Scorpion (& Jellyfish) Southerns @ Sidmouth

It started in controversy and ended in sunshine, breeze and great racing… But let’s start with the (albeit very minor) controversy…

It’s generally accepted that keeping the race officer on side is a good policy to have at an event so starting a general mutiny about the start time on the Saturday probably wasn’t going to be the best policy. Some people however couldn’t resist and the fact that those were the only 2 boats black flagged all weekend may or may not have been a coincidence. Still, thanks to a mutiny, the power of facebook and an open minded race officer (no doubt contemplating all the Doombar he had been promised in recompense) the start time was pushed back and everyone got to enjoy a bit longer in bed before the fleet descended on Sidmouth for the bank holiday weekend.

As it was the start time made no difference at all, we turned up to a flat calm and after a couple hours of catching up and bimbling the decision was made that it wasn’t looking good and we should find other entertainment for the day. Of course this meant the wind came in about an hour later but by then everyone was enjoying picnics, pasties and pints in the sunshine and it seemed a minor inconvenience to be stuck ashore.

Day 2 and everyone was eager to go sailing, we had wind, we had water, all set. We launched into a light south westerly which unfortunately turned into a very light south westerly and then turned off altogether just after the start. Oli Wells & Rach Rhodes (2036) were drifting the quickest but by then everyone was more interested in the massive jellyfish which were making significantly better progress than the fleet as Amy Forbes video will testify to (search National Scorpion Association on facebook). Wisely everyone headed in for more pasties and picnics but this time the fleet had learnt a lesson and decided to wait a little while. Half an hour later and back came the wind and it was finally go time.

Pete Gray & Rich Pepperdine (2022) were first out the blocks with Oli & Rach, Ryan Buchanan & Alex Hayman (2028) and Tom Jeffcoate & Simon Forbes (2037) in close pursuit. Spinnaker sheet issues dropped Oli & Rach briefly back as Pete & Rich took the win from Ryan & Alex. Janet & Alan Ritchie (2005) started where they meant to carry on rounding out the top 5. Race 2 and a left shift meant that Ryan & Alex, Pete & Rich and Tom & Simon made an early break for the front with Pete & Rich getting some extra pressure on the 2nd beat to get the lead and another win while Tom & Simon took advantage of Ryan (or Alex) forgetting to put the board down on the last little beat to the line to sneak 2nd. Behind these 3 the initial charge was led by Simon Holden & Cara Jongs (1936) before Oli & Rach and Janet & Alan managed to pull through to take 4th and 5th.

That evening a big curry meant that no one was really in the mood for Carina’s which was probably just as well as Monday dawned with wind and a race officer saying we were just going to race until people didn’t want to – a nice pragmatic approach rather than a regimented schedule. It worked too, the breeze built, the sun was back out to play and although the wind was off the cliffs the shifts were lasting long enough for some people to work them out. By some people I mean Pete & Rich who carried on their dominant form with victory in 3 of the 4 races. Behind them the race was on for 2nd which Ryan and Alex looked determined to take with 2nd place in the first 2 races of the day

before opening the door to Tom & Simon and Barry Wolfenden & Catherine Maguire (2024) with a poor penultimate race. The door was quickly slammed shut however with victory in the final race leaving those 2 teams to settle for 3rd and 4th overall following some consistent results. 2nd in the final race was enough for 5th overall for Oli & Rach ahead of Janet & Alan who were only denied a clean sweep of 5th place race finishes by a broken kicker in the final race (naturally they were in 5th place when it went).

Unfortunately Janet & Alan weren’t the only boat to suffer, the increased breeze meant we could now easily outpace the jellyfish, slightly inconsiderately though they didn’t always take this as a hint to get out of the way and instead decided to loiter around just below the surface. Most people took evasive action but Jo Mahy and Ian Dooley (2015) managed to hit a large jellyfish with such force it broke the rudder. Mind you, we didn’t see as many jellyfish in the last race so maybe that was the lesson they needed…

Thanks to Sidmouth for being such great hosts, and RO John Keast and his team for getting in 6 good races despite the fickle wind on 2 days. Don’t forget, the early entry discount for the nationals ends on 1st June, numbers are already over 40 and more are known to be coming so best to get it sorted now. Next up is the trip to Llandudno on the 13th and 14th June, facebook debate over start times will no doubt start soon!

Tom Jeffcoate