Shoreham Open 2004

For the last 3 years the Shoreham open has not lived up to it's reputation of guaranteed force 3-4 sea breeze and chunky swell, offering instead flat calms and near tropical temperatures. Although this had gained favour with those after a good all over suntan, we had lost our hardcore yachting appeal. Consequently, we dragged the event forward a couple of weeks hoping for a touch more wind...well we got it in abundance. 25 Merlins turned up for what was to be the first real sea sail of this year's Silver Tiller circuit.

Race one was held in a moderate 4 gusting 5 with steeply stacked waves due to low pressure and tide. The 'old man' of the sea and local super star Alan Warren lead at the windward mark and was never to be seriously challenged. The following pack contained all the usual big guns with Tom Stewart, John Bell and Dave Winder all chasing hard. However, it was Chairman Pat Blake who made the best of the conditions that he seemed to be revelling in, as his new boat showed excellent speed, particularly under spinnaker, sailing into second. Tom Stewart third and Dave Winder fourth, two multi talented helms who respectively not only make fast sails and boats but can also race them successfully.

The wind eased for the now late afternoon race and Alan Warren crewed by Liam Dempsey were out in front yet again, Alan's young whippersnapper of a son William hot on his heals with Robbie 'the Whirlwind' Sampson generating supernatural pace from the 14ft Rocket. The top 10 boats eventually finished within 1 minute of each other with Glen Truswell crewed by Paul Davies (2000 winning helm and in the same boat) making the best of the last beat, squeezing in front of William Warren by a couple of yards with father Alan third and Tom Stewart fourth, displaying consistent pace throughout the wind range.

Photo of winners Glen and Paul

Everyone retired back to the club for some excellent and much needed sustenance, starting with the solids and progressing to the liquids. Something openly Freudian about this I thought, as we all regressed to child like behaviour with many competitors losing the power of speech and eventually the ability to walk.

Sunday morning dawned and some rather bedraggled looking faces emerged from the tents dotted about the club grounds. I on the other hand awoke on my own bedroom floor with some 14 random house guests, one of whom had taken advantage of my previous nights condition and swiped my own bed (talk about biting the hand that feeds you). Needless to say that person will be camping at the club next year. Anyway, after substantial refuelling of the fried variety we were ready for the force 5 gusting 6 that lay just beyond the harbour entrance.

Our OOD for the weekend Alan Chaplin and his team again set a trapezoid course with another 2 mile beat, (that's about three normal beats for the sane amongst us). The gun went and we all toddled of towards our impending doom, some of us wanted to cry but our helms would not allow such behaviour, thanks Pat. We eventually approached the windward mark and partial relief from flat out hiking was in sight, unfortunately we were in the lead so I had to hike on the reaches too, bu**er! Simon Blake and Glen Truswell were hot on our tail as were Tom Stewart and Judith Massey. After the first reach and run Pat Blake crewed by Alex Jackson had extended their lead due to what I like to modestly equate to tip top spinnaker work, then on the second reach Blake headed for the wrong mark due to some hungover monkey at the pointy end giving the wrong bearing (sorry Pat).

By the time Blake realised his mistake (and subsequent crew beating) and had re-hoisted his kite the lead was lost and son Simon and Glen Truswell were only a few boat lengths adrift. Blake Snr. re-established a healthy lead again only to have to retire due to gear failure. This left the race open for Glen Truswell to take another bullet, Stewart second and Massey third, Simon Blake having to also retire due to 'rudder failure' (personally I'd put money on it that he was scared of the nasty big waves and went in to talk to his mummy).

For the final race Stewart showed excellent boat handling in the freshening force 6 to take the gong, Truswell secured a convincing second and with it the overall top spot for the weekend. Judith Massey third, and John Bell crewed by Graham Williamson (Judith's husband and ex national champion) in third (ooh, would have loved to be in that car on the way home).

Many thanks to all the visitors for their continued and much appreciated support of Shoreham Sailing Club, some of whom travelled from as far a field as Manchester. I hope this is a return to the guaranteed wind and waves that Shoreham is renowned for.

Alex Jackson

See also:
Full results
Evil wave photo from Y&Y

We have some great photos courtesy of Warwick Baker (Shoreham SC) who can be contacted on 01273 455806.

Not much of 'Time Lords' in the water here

Interesting crew expression...

Were you hoping to keep your bum dry?

What waves?


Sheet in quick!