Traveller, Halifax Sailing Club 8-9 July 2006

0903 08/07/06 The phone rings while I am loading up the car with sailing & bar-b-q gear. "Morning, it’s Erling, when does your club open?" Now that’s keen, all the way from the Isle of Wight & banging on the gate four hours before the first gun! Erling had already shared a brew with Kevin Parvin from Penmaenmawr SC by then. When I get to the club at about 0930 our Commodore & OD, Walter Hodgson, has opened up, but no sign of said sailors or boats, have they got to the right reservoir? Five minutes later they trundle round the corner, back along the road which overlooks the club – just went to see what the water looked like from a birds eye view!

Over the next few hours the locals turn up; everyone is more local than Erling, even George Stephen from Queen Mary! The day is bright but overcast with around 12 mph breeze, gusting & swinging between W & SW. All the races are sailed with beats & runs across the short dimension of the water & the best reach fortunately being the longest possible leg on the water. The starts were all port biased, the amount depending on how much the wind had swung during the last few minutes, so the OD took a pragmatic view to get the races started rather than keep the fleet hanging around while they adjust the line.

Race one and most of the fleet start on starboard, with a few chancers trying port flyers & generally failing to get through the line of boats. The first mark is a melee of boats, with at least half the fleet overstanding on the starboard tack start (mostly because they had no option but to wait until the fleet tacked) & reaching in on port, trying to squeeze in where there is little room. There were quite a few near misses, including Paul Smith who couldn't get in & was forced by the two up, local boat of Mike & Tim Woodman to gybe round & re-take the mark. At the end of the first lap it was Bob Carter closely followed by Dave Walker, who was having a great race until he missed the gate & had to go back. Smith & Charles Watson started the second leg at the back of the fleet, but worked their way steadily forward to take the line in the order Smith, Watson, Carter. The first race produced the only swimmer of the weekend, Kevin Parvin taking two short duckings.

Race two had more port starters, with Watson making a bad error of judgement & causing George Oxley to T-bone Watson – not good for the team Halifax results!! Again Smith & Watson ended up at the back of the pack in another first mark tussle. Parvin came out of the first mark well, as did the Woodmans but Homberg & Stephen overhauled both, leaving Steve Tunnacliffe to squeeze infront of Parvin & offering up thanks to messrs Gaul & Dewhirst for good advice in the Teach-in the month before. Line honours were taken by Smith, having taken Carter on the last lap, Watson squeezing Stephen out in the last lap also.

After a shore break a slightly amended course was set for race three, the wind having backed slightly. The first beat was slightly longer & resulted in a less stressful rounding for all. Smith & Carter dashed off into the distance leaving Homberg to take third courtesy of a great decision to take the starboard side up one beat, overhauling Watson & putting 200yds of water between them, which Watson couldn’t close down fully.

The fleet came ashore & the Bar-B-Qs fired up, Tunnacliffe & Woodman Jnr doing sterling work in the rain to feed the fleet two or three times over. Erling found that Yorkshire isn't the land of the midnight sun, as he had thought; especially when the generator ran out of petrol & the travellers were unceremoniously plunged into darkness & thus forced to retire to their wind & rain swept boudoirs.

On Sunday the solid force four, gusting viciously resulted in Smith, Parvin & Ray Gall thinking better of it & spectating. Full marks to Gall for an excellent role as launch & recovery master for the fleet.

Race four started well with many boats right on the line. Carter had a good start at the port end, but Watson just managed to lay the mark & sneak ahead, with Robin Boardman chasing. Carter went the wrong way up the next beat, leaving Watson & Boardman clear until Watson's UJ broke & forced a retirement. In the middle of the fleet Andrew Addison made a great improvement having listened intently to off the water Pro-Am advice from Carter. Boardman sailed well & hard to keep Homberg (benefiting from a slightly larger frame!) & Carter at bay, line honours being taken in that order.

For the final race Watson got a good mid-line start (thanks Kevin for the loan of the tiller extension), with Boardman & Carter to leeward. Watson managed to tack ahead of the chasing starboard tack boats & got cleanly around the first mark & building up a good lead, which was not intensely challenged by the (mostly) lighter helms in what were becoming very tough conditions, both in the average wind strength & the ferocity of the gusts. Carter took second, and Holmberg snatched third from Boardman after a duel at the last leeward mark after luffing beyond the mark and then taking a quick double gybe to round the mark as windward boat. Everyone was relishing the blast around the course, even if their bodies were complaining somewhat.

The fleet packed up in driving rain & retired for a well earnt lunch.

Overall Results
1st R Carter Grafham 9 pts
2nd C Watson Halifax 10 pts
3rd E Holmberg Shanklin 12 pts
4th G Stephen Queen Mary 14 pts
5th P Smith Beaver 17 pts

Windsport-Catpart Vouchers: £15 R Boardman; £10 K Parvin; £5 G Oxley

Thanks go out to Halifax Club Members for their efforts on & off the water & to the competitors for a good weekend’s racing.

For the full results, click here.