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All Shapes and Sizes Lead on Saturday
21 Contenders arrived at Weston SC for the annual open meeting with a light NE forecast for Saturday and a little more for Sunday. The fleet was boosted by the arrival of new faces and the welcome return of Nick Noble after a few years messing about on bikes. New to the open meeting circuit were Peter & Simon from Neyland YC in South Wales and Keith who came all the way from Guernsey!
Saturdays light and shifty races were won by two very different sailors in close tactical racing. Mike Murley at just 72kg won the first race with Keith Paul, also from Weston SC, coming in second. The second race was lead at the windward mark by 103kg Tony Cook from Downs SC. On the light wind run with a bunch right on Tony’s transom he suddenly roared “Come on you skinny chaps (edited)”. It worked, or were we all dazed by the confusion and  Tom’s language at the gybe mark?), as Tony sailed away to a clear win, with Murley taking a lucky second as Chris Walker from Staunton Harold missed the finish mark despite being clear ahead.
Race 3 for the day was cancelled in the dying wind, increasing tide and lack of water at the club, so we repaired to the bar.
 
After a night of ‘ games and silliness’ (the words on the noticeboard, not mine, but apt enough) provided by the ever hospitable Weston Sailing Club,  comprising of micro scalextrix racing, throw the Frisbee over the bottle, throw a Frisbee at each other and general curry eating and beer drinking and even a birthday cake, candles and a box of chocolates for the contender birthday boy, Tony white, provided by the club (thanks 50 North for the £1 a pint,  what were you thinking, Contenders and Hornets and only 2 barrels! maybe an extra barrel next year? but seriously, thank you Toby and Dawn).  so we all went to bed full, happy and hopeful with the improved forecast for the Sunday.
 
Sunday sailing Shifts gusts and swims.
The wind sort of appeared out by the committee boat, but with North Easterlies at Weston the beats were always going to be tricky, shifty and gusty,  and with the top Mark under the old Abbey, under the trees, the beat did or didn’t fail to disappoint. Rob Angus kindly agreed to step in for Mike Murley, the overnight leader as Mike was off to Reading to drop his kids at Uni, maybe the pressure of the open was too much as I'm sure he could have got out of the trip if he'd tried...anyway, nice to see Rob albeit briefly as, after a good showing in race 3 I noticed him looking confused drifting around the windward mark looking at his rudder and was never seen again....
 
The plan was for us to get an early start at 9:30 and then have time to move the marks about for the whole club to join in Bart’s Bash with us at 11.  First race got underway pretty cleanly with the pin favoured and Gary Langdown was off and away, I’m not sure what happened with the front of the fleet after a windward dunking when my mainsheet cleat let go, but as ususal there was close racing wherever you were in the fleet. The finishing order was Langdown, Mussel and Frary.
The 2nd race on the Sunday and the rest of Weston Sailing Club (73 boats in total) came out to play, the windward mark was moved in front of the club with a spreader and a run to the bottom mark. The start got away cleanly, much to my surprise (also surprised at how aggressive the 200 fleet were up at the committee boat end!) with the gusty and now stronger but equally shifty wind, the beats were interesting and even made more interesting by some yachts out for a cruise who felt the need to sail through the fleet too, obviously 73 dinghies aren’t easy to spot, still they only destroyed one dart so I guess that’s not too bad. Once the fleet had spread out it was still interesting with different gyning angles and boats still beating or coming around for another lap, so with all that going on I’m not sure what happened up the front again, Simon and Nick (nice to see you back Mr Noble) took me on the last deep reach to the line (school boy error, but I thought I could get planning to the further end of the line as opposed to almost running….turns out I was wrong, schoolboy error, so results for race 4 were Tommy Hooton, Martin Frary and Gary Langdown.
Race 5 got underway after an inordinate wait to get the marks back where they were and originally and the pin was favoured again, so much so, some tried a port end flyer only to be foiled by the fleet who were pushing the pin on Starboard, with the course pretty much square at the start, the fleet split left and right in an effort to stay offshore as long as possible and avoid the lighter shifter stuff inshore at the top mark. it seemed pretty even either side (in previous races gusts had appeared from nowhere either side and favoured one side or the other) Tom and I were well right and Tom didn't think it was paying, my cleat let go again, but it looked like he got a nice lift all the way up to the mark to be in the front of the fleet. I noticed several other people getting caught in the shifts with noticeable windward dunkings or knockdowns for Simon and Keith (neither of them used to getting wet above the ankles). there were some gusts and changes amongst the fleet, we even got some 2 foot reaching in for a bit so all strengths of wind were thrown at us from most angles throughout the weekend, the result of the final race was Frary, Rodger white and Tom Hooton.
 
Which made the overall results Martin Frary, Gary Langdown and Tom Hooton, your scribe having the honour of 4th and the report writing duty thereby attached.
 
Overall a great weekend of sailing, what other class or venue can provide laser like close racing in the light stuff and upwind planning and exciting 2 foot reaching all in one weekend and for all shapes and sizes too?

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