They're improving fast at Hastings sailing club... Bexhill's Europe duo head west

Conditions were perfect for the fourth week of the Saturday Afternoon Improvers Link (SAIL) Series at Hastings and St Leonards Sailing Club.

Saturday, 3rd July 2021, 12:00 pm
Racing under way in the Saturday Afternoon Improvers Link (SAIL) Series / Photo by John Cole

Competitors, many of them novices, launched into a steady force two from the east that gradually increased to force three across the afternoon.

Many taking part had only completed their beginners’ sail training course in the spring but were now confidently sailing in competitive races.

Chris Bennett and Caroline Cronin in their Tasar won the first two races but were pushed into third by Mat Windley (Laser) and Hugh Ashford (Laser), who were respectively first and second in the third race.

Richard Eagleton (left) in his Europe

The Tasar now leads the series which runs until mid July. Sunday saw the final races of the Early Summer Series completed in much stronger conditions, and under grey skies and rain.

Winds were again easterly but force four to five as sailors launched.

Hugh Ashford in the Laser fleet won the first race with Roy Sandford close behind. The wind dropped a notch for the second race although significant gusts caught out a number of sailors who were slowed or capsized as a result.

Roy Sandford kept his seat throughout and took first in the second race ahead of Melanie Clark in second.

Across the series as a whole, Melanie Clark was first, Hugh Ashford second and Roy Sandford third.

In the general handicap fleet, Philip and Margaret Blurton (Tasar) won both the day’s races with their Tasar making the most of the fast reaches and an error at the jibe mark by their competitors, Richard and Sue Morley (Buzz), who capsized and retired.

The wins for the Blurtons were not enough to take the series as a whole which went to the Morleys by a single point.

Maurice and Janey Nash won the catamaran fleet races and their series’ races overall.

The club was pleased to complete the Early Summer Series which was the first series of racing since the start of the pandemic in 2020; the Late Summer Series starts this Sunday.

* Bexhill Sailing Club-based Europe dinghy sailors Lee Roberts and Richard Eagleton contested a championship in Weymouth Harbour.

The races were due to cover three days and saw a fleet of 50 boats take on the challenge of very strong winds on Friday yet have the race on Sunday abandoned with no wind.

It was a harsh initiation for Lee, in his first Championship, but a commendable 41st place has encouraged him to compete again in the future. Richard is a leading Europe sailor but conditions and equipment problems left him 21st. He will look to improve on that place next year

Last Saturday saw BSC sail trainees enjoying the water... literally. It was ‘learn to capsize’ weekend, the purpose being to learn how to recover the boat and avoid the whole exercise if possible.

This took place after race nine of the Saturday series, competed for by 16 boats. A strong slow fleet race was won by the Europe of Neil Smith ahead of the Palmers’ Miracle and Fi Brown in her Comet in third.

The fast fleet race showed what a good boat a Supernova is, as Tony Witham beat Ali Hodge’s new Laser, with Ben Cole third in a Supernova.

We saw only two Cats and two Assymetrics, Mark Scheldt/Lucy Spencer ahead of Tony Lane/Lynn Jarvis in the former and Dusty Miller/Andy Bullen ahead of Aidan Harvey/Joe Crew in the latter.

The winds were dubious. Well, so said John Stebbing and Paul Libreri who had a nail-biting tussle on the last lap to see who came back last.

There was an easterly wind for Sunday series race eight, contested by the few.

A simple triangular course was one commodore Nikki Palmer and former commodore Michael Copeman found comfortable. They took an average eight minutes to lap.

On corrected time the first boat of the entire fleet became the last. This was after Logan Adam’s epic set of capsizes in his Topper, but he refused to give up on completing the race without hands on assistance.

This week there’s a Friday evening race, sail training, free sailing and an evening race on Saturday, followed by Early Worm racing on Sunday.