved ahead but were aware that at some point they had to cross the tide to the Portlemouth side prior to rounding one. Just before Limpyer Rocks Cleaves bit the bullet and crossed the tide to join Bridger and Dobson leading the Portlemouth group, who by now had progressed to Mill Bay.
Cleaves luck had held, had good pressure crossing the tide and filtered in just ahead of the Portlemouth pack and managed to keep ahead to round Mark 1 in first place, with Dobson second and Bridger third.
With the increasing tide under leaders, a small lead quickly increases and gives the illusion of invincibility and tactical prowess as the fleet started to spread-out. Anyone who sails in Salcombe knows that all this tidal distance will reverse very quickly as soon as you round the windward mark and start punching into the tide again, the fleet will very quickly compress.
Cleaves held the lead and rounded X in first and bore off and was fortunate to take the last of the now dying wind to the Salcombe shore. The chasing pack rounded X and stopped and bunched up as they tried to punch the tide. The pack reshuffled, classic snakes and ladders, and during this scuffle to find what little wind there was, the leaders were rolled by the peloton.
The big winners were Bruce Hattersley and Mike Hodges with Dobson and Gavin Stevens losing out, so they gybed and headed off to the Portlemouth shore to try and find clear air with the rest of the fleet running out of the tide down on the Salcombe side.
The breeze increased as the fleet went down the harbour, so the rich got richer, thus Cleaves increased his lead and once he rounded Mark one with the aid of the tide now underneath him, his lead doubled. By this time the Race Officer had seen enough, and raised the S flag, thus Cleaves took the race,
Bruce Hattersly sailed a good run to Mark one, taking a detour past the crab store pots, and took second, with Dan Bridger third.
By Chris Cleaves
Photos By Lucy Burn