Exe Open 2009

Day 1 of the West Country weekend - May 2009
Silver Tiller series sponsored by:
Speed Sails
Tracking the shipping forecast during the days prior to the 30th May proved nail biting with gate warnings in Lundy (North Devon coast). The Saturday morning forecast easterly or northeasterly 5 to 7, the promise of an interesting day!

There is a local saying in Exmouth that sensible yachties do not go out in an easterly. With the wind being in the east for several days an interesting swell had built up which gave a rolling ride on the Committee Boat and mal-de-mer for some of the 23 competitors.

The fleet got away to a clean start at the first gun (much to everyones amazement) and at the end of the first round Andy Davis and Nicola Brook had worked out a clear lead from Glen Truswell and Olly Turner. They were followed by Matt Biggs and Rob Kennaugh, then came Mike Calvert and Chris Downham hotly pursued by David Winder and Pippa Taylor. The wind veered during the race (against the forecast) so those who went right scored. The established pecking order held through to the finish with the wind fading towards the end.

The course was rapidly relaid with a couple of boat lengths bias to the pin. The fleet bunched over with 20 seconds to go, so up with the general recall. This was a blessing in disguise as the wind suddenly backed to the north east sufficiently for the wing mark to become the new weather mark. It also became very light and patchy. This meant that at the next start the Merlins were moving so slowly that all but two were behind the line and the others managed to recross as they were sailing back at the time. The beat seemed to go on forever. Spud Rowsell, on rescue boat duty, observed more then one crew being sick over the side. Apparently, the local beer was blamed.

The ebbing tide, as much as the low wind speed, caused the race to be finished at the end of the first reach. Mike Calvert had concentrated extremely hard in the trying conditions to finish first, with Matt Biggs second and Dave Winder and Steve tying for third place.

With both races to count, Mike Calvert took the meeting with 5 points. Dave Winder, Matt Biggs and Andy Davis all scored 8 points in aggregate so the tie was broken by the second race score. Dave’s journey south was made worthwhile with a second place, with Matt and Andy third and fourth respectively.

Some Merlins were given a tow back to the beach and it was time to de-rig, put the boats on the trailers and get them around to Starcross for the second part of the weekend’s joint west country open meetings.

Frank Rowsell seemed pleased with Mike’s win…wonder why!

Report: Ben Jennings

See also:
    Full results
    Report from Starcross (the day after)
    Silver Tiller positions so far