Southport 2016: report by the junior Southport Team

Southport 2016: report by the junior Southport Team

Waiting our Turn

Following the exploits of the fantastic juniors this weekend, this is the report that we put together throughout the day. A few hair-raising moments to be sure, but a good day was had by all!

The day began around 6am for most of the team (5am for team manager Paul Young). The weather was cloudy and the wind was a light force two and expected to build throughout the day. The team assembled at 7am for a breakfast briefing and tactics discussion, and decided that Emma and Jared would be first up for Midland.

 

Emma and Jared were first boat into the starting box and got a good start, though slightly to leeward. They chose a good line and were the 4th boat out of twelve enterprises round the first mark, with no repeat of last year’s start line collision (much to relief of everyone on shore). They held on and were 5th by the end of the first lap. They kept up their initial success to have the 7th fastest time for first 2 laps in the under 18s and 10th fastest overall. On the 3rd lap reach the wind filled in from behind and they dropped a couple of places. Emma and Jared maintained a good average lap speed and managed the increasingly shifty conditions well to put the team in a good position for the upcoming changeover. The wind picked up in their final lap, with ominous clouds overhead and they even got the chance to do a bit of planing, before handing over to Southport first-timers Hannah and Will!

 

Hannah and Will jumped in just as the torrential rain started. Hannah initially struggled with her grip due to her cycling gloves, but they made steady progress up the beat. A sudden gust at the windward mark made the boat very unstable. The rudder started to come up which resulted in them doing a 720 turn. They made the decision to tack round the gybe mark to keep stable and coped well with the conditions. They were looking more confident at the start of their second lap. This time they successfully gybed around the gybe mark, however they were hit by a gust coming out of the gybe and capsized. They righted the boat and finished the lap before heading in, now in 23rd place. Youngest team member Will, age 7, came ashore beaming!

 

Graham and Joseph were up next, the squall had by now passed over and all those on shore were getting the sun cream out. For the first lap the emphasis was on bailing out as much water as possible. Their speed increased on their second and third laps, with Joseph sitting up more on the windward side. On the third lap they were sailing parallel with the race leaders down the back straight. They had a close call with mark C on lap four, fortunately just avoiding the penalty. The pair continued to improve as they went on and completed a full seven laps.

 

Ella and Evan set off in a gusty force three. At the windward mark they turned slightly too far but quickly recovered. They put in an impressive performance with a ten minute lap, the fastest lap by the team so far. They said “we focused on balance and managed to overtake a few boats on the inside”. However they were slowed down by a large trip boat on the beat, and a bevy of swans who appeared not to understand the port/starboard rule.

 

A smooth changeover put Jared and Alex into the boat next. An advantageous wind shift between marks A and B, allowed them to overtake 2 boats. Jared had a few moments of confusion with the tacking sequence, having onlysailed aft main once before! Their seven laps saw the team through the halfway point of the race. Hard hiking and clear communication meant they held their position throughout, and even knocked a few seconds off the gap with the boat in front.

 

Hannah tried her hand at helming again, this time with Graham crewing. They were living proof that flat is fast, as they gained two places getting the team up to 21st position! Unfortunately on the next lap sun cream melted into Hannah’s eyes, blinding the helmsman. The crew saw for the helm but when a large gust hit they couldn’t keep the boat up and capsized. Difficult conditions led to a second capsize, seconds after righting the boat, and they were eventually towed in, with the mainsail down and a boat full of rope spaghetti. Jared and Paul jumped to the rescue to untangle the boat and set Emma and Aimee off.

 

Emma and Aimee got into the boat, that now more resembled a jacuzzi. Aimee bailed furiously whilst Emma coped with the building wind and gusty weather. Their political protest over Brexit, earned them some friends in other boats and they secured a couple of overtakes. They had some issues with the rudder coming up and a broken burgee from the last capsize; but a solid performance and a bit of karaoke allowed them to gain a place overall.

 

Jared and Freya came on at half five whilst on shore we broke out the doughnuts! This was Freya’s first time out, due to the inconvenience of a German exam in the morning! However their time on the water was limited, as Ella and Evan needed to be in the boat for the under 14’s race at 6pm. They had a good first lap, our tallest team members made use of their height to hike out even further. Exchanging places back and forth with another Enterprise, they were caught out by a wind shadow, which slowed them down.

 

On shore team managers, Adam and Paul were in a dilemma. Could they get Ella and Evan into the boat in time before the start of the under 14 race for a practice lap? With under two minutes to go, Jared and Freya approached the docking area. Under strict instructions from Paul and Adam for a slick changeover; Ella and Evan leapt into the boat and got underway quickly. With the team managers feeling the pressure, the Club Ent’s rudder cleared the line just before the cannon went off to start the race.

 

Having completed their race lap, Ella and Evan still had another lap to complete before they could come ashore. Adam and Paul expected to send them round again but Evan was tiring and they decided to sail for the docking area. Emma and Alex were put in the boat at short notice for the final stint, without even time for Emma to put her gloves on!

 

 

By 7pm the wind reached its highest point of the day up to a force 5. They battled their way round through the gusts and kept good time with frequent eleven minute laps. On their second lap they attempted to gybe at the gybe mark only to be capsized by an unexpected gust. They were up and going again within a minute, and no one on the shore had even noticed! Except for the broken jib pole... Emma and Alex, the second youngest and lightest member in the team, kept going, constantly hiking on the reaches. Emma decided it was best to tack round at the gybe mark to avoid further incidents! As they approached the final mark they heard the finishing gun sound and Emma uttered the fateful words “at least we only had one capsize”, at which point they were hit by yet another big gust and went in again, despite letting the mainsail out completely. This time it was a bit more difficult to raise the boat as the jib was cleated on the leeward side. They persevered and sailed the boat through the finish line to thunderous cheers from the Midland supporters!

 

An overall challenging day, with lessons learned all round! We improved on last year’s position coming 23rd. An exhausted team still found the energy to pose for a slightly damp team photo and a cheer for fastest helm Ella as she collected the team’s finishing plaque!

 

 

 

 

By Emma Coleman and the Midland team