I sit here in the confines of my hotel room, the dulcet tones from the Bee Gees tribute band still ringing in my ears. The sneaky dutch bar team having lulled us into a sense of security not dissimilar to a clubhouse in the lee of Everest. Those small beers do mount up and the sight of Cumbley, Bourne and especially Burton strutting their stuff to "How Deep is My Love" is something I cannot un-see. National Solo enthusiasts may look at their screens with confusion but relax, the Solo athletes had gone to sleep many hours earlier, their bodies hydrated and in hibernation for tomorrows racing. The demographics of the Solo and OK classes may be similar but the Solo guys are far more sensible. For me the day has been full of ups and downs and not just due to the steep chop of the IJsselmeer, miscommunication to both fleets resulting in no rescue craft other than the mark laying ribs to attend to 100 + sailors. I have to ask if it is not the responsibility of the club to provide adequate cover to host a regatta of such size? While the relaxed manner of the dutch is admirable, one has to question the wisdom of offering to host a championship event and, in the case of the OK dinghy, International point scoring one, with no specified rescue craft on the water. Luckily, a club rib and, at potential cost to both associations, a private rib were procured, but had to be manned by the media guy (me) and my able crew Fiona, while an OK sailor had to forego his regatta in the name of safety. On to the racing before I force the keys of my Macbook through the formica laminated desktop. Race 1 The OK fleet were first away and a full ten minutes past before the Solo start was signalled. Port bias resulted in a general recall and, I believe a black flag. The second start was less biased and the OK fleet were just behind the Solo fleet as they headed upwind in the 12-13 knot breeze. Sims, who had actually started quiet tardily, worked some shifts to round with Andy Davis just on his inside, followed by Andy Tunnicliffe and Kevan Gibb. Dutch hotshot Peerke Kortekaas rounded just behind but lost out as a gust with his name on it nearly sent him in. Davis and Sims continued to tussle with Davis appearing to have an advantage downwind while Sims took control upwind. Tunnicliffe and Gibb held position as the 62 other competitors battled with cold, the Ijsselmeer and each other for bragging rights at the bar. With triangle, sausage completed Davis set off up the last beat allowing Sims to tack off.A few tacks and many metres later Davis still held the lead but, choosing the pin end of the shortened course, over stood, allowing Sims, with the guille of a Ferrari tactician, to undercut him to the line. Tunnicliffe, Gibb and Guy Magyar completed the top five. Race 2 With the timing of a circus ring trapeze artist (where have you heard that before) the Solo start for race two co-incided with the OK fleet reaching the leeward mark...you could not make it up. Sims led in from the right with Tom Lonsdale, Ian Hopwood and Olly Davenport in pursuit.Chris Brown, Tunnicliffe and Nigel Davies led the chasing pack with the wind a steady 12 knots. Davis was in eighth with plenty of places to make up. Sims continued to control the race and while Davis recovered to second he was never really threatening to the lead. Davenport revelled in the chop and recorded third infant of the consistent Tunnicliffe. M. Gifford and Guy Magyar completed a talented top six. Race 3 In a textbook copy of race two the fleet were released to co-incide with the OK fleet as I shook my head in dismay and distain. We like the OK fleet but not that up-close and personal. Kortekaas hit the left harder than a snap election and rolled over the fleet to earn the President's Beer Voucher for first to the windward mark, an award he reminded me of when we later met in the bar. Lonsdale and Arnd Wolvetang were next but the latter was BFD so would have a sad face that evening. Lonsdale himself had been BFD in race two, the Solo bow maybe blunter than an OK but it still goes faster than you would like sometimes. Brown was followed closely by Davis who finally decided to arrive to the party and surged into the lead by the leeward mark. From there he controlled the two lap race with Sims surging into second at the gun. I have purposely used surge twice and now three times, the result of far too much beer and merriment, care of Magic Marine who have so generously sponsored our social programme as well as providing free prizes tomorrow evening. The forecast tomorrow is more of the same, 12-16 knots at it's peak and two rescue craft. The PRO has stated he will not let us sail if it is above 20knots so I fear for his safety should that scenario be realised. So, Mike Sims is the Solo event leader with Davis and Tunnicliffe ready to pounce should he falter. Guy Magyar is an impressive fourth with Davenport and Brown next.
The fleet awoke to a brisk Easterly breeze with no sign of an increase in temperature. Tourism to this area has certainly flourished but there is no "Med"in Medemblik this morning. I motored out to the race area, the wind strength was at around 15 knots with a very steep wave pattern and I use the phrase "pattern" with a caveat that it include "erratic" as there was not one I could see. Race 4 With the Solo fleet away under the black flag after a general recall there was a big split to both sides of the beat. Ian Hopwood, who loves the challenges of racing when the going gets tough nailed the beat to led in from the left. Olly Wells, Nigel Davies and Graham Cranford Smith were next around as those who had chosen the left of the course worked their way up, headed all the way. Oli Davenport, Andy davis and event leader Mike Sims finally rounded 13th, 14th and 17th with work to do. Wells had taken the lead by the bottom mark, the new P+B / JP Solo proving it can handle the waves with it's fine entry bow. It the top mark Wells continued to assert while Hopwood and Martin Frary held off the pack. Sims had performed miracles to get back up to 4th with Davenport up to 7th. Davies though was finding it harder and was still in 14th. At the gun it was Wells with the bullet from a fast finishing Sims with Hopwood topping out the top three. Davenport and Frary completed a talented lineup. Davies had moved up to 7th but this he would hope to be a discard by end of trading. Race 5 The sun hinted at joining the party and sailors were seen peeling back some outer layers of sailing apparel. Wells must have removed at least three balaclavas himself but this may have been just so those who witnessed his victory in the previous race would actually believe it was him and not a ringer. The wind was still holding at around 15 knots and the fleet were away cleanly at the first attempt. Wells, Davenport and Sims all powered out of the middle the line while Davis chose the left. The fleet were split across the course but it was man of the moment, Hopwood who once again stamped his authority on the first beat and gained a second "President's Beer token" for his skill. Chris Brown, Oli Davenport and Andy Davis were in pursuit with Kevan Gibb having a good race in 5th. Davis pushed the overdrive button and was in the lead by the bottom mark and extended over the pack. Clearly enjoying the generous waves and making use of just about all of them. Davenport also excelled and with Hopwood holding station, these three stayed in a tighter formation than the red Arrows for the remainder of the race. Tom Lonsdale broke through Brown to take 4th with Brown completing the top five. Mike Sims had his worse result but 6th was still a valiant result from where he had rounded on lap 1. Wells was seen nursing his Solo back to shore for repairs which later turned out to be a failed splice to the kicker system. He was though back out in time for race 6. Race 6 The sun was out and with the wind failing to spoil the party it was Medemblik at it's finest. Peerke Kortekaas and a group including Davis came out of the pin end while Sims was unsighted. At the top mark it was Lonsdale who would get the free beer while Gibb, Davis and Davenport pursued him down the reaches. Kortekaas, Andy Tunnicliffe and Guy Magyar completed the top seven as the fleet powered upwind. Davis was once again in control by the end of lap two and loose covered Davenport to take another bullet and see him top the leader board overnight, ripping the lycra event leader rash vest from sims grasp. Davenport himself had a good day at the office and 2nd would see him move up to 3rd overall. Sims recovered to 4th and 2nd overall from Lonsdale who's 3rd would keep him in the top four. Gibb held for a top five finish but has some hefty scores to count while Tunnicliffe's lack of time in the Solo this year is showing by his own very high standards. Still, 5th overall and still two races to go there is all to play for. Off the water Brakeboer was the chosen bar to host the Magic Marine prize draw and it also served as the OKs shindig though, they were so quiet we hardly knew they were there. Magic Marine had supplied us with an amazing array of sailing kit and I can testify to the quality of the product as the box it came in was very heavy. Sailors were full of praise for the gifts they were lucky enough to receive so huge thanks to Max Blom, Clare Blom, Linda Bomhof and the whole team at Magic Marine who have made this a memorable event for the Solo fleets of the UK and Holland. The Dutch Association also provided us with a huge batch of vintage event T shirts which were happily received by more winners than a chicken dinner. So, we go into Super Sunday with two races remaining and a pleasant forecast for racing. It appears a two horse race for Davis and Sims with Davenport seeking a podium finish in this "Major". Behind him it is closer than a shave with a new razor so please look out for a short report tomorrow and then a full round up early next week.
All was set for an exciting finale to the Magic Marine Nation's Cup, hosted by the Royal Hollandia Yacht Club. The athletes stood onshore, stretching and triggering slow and fast twitch fibres for the days racing. The elite sailors headed of to their FX 49s so the watching group of Solo sailors disbanded to their race craft. Out on the water the conditions were conducive for a splendid final two races of the regatta, 15 knots and some nice waves to work with. Race 7 The fleet were released and, like the local women here, the PRO was taking no nonsense and brandished the black flag from the get go. The sailors were also keen to get the job done and with ferries to catch and Amsterdam and Rotterdam to negotiate, started impeccably. At the top mark it was the guys coming in from the left who benefited and Tunnicliffe, who had started right on the pin rounded first with Davenport, Davis, Brown and Lonsdale completing the top five. Sims was not where he needed to be and once again found himself having to mount a comeback of Oracle proportions. Davenport revelled in the conditions and took control while Davis moved up to second, consolidating his grip on the title. Sims was awesome downwind, his dynamic style and hunger to win seeing him move up to 4th but at the gun after the three laps was Davenport from Davis and Tunnicliffe. It would now require a Sims win and a Davis disaster to deny the Nation's Cup defender the auld cup. Race 8 Pin end favoured and with a black flag and shattered bodies, the brave would be stepping up for this final race. Davenport was on the pin with Sims almost in his lap to windward, it this moment in time there are yet to be results posted but lets hope no names were taken. First to the mark was Nigel Pybus with Brown and Nigel Davies completing an amazing Draycote Water 1-2-3. Sims was in fourth and guaranteed to improve by the bottom mark. Davis was seventh and, by my on water calculation, if Sims won would need to finish in 6th! Sims and Brown continued their battle as the sun shone and wind held at 12 knots but worryingly for Sims, Davis had moved into the top four. At the gun it was Brown who recorded his first Championship race win with Sims second by the slimmest of margins. Davis finished third from M.J Gifford and Guy Magyar. So, Andy Davis has successfully defended the Magic Marine Nation's Cup he won here last year. Mike Sims is second and must not be disheartened as he was right on the pace, just let down by some first beat tactics. Oliver Davenport completes the podium with Andy Tunnicliffe and Chris Brown filling the top five. Marleen Gaillard is first lady in 34th from Clare van der Does in 36th. Finally, Peerke Kortekaas is the first dutch boat in 10th overall. Thanks to the Dutch Solo Class Association and to Royal Hollandia Y.C. but special thanks to all competitors for attending and making this such a successful championship. Thanks to Magic Marine for their generous sponsorship, and for this initiative to connect the hidden classes. Noble Marine are our class insurer, please support them like they support us. Will Loy President NSCA