Scorpion Open 2014 @ Elton
The rolling Lancashire mist greeted three traveling Scorpions to Elton reservoir in the hills surrounding Bury. Unfortunately due to various boats still being with boat builders after the Nationals in Teignmouth no home boats were present.
Race One was started in a light shifty breeze with Steve Walker & Jerry Hannabuss (2030 Pennine SC) and Rich Jones & Carl Jones (2029 Shotwick Lake) choosing the left side of the course and Paul Newman & John Purdie (1681 Shotwick Lake, a boat that is only a few years off its 40th birthday!!) choosing the right side up the first beat. When the fleet converged at the windward mark, Paul & John managed to split the other Scorpions with Steve & Jerry getting arriving first. The three boats spread out with Steve & Jerry taking the lead, Paul & John managing to stay in arms reach and Rich & Carl hindered by twin pole issues as well as the lighter winds dropping back. This is the way it stayed until the last beat up to a windward finish line. Steve & Jerry rounded first choosing the left side of the course, Paul & John in a not too distant second and with nothing to lose choosing right. Mid way up the beat a bit more breeze noticeably came through over the dam for the right hand side and lifted. Picking up Paul & John and bringing them into contention for a well worked win. Both boats crossed the line together with the finishing signal almost a single tone. Steve & Jerry had held it together to take the win by inches. Paul & John 2nd and Rich & Carl 3rd
After lunch (a few sausage and egg muffins as they are in Lancashire (not baps, rolls, buns etc etc…..)
Race Two got under way with more of the same wind wise. The three boats spread across the line with Steve & Jerry choosing the right, Rich & Carl the left and Paul & John splitting them. Crossing the line Steve & Jerry main halliard gave way, dropping the main sail and boom onto the cockpit floor allowing the other two Scorpion to get away up the first beat. At the first windward mark it was Rich & Carl taking the lead with Paul & John in close pursuit and Steve & Jerry having to capsize their boat to tie the main to the top of the mast. Managing to do this is little time crossing the start line a short leg and a half behind and with the bit between their teeth. The two Shotwick Lake boats were battling with the breeze now at borderline planing strength but Steve & Jerry now making good time, catching up. By the start of the last lap the breeze had dropped off again, Rich & Carl who had dropped back a bit from Paul & John, Whiffler’s (Scorpion 1681) older hull shape proving ideal for the changeable conditions. Steve & Jerry quickly caught and despite a valiant attempt to defend their position overcame Rich & Carl, setting there sites on Paul & John further up the course. Drawing closer on the final fetch across the lake, Paul & John having position on the final gybe mark and then again holding on until the bottom mark after which Steve & Jerry pushed through. Both crews chose the middle track climbing back up to the finish line, Paul & John not content with allowing the winners of the Ancient Mariner at this year’s UK National Championships an easy ride to the finish attempted to fight back forcing Steve & Jerry into a tacking match up the last beat. However this was forlorn, Steve & Jerry showing the form that have won them many an open over the past decades, carrying more speed out of each tack to take the line by a length or two from Paul & John and thus winning the Open with a Race to spare. Rich & Carl finished in a not too distant third.
Race Three commenced in what seemed like a building breeze. Steve & Jerry lead out up the first beat with a bad start from Paul & John allowing Carl & Rich, (who had by now swapped responsibilities) to take the lead in chasing down the leaders. The status quo continued with neither boat losing touch undil the first hoist where 2029 was again blighted by twin pole issues. This time the pole not cleating properly and flying back like and finding its target as often happens with the elasticated retrieval method on the current system. Carl was caught bang between the eyes with a sickening thud heard by the rest of the fleet. This forced their retirement allowing Paul & John into a unsatisfying second place and confirming second place over all. Steve & Jerry saw out the rest of the race in first with Paul & John in second but never loosing contact.
Congratulations to Steve Walker & Jerry Hannabuss on a well-deserved win, and a mention to Whiffler the boat sailed by Paul & John proving that an older boat in good condition can still be competitive when conditions suit.
Thankyou to the Organisers, Galley Staff and Members at Elton Sailing Club, we hope to see you again next year. This time hopefully with more boats conditions allowing