Silver Scorpion Open @ Sidmouth

With the wind set for an exciting Saturday but drifting Sunday 15 scorpions appeared to tackle the challenges laid down by PRO John Keast.

It also being the weekend for Andy(Amy) Hayman to collect his bus pass spirits were high in more ways than one with the promise of Scones and Prosecco to top off Saturday’s racing.

Saturday gave us a superb force 4 with crews electing to rake between ½ and fully back – even the lightweights were enjoying the swell and looking for those waves to surf down. Race one and Tim Parsons with Mike Hannan powering away to take a relatively easy victory from Ryan Buchanan crewed by top boat tart Alex Hayman (if it has sails Alex will borrow it !) And for the rest of Saturday these two boats showed the rest of fleet what great speed they had though not without some mishaps – both boats took their turns at anchoring on the windward mark and Mike was seen to be berating himself for a poor tack that left 2014 full of water for the whole beat of race three. Meantime back in the fleet your author was enjoying a fantastic sail ably driven by Mrs Ritchie with a nip and tuck battle between three south east London boats (2005, 2019, 2024) who regularly seem to travel hundreds of miles to end up sailing within 10 feet of each other.

Further back in the fleet with Lucy Searle making her post motherhood return we also had Kevin Gosling testing one of his boats before handing back to the customer (Simon Holden) who was resigned to crewing for Kevin as Kevin appears unable to let go of a tiller and do some real work at the front.

Local Sidmouth boats were well represented with the svelte James Salter leading the charge ably crewed by Imogen Price.

With the promised scones and prosecco awaiting the fleet as they landed its surprising any sailors managed to eat their curry laid on from the local restaurant – perhaps overeating was the reason why the fleet felt the need to be on Ovaltine’s rather than Jagerbombs by 10pm or was it the three hard races that had ensued – either way Tims famous Disco Shirt was sadly unblemished come Sunday morning.

And so to day two with the wind looking light and shifty those who had struggled in the breeze were glad to see a less full on day of hiking, Ryan and Alex made sure that they continued where they left off with an easy win in race 4 of the event (no anchoring on the windward buoy this time but they were seen to be re-rounding the pin end as they were just too keen to get away – (it’s the Ovaltine I believe). Behind, John Clementson was in his element with shifts galore, John’s fellow Bough Beech sailors Baz and Linda Wolfenden followed Clemmy round to take a well deserved third. The sleep seemed to help out Ric and Lucy also as they found their light wind mojo and took fourth in this one.

Two more Sidmouth boats had found the start line and 17 boats were now competing – unfortunately in race 5 the shifts became a little one sided and with Ric and Lucy heading for France on a huge header the fleet were heard to suggest that’s Ric’s compass was broken however it wasn’t to be – with another shift and filling breeze 2023 showed the offshore skill that secured a class win in the fastnet and was minutes ahead at the first mark, a lead he wasn’t going to relinquish.

Meantime three other boats were also on the right side of the shift and 2028, 2005 and 2024 got away from the pack as the wind started dancing like Tim didn’t the previous night, – however another Ovaltine powered comeback from 2019 made it up to 5th from what looked like a hopeless case. PRO Keast was heard to remark that he saw the shift coming and was surprised the fleet had missed it !

And so to Race 6 – the wind settled down and was back to merely light and ……. – conditions 2019 revels in – and So John and Mel sneaked away from the fleet excepting 2028 who had already won but felt it necessary to win another race to really embarrass the fleet. With Janet now red bull powered she was closing fast on John but it wasn’t to be and yet another 3rd place for the yellow boat. Ric continued the Sunday comeback with 4th with other notable performances including swimming practice (again) for Gosling / Holden.

Though quiet on the Sunday Tim and Mike had done enough to maintain their 2nd place with 2 – 4th separated by two points.

Sensible race management with those new to the fleet doing a lap less than the so-called experts lead to rapid race turn arounds and 6 efficient races – if we can just have Saturday’s breeze at Looe in a month’s time …………We promise no early nights – honest.

Thanks to all at Sidmouth for their hospitality as always though special mention to Liz Hayman for Scones, Prosecco and Ovaltine dispensing.

Written By Alan Ritchie (#2005 Drama Queen)

John Purdie

John is a relative late comer to sailing and even later getting into sailing dinghies. Despite having a lifelong fascination with most things boat, his first sailing experience didn’t come until 1999 at the age of 17 when he spent two weeks aboard the 135′ 340 ton, STA Sir Winston Churchill, as part of the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award Scheme. Over the last 12 years John has logged more than 15,000 mainly blue water miles with various tall ships and as a volunteer with the Tall Ships Youth Trust (the modern day Sail Training Association) 72′ Challenger Fleet, crossing the Atlantic both ways and competing in the 2011 Rolex Fastnet. After floating around in other classes for a few years, John found the Scorpion in 2011 and has never looked back, competing (as crew) in the last two Nationals and regularly on the National Circuit. John is based just outside Chester, Cheshire.

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