Solo Open

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

It was with some concern when I looked out the window over a slightly damp, overcast and windless scene, early on Sunday morning. The forecast had promised far better conditions and I hoped they were correct.

Fortunately by the time the first visitors started arriving at Portchester things were looking much more appealing. The sun was out and a steady 10-12mph breeze was filling in from the west. A good turnout of 24 boats had made the trip for the second ever PSC, Hyde Sails sponsored, Solo open meeting, an increase from last years 20 boats.

The briefing was held at 11am by PRO Paul Oakey, where he explained that we would be sailing a triangle/sausage course, which would be shortened after approximately 45 minutes. It was at about this time that an early sea breeze started to fill in and as the fleet were launching the wind had picked up to a more challenging 18-20 mph. This slowly whittled the fleet down throughout the day with either boat breakage or human error.

A well-laid start line was set and saw a good spread of boats along the line. Last years winner James Ross took advantage of a slight mid line droop and trusted his transits to pop out in front of the boats around him and headed off to the left of the course.

By the windward mark Ross managed to come into the mark on Port and round in 1st place, Ray Collins in 2nd and local PSC hotshot Alex Davies, who was showing no lack of form having been away for a couple of months serving queen and country, in 3rd, with Alex Powell in 4th and Ivan Burden in 5th. Matt Humphries, a pre race favourite, had a troubled first beat and was back in the chasing pack but now had a determined look and was pushing hard.

After 2 fantastic reaches Nick Bonner showed great speed to move into 4th and reigning Southern area champion Martin Frary was moving through the fleet in 5th. By the finish gun Ross took a well deserved victory and set down a strong marked to the rest of the fleet that he meant business. Frary had sailed an excellent race to take 2nd and Bonner 3rd. A. Davies held off a charging Humphries for 4th and Humphries was 5th.

A quick turn around and the second start got away cleanly. Again Ross lead at the windward mark, this time with M Humphries hot on his heels. With some clear air between them and the chasing pack, they were able to ease away from the group and battle it out between themselves.

Whilst M. Humphries threw everything at Ross in an attempt to get past, Ross showed excellent form to control the race and crossed the line in 1st placed with M. Humphries in 2nd. Bonner took another well deserved 3rd place. Frary could only manage 4th and Powell battled back from a poor 1st beat to get 5th.

With 2 race wins Ross had won the event with a race to spare and had showed dominate form. Keen to take advantage for the champagne sailing conditions Ross stayed out but could he make it a clean sweep?

Again the 3rd race got away first time but this time it was Ivan Burden who looked set to take an early lead at the windward mark, unfortunately a wind shift meant a quick hitch was required to get around the mark and this resulted in him getting stuck in irons, on port, with the whole fleet descending down on him on starboard.

Ivan said he lost count of the number of calls of protest and the number of penalty turns he needed to do, so rather than try, he decided to call it a day and headed for home. During the commotion Ross had been able to sneak around his bow and take 1st place with Powell going around his stern for 2nd. Martin Frary was in 3rd. On the reach Martin was able to get water on Powell and moved into 2nd place, pushing hard to catch Ross.

Ross looked set to make it a clean sweep of wins but as he crossed the line he was met with silence....He had been over the line. This gifted the win the Frary with M Humphries 2nd, Ray Collins in 3rd, Powell in 4th and Nigel Thomas, sailing a great race in 5th.

So the day finished with Ross retaining the Portchester Horn Trophy and was able to "blow his trumpet" once again. Frary finished 1 point behind in 2nd and M. Humphries also one point behind in 3rd, who also secured 1st PSC boat. PSC boats demonstrated the great talent within the fleet with 5 boats finishing in the top 10. A big thank you to Hyde Sails for sponsoring the event and donating some great prizes.

After the racing, tired clubs sailors and visitors alike enjoyed sitting on the club balcony in the warm afternoon sun, beer in hand and swopped stories of an excellent days racing.

Hyde Sails Ltd, Harbour Building Office A, Hamble Point Marina, Hamble, Southampton SO31 4NB

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