Whilst the majority of the fleet arrived on Friday night –in order to sample the ambiance of the place, Some chose to bat off a steadier wicket, indeed competitors were arriving and still rigging as the first boats left the slip.
The first day of the open, Saturday, was sunny with a F1/F2 southerly wind which increased the importance of the tide in everyone’s race plan as it was ebbing strongly throughout both races.
Following a general recall and the subsequent deployment of the black flag, the fleet got away sticking firmly to the middle two thirds of the estuary, with a few venturing over to town side in the latter part of the beat, but the hugely tactical cat and mouse runs down from Blackstone to The Bag split the fleet, with some hugging the Portlemouth shore and some cutting across to Snapes and reaching up to Bouy Three from there at very hot angles, The course suited Matt Biggs and Ben Hollis who won the first race, despite a strong challenge from Olympic hopeful Stu Bithell crewed by Sophie Weg (who were second) and Parkstone YC heroes Jon Gorringe and Toby Lewis who sailed hard to come third.
Bithell/Weg were warming to their theme however, as they took the second race win in fine style.The OD clearly wanted to test the fleets light air ability, sending them through the Bag up to Buoy seven (Gerston), for a long and testing beat home to the line. Ian Dobson and Andy Tunniclife were starting to get into gear coming second with Jon Gorringe a consistent third.
Sunday was a very different day. A gusty, shifty F3/4 easterly wind meant for some aggressive starting and a difficult beat up to Yarlton (Buoy 4) followed by a fetch up to seven and an exciting run up to Blackstone. Dobson/Tunnicliffe revelled in the conditions winning from Bithell/Weg with Gorringe/Lewis third again…
By race four the wind in the estuary had built significantly and the Gerston reach which had seemed so demanding the previous day had become the thing sailing dreams are made from, with ecstatic sailors planing end to end in clouds of spray. Ian Dobson kept his cool to win, giving Andy and he the overall win, and amateur sailor Mike Calvert, who with new crew Ian Garwood, had been sailing just outside the chocolates all weekend finally showed some form to come second, with Matt Biggs and Ben Hollis mounting the podium in third which meant that the Blithfield duo were third overall, with Stuart Bithell and Sophie Weg second.
Report; B Archer