A windy forecast didn’t deter 12 boats from crossing country lines to attend the Craftinsure Silver Tiller at Mumbles Yacht Club on the 23rd and 24th September for a brilliant event. Saturday looked set to be a gorgeous day out on the water, but with 30+ kts forecast for Sunday we quickly agreed to do four races on Saturday to make a nice series, even if sailing was canned on Sunday.
There was some waiting around as we floated out to the race area and the breeze seemed to have dropped but the race officer made a great call waiting and a nice but shifty breeze swung round more to a south-westerly and settled in for the day.
I know I’m supposed to write these reports in the third person but the first race was an absolute joy for me! There was a small delay with a general recall and our race officer realised he’d have to use the black flag all day but we were soon underway. James Wells and I (Anna Aylward) won the pin and continued left for some way, taking an early lift, while the fleet split half and half on each side of the course. Those that had gone left early were mostly ahead with James and I rounding the windward mark first, followed I think by Rob Kennaugh and Andrew Prosser and Mike and Jane Calvert.
With simple sausage-triangle-sausage courses laid all day, we had a run first followed by another beat where reading the shifts was becoming really important. Mike and Jane were second round the windward mark this time but a problem with their kite allowed other boats to catch up on the first tight reach and they lost a few places by the end.
James and I maintained our lead throughout the race to take our second ever race win at a Silver Tiller - big cause for a mini celebration in our boat! Rob and Andrew held on to finish an excellent 2nd and Jon Gorringe and Matt Currell crossed the line in 3rd.
There was some resetting of the start line and then we were away for the second race. Another shifty beat followed, where the left side was still providing some initial gains but the right was starting to look favourable with more tide underneath as well.
Matt Biggs and Beka Jones eked out a lead and held on to win the race, followed closely by Mike and Jane in 2nd place, with an assortment of boats in the mix for 3rd place. The final run became somewhat processional as James and Anna followed Mark Stockbridge and Chris Sanders to the right, before gybing inside them and getting ahead to finish the race 3rd. Jon and Matt rolled the dice by being the only boat to go left and also got ahead of Mark and Chris by coming into the finish line at a hotter angle.
Sandwiches and well-earned chocolate bars were consumed as we readied for the third race. A clean start for all and we all headed different ways up the beat. A big shift up the first leg had the race team zooming over to move the windward mark for the second lap, but going more right and paying close attention to the shifts was now definitely paying off, with a nice lift up to the mark on starboard.
With a bit more breeze in this race, Jon and Matt were in the lead, again being closely chased by Mike and Jane. I don’t remember a lot of this race, but Jon and Matt held onto the lead to cross the line first, although it was very close with Mike and Jane in 2nd. Rob and Andrew sailed another good race, with some good downwind speed, to cross the line 3rd despite our best efforts to catch them.
Ready for the fourth race of the day, it was still all to play for as scores were close and the four races would allow for a discard. Another clean start, causing our race officer to note at prizegiving that they were amazed how bang on we all were to the start despite being under black flags all day! The big shift to the right had stayed so going left was definitely not the right way anymore, most success seemed to come from tacking up the middle with the shifts, waiting for a nice lift to the mark at the top.
Mike and Jane had impressively worked their way up all afternoon and they were in the lead, this time being chased by Jon and Matt. The reaches were less tight in this race, but there still wasn’t a lot of momentum available to attack anyone, so the beat was the best place to gain metres. This was probably the windiest race of the day but hiking hard Mike and Jane went on to win with Jon and Matt in 2nd and James and Anna in 3rd.
We all raced back to shore to enjoy a well-deserved sit down after a long day and to chat about whether or not we’d be sailing on Sunday with the big wind forecast. Sailors love nothing more than chatting about a wind forecast!
Sunday came and all looked calm on the water but the Met Office was saying 30-40kts so we turned to the locals for their inside knowledge. Our intrepid race officer ventured out and it was indeed as windy as forecast despite the deceptive appearances, so sailing was cancelled and we packed up.
Congratulations to our excellent winners Mike and Jane Calvert, especially to Jane in her first event back after injury, she was back to her usual hard hiking. It was a brilliant event with four different race winners and still thoroughly enjoyable despite the lack of sailing on Sunday.
Well done to our fleet winners Gold went to James Wells and Anna Aylward, Silver to Colin and Sean Anders, and Bronze to Geoff and Helen Kimber.
Huge thanks to Mumbles Yacht Club for hosting us, and the race team for putting on four good races! Thanks to the galley for serving up delicious cold pints of cider, and having lots of food ready before and after racing!
Looking forward to seeing everyone at Parkstone!
Tickets got the end of Season Craftinsure Silver Tiller at Salcombe Yacht Club on 28th October. Don’t delay book your tickets today - https://www.salcombeyc.org.uk/event/782593