Cumbley secures title
Monday, March 21, 2016
The Noble Marine Solo Winter Championship was held on Saturday 19th march in perfect 'winter' conditions, one month after the event was postponed due to strong winds.
The 52 competitors who made the trip to the beautiful Chew Valley lake were greeted by a nice north easterly of between 10-15 mph. Noble Marine are the NSCA Class sponsor and Phil Kilburn (5650) provided water bottles to all competitors before racing and spot prizes for acts of brilliance/stupidity. Phil was also racing his brand new Ovington Solo and it looked a peach.
Class 'on the water judge, Steve Watson was the fourth official and would oversee the days racing and called no fouls, testament to the fair sailing followed by all competitors. It does appear that this system of education is filtering down to open and club level, a great reason to sail a Solo.
PRO John Smalley, no stranger to the Solo circuit, albeit about 20 years ago, set a classic triangle sausage course of three laps and reminded the assembled sailors that England would be going into battle with the French at 8pm so clean starts would be appreciated.
Out on the water some of the competitors were obviously from Wales, Scotland, Ireland or Italy as it took three attempts and the black flag to get the 'game' underway. There were a number of BFD's, Nigel Appleton, Tim Jonson and Stephen Penfold the culprits and the shame was that they were near the top of the pile at the first mark. They were also all club members but the PRO had taken no bribes (or they hadn't offered enough). Dave Mitchell popped out of the busy committee boat end and rounded first, I would normally have been whisked up to the top mark to video the action but my ride was still onshore doing vital repairs or stuffing down the excellent bacon butties on offer. Chris Brown, National Champion Charlie Cumbley and the hapless Nigel Appleton were in pursuit and with the first reach being very broad, sinking low would pay. Cumbley moved into the lead from Brown, D. Mitchell, 2015 Super Series Champion Andy Davis and Tim Jonson (BFD). Grand master John Webster (GM is 60-69) was having a stormer, he had spent the previous evening studying Cumbley's Y+Y article and the wise words were obviously proving effective as he moved into 5th. The wind was holding at around 14mph but with the top mark set towards the island, pressure and direction fluctuated, the result was some snakes and ladders and hard luck stories post event. Cumbley held the lead from Brown over the next few legs while Davis and Matthew Frary improved. There was some confusion when the leading two hardened up for the fourth beat (beginning of lap 3) while Davis and Frary spotted an un-snuffed finish mark and rolled the dice. Alas, there was no shortened course and Frary was the biggest loser while Davis went on to finish 3rd with Cumbley and Brown took line honours. Ian Hopwood and Webster completed the top 5.
PRO Smalley was straight into the race 2 countdown much to the appreciation of the sailors, the cold and TV programming incentivising the fleet to start cleanly, ably backed up by the prominence of the 'drapeau noir'. Tim Jackson nailed the beat and rounded first, his new HD sail doing the business and he was chuffed to be in the mix. Andrew Wilde, Roger Lumby and Tim Jonson were in close pursuit, Jonson this time starting cleanly and obviously knows Chew like the back of his hand. Davis and Cumbley were just in the top ten and making ground. The wind was dropping slightly but Wilde found the conditions favourable for the Winder/D+/North 3DL and extended for a comfortable win. Davis and Pete Mitchell were mauling and scrummaging the whole race with Mitchell eventually taking second but onlyafter some close calls on the last run. Tim Jackson held 4th and John Webster was again the model of consistency in 5th. Mike Sims was having a bad day having suffered a broken tiller union joint just before race 1 (DNS) he was doing turns in race 2 at a very busy wing mark but still managed 10th at the end.
With the reaches becoming a bit of a slog, PRO Smalley switched to a windward /leeward course for race 3. Nigel Appleby added an OCS to his BFD to complete his day. Like the English forwards he can certainly not be accused of not trying. Ian Hopwood, a keen and very skilled rugby player in his youth was not in the mood to hang around and led at mark 1 with Cumbley and Davis up close and personal. Matt Greenfield, another Chew Valley sailor (they have a talented pool of Solo sailors) was 4th from Chris Brown who was looking to add to his 2nd in race 1. There was a scrum or two at the leeward mark, setting two bottom marks would have split the fleet but where is the fun in filming that. Cumbley and Davis extended away to have their own personal battle, exchanging the lead on three or four occasions before Davis finally prevailed having sunk deep on the run and held for the inside lane at the bottom mark. Cumbley's 2nd was enough to secure the title 1-6-2. Davis 2nd overall with a 3-3-1, Hopwood took a very creditable 3rd and Wilde pulled through to 4th and 3rd overall 10-1-4. Hopwood would take fourth overall 4-14-3 and Pete Mitchell fifth 7-2-6.
Nigel Davies was first Veteran (50-59) in 13th overall. John Webster was first Grand Master(60-69) in 7th overall. Brenda Hoult was our Lady competitor and 31st overall.
Massive thanks to the team at Chew Valley who turned around the races in good time, to Alex Timms who is doing a great job of promoting the Class at Chew, to Phil Kilburn and Noble Marine for continued support of the NSCA.
Thanks also to North Sails who are sponsoring the Super Series 2016 of which this event is part of, to on water judge Steve Watson and to Nick Fisher who ably filled my shoes at the prize giving.
Next up is the Spring Championship at Draycote Water, April 9th. See you on the water. Will Loy President NSCA.