Report by Dennis Dear
The Marconi Sailing Club Solo Open Meeting on the River Blackwater, Steeple, Essex was held on Sunday 7th September when twenty Solo helms signed on. These included five from the host club and four from Fishers Green SC. Burnham SC, Royal Harwich SC and seven other clubs were also represented and warmly welcomed to the event.
The pre-race briefing was held in the club house when the course was described as a triangle followed by a sausage and the position of the buoys was highlighted. High tide was given as 11:45 and 5-8 knot winds were forecast with a committee boat start. Each race would be three laps with shortening of the course a high possibility. The scene was then set for races mid-river between the Steeple shore of the Blackwater and Osea Island.
There was great enthusiasm in the fleet, dinghies bunched together racing for the line as the count down concluded and the hooter sounded. As a great number of boats were over the line, too many to distinguish, a general recall was sounded. While the fleet was regrouping and the countdown restarted rain lashed down but dinghies sped off in a clean start into the first triangle of the course.
The boats gybed at the leeward mark and then passed through the start gate with Ewan Birkin-Walls leading Steve Ede and Mark Maskell. The weather improved, although there was mist and cloud but the rain had stopped. At the end of the first lap Steve Ede had taken the lead from Ewan Birkin-Walls and Chris Mayhew moved from fifth to third place. Committee boat members shouted encouragement to Marconi sailors: John Salmon (Fleet Captain), Roger Smith, Mike Taylor, Brian Spencer and Gerry Kamstra.
Towards the end of the second triangle the shortened course procedure was initiated. The leading two boats crossed the line within a hair’s breadth of each other with the third boat only just behind. The order had changed again, Steve Ede first, Mark Maskell second and Ewan Birkin-Walls third.
Now the tide was ebbing fast so the leeward mark was repositioned closer to the committee start boat. The course was the same. This time it was a very clean start. There was close racing at the front of the fleet, first and second had changed places to give Steve Ede the lead at the end of the first lap. Some skilful boat handling and buoy rounding saw the first four boats pull away from the rest of the fleet. With the course shortened to two laps, at the end of the race, Ewan Birkin-Walls finished first, a good distance from Steve Ede, who was second, closely followed by Mark Maskell in third.
Due to the light airs it was decided to run the third race without going ashore for lunch but it was now sunny. The tide continued to run out strongly and to accommodate the low water the buoys and the committee boat were moved.
The race was about to start, with the countdown under way, when it was decided to postpone as not only was there no wind but most of the fleet were too far away from the start line. Although this was frustrating the boats floated calmly while the helms chatted.
When a light breeze eventually blew it was fluky in direction which necessitated moving the buoys yet again. A new course was set and sixteen boats were at the start line. Unfortunately, like race one, many were over the line causing another general recall. The countdown sequence commenced immediately with a clean start but after a while with continuing lights air several boats turned for the club house.
The course was then shortened to one triangle. Steve Ede won by a good margin followed by Mark Maskell and Chris Mayhew. The fleet were strung out and those crossing the line at the rear were given encouragement to persevere for the last few tacks by those on the committee boat. These steadfast helms included Marconi Fleet Captain, John Salmon, Peter Playle, ex-Marconi SC, and Phil Sturmer, Burnham SC.
The Commodore, Michaele Dowley, thanked Jenny Ball for carrying out the duties of Race Officer and presented her with a bottle of wine. The Commodore then presented the prizes for the Open Meeting. The winner was Steve Ede from Ardleigh SC, second was Ewan Birkin-Walls from Hunts SC and in third was Mark Maskell from Blackwater SC.
The Marconi Sailing Club is a friendly, well established sailing club, where dinghies can launch at any state of the tide. New members are always welcome to join Marconi where there is competitive racing but also the opportunity to sail your own dinghy at your own pace in the beautiful setting of the river Blackwater.
|Pos||Helm||Club||Sail No||R1||R2||R3||Total Points|
|1||Steve Ede||Ardleigh SC||5225||1||2||1||2|
|2||Ewan Birkin‑Walls||Hunts SC||5545||3||1||RTD||4|
|3||Mark Maskell||Blackwater SC||5455||2||3||2||4|
|4||Chris Mayhew||Royal Harwich SC||4921||4||5||3||7|
|5||Godfrey Clark||Fishers Green||5540||6||4||RTD||10|
|7||Patrick Overs||Paxton Lake SC||5138||9||7||5||12|
|9||David Walford||Fishers Green||5320||8||6||DNS||14|
|10||Peter Playle||Fishers Green||5241||11||18||7||18|
|11||Phil Sturmer||Royal Burnham SC||5373||10||19||8||18|
|12||John Sewell||WF YC||5544||13||18||6||19|
|14||Clair Clark||Fishers Green||5012||12||10||RTD||22|
|16||Derek Mayhew||Royal Harwich SC||5137||14||12||RTD||26|
|17||John Saddington||Rollesby Broad||4461||16||14||DNS||30|