Scorpion Open at Porthpean 2019
Glorious sunshine for this two day event. Flat seas and interesting wind conditions on Saturday and lighter but steadier winds but with an increasing sea chop on Sunday. Plus Cornish pasties, a great BBQ and a Tin Can Alley competition – what was there not to like?
The event was shared with the Tasar fleet which worked well on & off the water. Theirs was the first start and then we didn’t see them again until after the finish of each race. Having another fleet added to the competitive element to the games on Saturday evening!
Saturday saw two races over a P course and the wind was 10-15 knots NW which at Porthpean means off shore giving a wonderfully flat sea but occasional gusts and veers off the surrounding cliffs and bays.
The first start was delayed somewhat as the pasties were slow cooking (only in Cornwall!) but both pasties and races were worth waiting for. The starts for both races were clean to the extent of being line shy according to the Race Officer. Ellie Pegg & Stephen Jarman from Yealm YC sailing 2027 A La Carte led both races from start to finish. Jo Mahy & James Harcourt (2015 Touching the Void) from Sutton Bingham SC had a closer battle in Race 1 with local boat Just Dreaming (1900) helmed by Paul Beacon & crewed by Kelvin Kirkham with 2015 finishing 13 seconds in front of the Porthpean boat.
In the second race, Jo & James watched Ellie & Stephen fight with their spinnaker on the tight reaches so left theirs in the boat. A good decision that meant that they had pulled out sufficiently from Andrew Kendall & Peter Barnes of Porthpean (1889 Gate Crasher) not to hoist for the final run. Unfortunately Ellie & Stephen weren’t able to stay for Day 2 but two more local boats joined the fleet on Sunday morning.
Sunday’s races were Olympic style and consisted of four short back-to-back races. The sunshine continued but the wind was from the ESE 6-8 knots increasing during races 2 and 3 to 10 knots and then decreasing to 6 knots for the final race. The onshore wind meant a return of waves in the form of a short chop. Despite a swing from ESE to SE to SSE during the day, the courses were excellent. Both the reaches were spinnaker-able although tight. The course was tweaked in between races very rapidly with only a short delay (enough time to chomp some chocolate or fruit and slurp some water) before we were off again.
Race 3 saw newcomers to the fleet, 7a (1996 from Porthpean SC) sailed by Kay Ecclestone & Nigel Dowrick, decide to try a port hand flyer at the start which would have worked fine had they been anywhere near the start line at the gun. Gatecrasher was sailed by both Kendalls today with Jenny crewing and this husband & wife team were first to the windward mark. However, very unusually for Porthpean, there was a strong tide pushing into the mark and despite several short tacks in an attempt to clear it, they had to watch as the next 3 Scorpions sailed past. They never regained the place and Race 3 was won by Just Dreaming with Touching the Void in second and 7a in third.
Race 4 saw the wind increase so that, at least on the beats, the crews were able to sit on the side decks and occasionally the helm had to find the toe straps. Porthpean boats finished in the first three places with 7a leading from the first mark and finishing a minute in front of Just Dreaming who beat Gatecrasher by 5 seconds.
The slight increase in wind stayed throughout Race 5. The Kendalls in Gatecrasher kept the lead this time with 7a managing to keep just ahead of Touching the Void.
Another slight course tweak to ensure the beat was true, and we were off for our final race with the wind strength decreasing but the slight chop created by the earlier wind making for an interesting wave pattern on both beat and run. Kay & Nigel led from the windward mark but Jo & James were close behind and the final run was a tense, “at what point do we gybe?” followed by “who got that decision right?” which wasn’t obvious until the leeward mark was rounded with 7a hardening up just in front and then crossing the finish line 15 seconds ahead of Touching the Void.
The tired but happy fleet returned to shore for more pasties before packing up in the sunshine. A brilliant Open with thanks to everyone involved. Great final quote from Jo Mahy: “the club is great, members both friendly and helpful, racing well organised and the scenery is beautiful… what a top venue, will definitely come here again.”