After recent weeks of cold and ice it was fantastic to see the 21 skippers entered for this event turn up at Scotland farm, welcomed by the smell of Chef Micks Bacon Butties, and the sound of Tim Hand (PRO) in the boat setting a course parallel to the control area. Although the breeze was welcome it did bring a chill with it, but matched to a rising sun and clear skies no one was going to complain. The first Midland District IOM event of the year is always a chance to catch up with friends and meet the new members to the fleet, 2023 looked to be no different, new skippers chatting to old hands and our very welcome visitors from other districts all swapping stories and advice waiting for Tim to call everyone to order.
Filled with breakfast, Tim outlined the aims of the day and the importance of everyone enjoying themselves, fun and fairness being the words of the day.
The single fleet got underway on time sporting their largest A Rigs and with shifts and gusts in the wind making the early racing on the simple windward – leeward course difficult to predict. (It is a superb sight to see 20+ boats sailing together, and still makes me wonder why more skippers don’t attend these race days.)
The large fleet was enjoyable for most, but a challenge for those who were new to so many boats on the start line, however everyone soon learned of the need for a clean start, the course setting meant that the position on the start line was less important than clean air and the ability to tack when wanted and escape the bad wind of the boats around you. All day the choice of route up the beat and buoy to round on the leeward gate gave alternating chances throughout the fleet and plenty of opportunity to gain or lose. There was a minimum amount of “discussion” during the day, good clean racing being the quickest way around the course.
As the morning passed, the breeze built and swung enough for many to consider dropping down a rig, this swing kept Tim busy as he nudged the course round to follow the breeze with eyesight being tested by lunchtime. Lunch was taken during which the breeze continued to build and its direction changed enough for the course to be reset 90 degrees and the South Bank to be used.
A quick change by almost all of the fleet whilst the course was changed didn’t delay things and the afternoons racing started promptly with the breeze and shifts continuing to make the racing fun and challenging. A quick coffee break mid-afternoon coincided with a lull in the wind, many chose to change rigs, but some decided to stay with their B rigs. Those who changed up were rewarded as the breeze dropped to mid A rig conditions and the smaller rigged boats were left behind on the downwind legs.
Tim kept the racing going at a pleasant pace, and in doing so made the event an enjoyable day for all the competitors. There were a few who didn’t make the end due to boat breakages but the prize giving was attended by a large part of the fleet and all agreed it had been a good day, most looking forward to renewing their battles at the next round at Bournville on the 12th Feb. (Entry open on the MYA online calendar)
Results are below but , although the reason for attending is to race so we had better acknowledge some of the successes.
Darin (98) – 4 wins
Nigel (54) – 2 wins
Rob W (97) – 1 win
Mick C (46) – 2 wins
Peter W (65) – 1 win (Although he found every way in which to avoid more wins)
Dave R (57) – 1 win
John S (43) – 1 win
John B (35) – 1 win
Studying the scores will show that everyone barring new comer Denis Walker had at least one top 10 finish, and even Denis, competing in his 1st race day had great fun, so I think we can call the Midland District Winter Series opener for 2023 a success.
Thanks as always to all those at the host club who gave up their day to help out, or their sailing for the day to allow us to enjoy ourselves, especially, Tim Hand, Jen Hand, Peter Hellen, Colin Helliwell, and many others.
See you at the next event Bourneville on the 12th February