Harken Solo Inland Championship at Rutland

Jo Catterall - National Solo Class Association

I've been asked to step in and write a Solo report for the Inland Championship, sponsored by Harken. Being new to this and not a sailor please accept my apologies now if the report is not quite as expected!

So, whilst the day dawned bright and fair it's hard to believe that sat here writing this I'm listening to the thunder and torrential downpours that have ensued throughout the day.

There were 73 boats in the park so as you can imagine plenty of "boat chat" going on, tactics been discussed, which sail to use and where the rig should be, (I believe that just about sums up the average boat park chat?).

I was privileged enough to be invited out on the judges rib to take some photos of the fleet in the absence of Class President Will Loy. Not being a sailor and about 5'4" Mark Lee, who had arrived directly from Holland (where he had won the spoils and is the new Champion) kindly lent me his waterproof trousers. I would think he is nearly 6 foot! The club sorted the life vest, which was colour coordinated, and so I set out in what I anticipate will be a new fashion trend for the fleet!

Boarding the rib Steve Watson the "on water jury" clearly saw I was not experienced, offering his hand so I did not collapse in a heap and off we set. After a few issues trying to keep the judges flag up, Steve suggested I had a go tying it up with the red rope and in doing so pulled this plug thing out of the boat and the water poured in! Fortunately I was of the mind to realise it was wrong and shoved it back in very quickly! Steve hadn't realised the rope he wanted me to use was attached to the plug! He had a wry laugh out loud, I think his thoughts when giving his instructions were along the lines of 'stupid woman!... until he realised his error.

I would urge anyone with the chance to go out with our judge should. He was very considerate & I learnt a lot!

As we sat with the fleet before the first race it was clear that there was a squall about to descend. Never mind hurricane Irma this was hurricane Rutland. I quickly took some pictures and then got my phone away, hood up & waited for it to hit. A couple of boats headed for the sanctuary of the beach meanwhile as my photos show Chris Brown was seen praying and Steve Ede looking up for divine intervention! Religious lot this Solo Committee! The rescue crew bobbed over to ask "what's the associations policy regarding lightening". Wow I'd thought I was just on a little jaunt till then. After a ten minute abandonment, rain pounding down on us, the start sequence commenced. How anyone could see what they were doing was impressive! And they were off, first time too, quite unusual for our guys, perhaps they were worried about been heckled!

Race 1  Mike Sims led from start to finish but not without a fight, the Burwain boys Innes Armstrong and Stephen Graham were in the mix chasing hard as was Mr Lee but to be fair Sims was well away. However a great sail by Taxi from way back saw him move supremely into second.

Results were 1st Sims, 2nd Taxi, 3rd Armstrong. I'm sorry if I've missed anyone who was in the mix out, you must realise I'm a SWAG (sailing wives and girlfriends) so normally see this from dry land!

As Race 1 finished I was whisked back to shore to join the SWAGs, walk the dog, as the next squall was on its way in.

Race 2  Delayed as the wind fluctuated 30 degrees finally started with a port end bias. Can you tell a sailor has helped me with this? Thank you Mr Fisher. During the race the wind backed to make the beat a single tack leg. Martin Honnor commented "slightly biased beat which I benefitted from", 4th round the windward mark.

The sailing was very exciting - 1st Taxi, 2nd Armstrong (he's from Burwain don't you know) 3rd the Irish God Shane MacCarthy.

Race 3  Race 3 preceded by another huge thunderstorm, rain and hail hit the course which had to be rejigged as the wind backed again, many commented to me it that it was a hard day for Race Officer.

1st Sims, his second bullet, 2nd, Olli Wells who finally made an effort! however, the sail of the day sits with Mitchell (veteran - love you Dave) finishing 3rd. As quoted "not bad for an old bloke "

The leaders are; 1st Taxi, 2nd Sims, 3rd Honnor.

So all to play for tomorrow. As for the judge, not too busy in the first, a couple of infringements but only politely pointed out to the folks that didn't do turns for hitting the mark or other competitors (naughty! you know who you are) but all in all I think everyone had a good day. Certainly the wine and beer hit the spot!

Team McLube's Andy Davis at the 2017 Harken Solo Inlands © Will Loy

Day 2


Awoken today to the shout of "come on breeze" by Hopwood, who was hoping for a much improved start to the racing, being of a slightly challenging weight for this dinghy, the light breezes don't suit. But as I looked out a few leaves gently fluttered down into the car park signalling the start of Autumn & perhaps it was not breezy enough.

I'm sure all the lightweights skipped out of bed when they realised that, for now anyway, the weather was being kind. Ever the optimist Hopwood duly informed me it would build as the day went by.

There weren't too many fuzzy heads this morning, only a small hardcore element led by Denison & Winder had remained in the bar after 10 o'clock. Everyone else it seemed was heading for some Ibruprofen, with no rocking required following the first day's events, to get some well earned rest! I'm informed by our resident barman that the night descended into some friendly banter and rugby songs (really!) but that all were well behaved.

Seeking inspiration for today's report I took the dog on the lovely walk to Normanton Church and beyond. Note to self; get a lottery ticket, the houses adjacent to the club are stunning and leave me wondering who lives in a house like this? Me if I win!

For those of you who have not been lucky enough to visit this part of the world I urge you to do so. Sailors can happily bring their families, safe in the knowledge that there is plenty to do for them while they are on the water. Dogs are not allowed at the club but are welcomed at the camp ground across the lane along with well behaved children. Canines are also welcome in the village pub (The Wheatsheaf) and the walks round the area are great. Lots to see and do, bikes can be hired locally and the track around the water is shared by cyclists, walkers, runners etc. Take cash with you as there are cafes & ice cream stops along the way. Anyone seeking a bed for the night, the club has rooms, numerous B&B's locally, even a Best Western Hotel around 10 minutes away.

Back to the racing, as I neared the damn end it was obvious, even to a non-sailor like me, that the wind had changed along with the course. The field were strung out and sailing looked fun as they rounded the buoy at the windward mark.

It looked like there were a few obstacles to contend with from where I stood. A posse of canoes appeared to go through the fleet and the Rutland Belle Leisure Cruiser was sailing.

Race 4  It took a little while to get started, but when the wind came it made for a hard day's sailing. It built steadily throughout the day, even in the first race. John Brooker, new to the fleet, found the first beat a bit too fruity to handle having had a great day yesterday. Still I believe he had enjoyed himself and hopefully we will see him next time.

Brownie had a good day, being first to the first mark and every race thereafter was 'his weather', a comment agreed with by Mr Fisher. Soon overtaken by Davis who won but Brownie held a good second with Davenport third.

Race 5  Honnor had a difficult day following yesterday's results. He said there was more wind, gusty, shifty and got to windward mark sixth and went backwards thereafter... Some of the guys were sailing really well and just depended on which shift you picked. Clearly the beer helped as Winder took the spoils, followed by Lovering and Lee.

Race 6  Interviewing sailors as they came off the water, the general consensus of the fleet was that it was hard work today. All should be ashamed as Septimus sailor John Webster told me he had had a fantastic day as the wind was up and finished well. Hamilton felt that breakfast was the highlight of his day! Others looked weary, Dennison had been talking to the fish and was not the only one I hear!

Oil Wells (not my typo - check the results list) went in just before the start and called it a day after capsizing again during a gybe. So youth came to the fore with Davenport winning, Winder still in the mix with a 2nd and Taxi sealing the overall win with a 3rd. Shouldn't go without mentioning Sims who had a consistent day to be 2nd overall.

So after a valiant battle the winners are:

  • 1st Andy Davis (taxi), 2nd Mike Sims, 3rd Dave Winder.
  • Lady: Sue Taylor
  • Junior: Oliver Davenport
  • Veteran: Martin Honnor
  • Grand Master: Malcolm Buchanan
  • Septimus: John Webster

A great big thank you to Harken for sponsoring the event and to Rutland for hosting. I'm already looking forward to returning next year.





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