Chipstead IOM Unicorn Trophy Open Meeting & Met & Southern IOM Round 1, on 9th February 2020
Sunday dawned damp and very windy as Storm Ciara swept through the UK with severe weather warnings in place for the south east of England. Four brave souls arrived at Chipstead to contest the Chipstead IOM Unicorn Trophy and the first round of the 2020 Met & Southern Championship. Trevor Binks and Colin Hatton from Eastbourne joined Chipstead members, Vernon Appleton and Barrie Martin. They were clearly outnumbered by the nine Chipstead race crew who turned out to manage the event. Days with a good rig 3 breeze are quite infrequent, but Storm Ciara was offering just a little on the top.
With a 200 metre windward leeward course laid, the briefing was given by the race officer. The first race commenced just after 10:00am with the wind strength at 35mph and gusts adding another 20 mph. Racing was quite close as the sailors battled the wind and waves upwind and then turned to surf rapidly on the downwind legs. Three boats were running rig 3 with Colin Hatton bravely running rig 2. A rig 3 is maybe on his wish list.
Trevor took race one, but as the morning progressed Vernon took races two, three and four. It was clear that one tacking mistake was allowing for a change of lead at the front of the fleet. Trevor suffered from jib sheet snagging issues in races two and four, whilst Colin split his mainsail in race two. He retired to the clubhouse and executed a quick fix and was back on the water for race three. A poor result could be mitigated by the small number of competitors and was helping to keep the event interesting.
In race six, Vernon had a jib sheet snap which caused a retirement, Barrie was suffering from boat control issues and also retired, leaving Trevor to come home ahead of Colin The sailors all agreed to take an early lunch at 12:15pm with Linda and Robin Aldcroft serving up a delicious shepherds pie to all who wanted a portion or three as the numbers were limited. Lunch was topped of with a fabulous selection of cakes and a hot drink.
Racing restarted at 13:15 with the gale now blowing even harder. Vernon had a good start and led the whole way round race seven, albeit closely followed by Trevor. Colin suffered from radio issues and retired. His boat was quickly chased down by the club power boat before it could reach the overhanging trees on the far bank. Trevor took race eight followed by Vernon and Barrie. Colin was unable to resolve his radio issues and withdrew.
Race nine saw Vernon sneak into a small lead which he kept to the finish. Trevor’s main sheet then snapped and he was rushing to the clubhouse to fix his boat. At 14:15pm as Trevor was in the clubhouse, the wind stepped to another level and as the rain became really heavy, the remaining two sailors decided to call it a day.
The Chipstead crew brought in the marks in torrential rain and gusts surpassing 60 mph.
The sailors retired to the clubhouse to be served hot drinks and more excellent cake.
Results were calculated and prizes were presented to the first four.
Thank you to all the sailors and to my crew who efficiently ran an exciting open meeting in very challenging conditions. Dave Allinson – Race Officer