On Friday, I pulled into the field adjacent to Weston Sailing club on what was a warm, sunny and dewy morning; parking next to fellow Stokes Bay sailors and ex-Europe sailors Steve and Sarah Cockrill. While rigging, in a very leisurely manor, we chatted about all things sailing (as one does) and I took the opportunity to collect any little nuggets of information I could from Steve. Mast bend curves, tacking with your bum in the air and small-time phycological warfare were amongst his favourite stories. He speaks very fondly of the Europe still and sounds as though he would re-join the fleet again if several things fall into place. A 'his’n’hers' pair of boats for him and Sarah is definitely not out of the question!
I collected my tracker and launched, hoping that a glorious sea-breeze would fill in. Unfortunately this was not the case! The wind became lighter and shiftier, far from optimum for the timed speed trial's planned for the day!
Saturday arrived with a similar feel to the previous day’s meteorological situation: light and a bit flukey. A few more boats had arrived and the assortment of classes rigged on the shore line in anticipation of the three scheduled races on the Costa-del-Soton Water. Being over the Easter weekend many of the usual Europe suspects were unable to travel due to family commitments… Or perhaps they had seen the forecast and thought better of it! Competitors were divided into two fleets: Catamaran/Fast Handicap and Medium/Slow Handicap.
On launching it became apparent that the wind was slighter than it looked on shore and really quite shifty. Fast fleet started well – with a notable comedy moment from the 49er where the helm executed a quality dismount by way of missing the trapeze line, leaving the crew do go it alone on a man-overboard manoeuvre.
After completing one lap, the wind had shifted from a North Easterly round to a southerly and the majority of Med/Slow fleet had managed to raft together, crossing the gate in a great line all at the same time… on a run. One lap later, S flag was raised and a collective sigh of relief that we could have a break of intense concentration. AP was popped up and we drifted in for a spot of lunch in the sun.
Before Race 2 myself and Kathy (USA111) had a quick tune up and I offered a few tips to help her sail set-up for the super-light airs. The course was reversed as it seemed that the wind had settled in on a southerly-ish direction. The wind became increasingly difficult with one leg of the course I was on beat at one end, a menagerie of small boats mid-leg on a run to by-the-lee and a pack of F18 Catamarans behind with their spinnakers up.
AP up again after race 2 but then came down before we could drift in(!)
Race 3 was much the same as race two. An acceptance of the wacky races and a healthy level of grit, determination and concentration seemed key.
The evening’s entertainment included a hearty BBQ put on by the club and a game of Mad Hatter Bingo – a game I thoroughly recommend to anyone and everyone.
Sunday dawned and AP went up ashore instantly. The forecast was for less wind than Saturday but the race officer was staunchly optimistic that we should be able to get a race in and therefor qualify for a discard. After an hours’ postponement the decision was reluctantly taken to abandon racing, allowing for the travellers to get home early.
It has to be said that the weather suited featherweight nature of the Europe and other similar smaller boats and the ease at which they power up with. After a great two days of light wind racing, 3rd place went to myself, with Kathy also finishing in 15th, not a bad set of results for the Europes in a 45 boat fleet!
Farmoor Reservoir was like Piccadilly Circus, with 160 boats of various shapes and sizes packed on to the reservoir. Unlike the previous Inlands, light airs prevailed for most of the day until the tail end of the third and final race saw the gusts kick up to 18 knots and caught a few people napping, with capsizes ensuing.
The fluky conditions tended to favour europes and some similar boats who made the most of the short, sharp gusts. Jon Tweedle (now dieted down to half the size he used to be for his Finn) was out in his newly referbed £300 machine and gave Malcolm and Pete a run for their money at stages. Emma's prior experience at small boats in big handicap fleets shon through and was able to get away from the others other than for a short time mid-race two when it looked as though Jon and Pete were going for the over-take.... Just remember the wind fills in (and therefore falls out) from behind! An honourable mention must go to "Pirate" Emma - a local youth sailor who was press-ganged into borrowing Caitlyn's europe.
It was a busy but well-managed foreshore, with more volunteers showing up than were actually needed, such is the enthusiasm for this event which has now become established as one of the most popular winter competitions. Pete Gray commented in his victory speech that this was the best run Oxford Blue he has seen. Traditional Europes' tea/coffee and home made cake followed in the club house along with the usual discussions of settings, kit and upgrading old boats out of hedges.
Europe sailors from across the UK descended on Oxford Sailing Club for the Europe Inlands for a fantastic weekend of sailing.
With three races per day, great hospitality, a diverse entry list, olds hands, newcomers, almost half the fleet under 23 with the eldest competitor in their early 70's and a third of the fleet female. Adding to this a fantastic forecast it was an event not to be missed. A number of 1st for the UK class, including Rosie Hill sailing a borrowed boat for the first time, brothers Daniel & Jack Osbourne making the trip from South Wales for their first event, the class using a leeward gate and experimenting with the O flag, allowing competitors the option of pumping when the wind was above 12 knots.
Saturday's racing was very close throughout the fleet. Richard Eagleton, Emma Pearson & Lucy Boreham having a great battle in races 1 & 2 with Lucy edging it to win both making the best of the shifty conditions, Hamish Morley in close pursuit to take 2 4th places. A slight delay due to the Finns being too eager at the start of race 3, meant the breeze had increased to 20 knots, making the downwind exciting with a few swims as the sailors got to grips with pumping.
The fleet returned ashore for a dinner at the club, a fun quiz and plenty of chat on the days racing and sharing of tips.
Sunday dawned with a bit more breeze, but sunshine. A further 3 races were planned. Race 1 saw a general recall with the fleet too keen to start, the race officer sensibly postponed the re start to allow the Finns to complete their 1st lap before the fleet got away cleanly at the 2nd time of asking. Another very close battle between Richard & Lucy in race 1.
George Crammond, sailing his new import from Belgium made a port hand flyer at the start of race 2 to take an early lead, but to find himself on the wrong side of a shift at the top of the beat dropped him to 4th to round, a very close battle between Emma Pearson, Lucy & Daniel Osbourne developed, Emma showing that technique over brute force can pay downwind taking the lead at the leeward gate, going onto take race 5, Lucy in 2nd, wrapping up the event and Daniel chasing hard to claim 3rd. Hamish Morley made a fantastic start to race 6 to finish 2nd, securing the under 18 prize.
A fantastic weekend was had by all, new friends made, new techniques learnt and big grins all round with all competitors going away with a goodie bag of excellent prizes.
A big thank you to Oxford Sailing Club, Jonathan Tweedle for his amazing organisation making this Inlands memorable.
Weston Sailing Club hosted the Europe Nationals on 25th/26th August as part of the Weston Open for Singlehanders weekend and what a weekend it was! There were two days of incredible weather!
Saturday had more shifts, holes, puffs and flukes than... I don't know, insert your own choice of flukiest inland venues ever! Savage Sunday brought the Beast from the South – wild and wet as forecast, and the Race Officer's promise of two quick races was more than enough for most people.
The unbearable lightness of being may have helped local star Emma Pearson cash in on the Saturday with a first, two seconds (and a fifth?), but lightness alone is not enough – the other Saturday bullets were shared by the heavyweights of the fleet, Graham Hutchings from Royal Belgian YC, and Tom Lonsdale, a newcomer in a borrowed boat. On Savage Sunday Emma hung on gamely to take the Lady's Championship and third overall. Graham gave a heavy-weather lesson to us all and took the British Open Championship, while Tom became Best Newcomer and UK National Champion all at once.
Lucy Boreham admitted to being a Roaring Forty and Richard Eagleton held on to the Swinging Sixties trophy (now re-named the Staggering Seventies!) Geoff Newman was a definite improver in performance, just beating Andy Harris who obviously had his mind on his forthcoming Australian emigration. Andy was himself beaten twice by Neil Smith from Bexhill and once by Caitlin Tweedle from Oxford.
The Europes thank all those at Weston for having us, especially those who helped us launch on and recover on Savage Sunday. Europes gather again in two weeks on 8th/9th September at Oxford SC for the Inland Championships, sharing with the Finns, so no shortage of muscle-power for any roof-topping Europes!
Europe sailors from across the country converged on Highcliffe Sailing Club this morning for the UK Nationals, sharing with the Phantom class.
The initial outlook for sailing today didn't look great, but the race committee held their nerve, kept the fleet ashore until almost 2pm before launching into the 20 knot breeze.
A brisk sail out and a few Europes just checking the depth of water with the tips of masts and we were ready to go. A short postponement whilst the course was set and a further delay whilst the Phantoms decided to start early resulting in a general recall.
The Europes were better behaved and got away first time, with Malcolm Morley port taking the fleet at the pin end to win the start, Chris Gill showed that he's not forgotten how to sail a Europe whilst he's been off sailing Fireballs and led the fleet around the top mark, followed quickly by Malcolm Morley, Terry Curtis and Christine Slater. Off everyone went on a rapid top reach in great planing conditions, the Gybe mark saw a number of casualties with gains to be made for those who stuck the gybe, whilst others inspected the bottom of their boats.
A frisky broad reach down to the leeward mark with Chris extending his lead and Richard Eagleton showing the fleet how to control the boat in what was ever building conditions coming through into 2nd. Another windy upwind saw the fleet stretch out and with an ever increasing wind the race officer decided to shorten at the leeward mark, but this meant the fleet had a wobbly downwind with many of the fleet taking a swim or 2 on their way to the finish.
Sunday dawned with sunshine and 10 knots of breeze, but with the forecast for 25+ knots by midday. A wise decision the evening before from the race committee to bring the start forward to 10am meant that the fleet launched in 18 knots with the news that Portland already had 26 knots and it was coming our way.
Race 6 started with a clear split of the fleet, with half going hard left and the other half hard right, which was going to pay? At the top of the beat those on the right came in with a clear lead with Terry Curtis rounding 1st followed by Andrew Rushford in 2nd, Lucy Boreham and Christine Slater in 3rd & 4th. Chris Gill was the first of those who went left rounding in 5th. Terry maintained his lead, with Chris working his way back up to 2nd and Andrew 3rd. A photo finish between Christine and Lucy, with Christine's bow just in front to take 4th.
A quick turnaround in the increasing wind meant race 7 got under way in 20+ knots, the whole fleet took off to the right and Chris lead from start to finish and Terry rounded off a great event with another 2nd. Kathy Sherratt had a great final race, despite being one of the lighter helms in the fleet, sailed a fantastic race to take 7th.
With the wind increasing further and already a number of boats having spent some time upside down in race 7 the Race committee abandoned the idea of a final race, the fleet got ashore in time to pack away before the rain came and the wind increased further.
Chris Gill comfortably regained the title, with an almost perfect score line and a great display of how to handle the Europe in a breeze, Terry took a well deserved 2nd quickly learning the nuances of the Europe with Richard Eagleton in 3rd.
A fantastic event and turnout for the Europes, it was great to see such diversity in the fleet, with the youngest competitor 15, the oldest 69, the lightest at just 56kg, a few heavyweights at 75+kg and a good mix of both ladies and men, it was great to see so many new faces to the fleet and really close racing for everyone in some challenging conditions. Also great to see parent/child combinations sailing the class, with Malcolm and Hamish Morley joined by catamaran sailor duo of Olly & Ben Harris each racing their newly acquired Europes!
Massive thanks to Highcliffe Sailing Club for putting on a great event both on the water and ashore and the Phantom Class for sharing the event with us.
A fantastic 72 competitors turned up this year for the 7th Paignton Open for Single Handers (POSH), with a great selection of boats ranging from Europes to an International Canoe, and good sized fleets from the Blazes, RS100s, RS Aeros, Phantoms and newcomers Hadron H2s.
Alas the weather forecast wasn't what it had been a week before! The closer we got to the event, the lighter the forecast became, with 10-15knts from the southwest with sunshine, diminishing to 5-6knts on the day. But we did get the sunshine, and plenty of it!
For racing the fleets were divided into: Handicap, Blaze, RS100 and Fast Handicap, and all launched on time to sail the three scheduled races in light and tricky conditions on the first day. The three races each day were a trapezoid course to give everybody a bit of something with a condensed starting sequence and quick enough turn-around between races to prevent sailors getting cold when the sun went behind the clouds.
Saturday night saw the usual included-in-the-entry-fee reception and dinner prepared by our in-house caterers, Calvin and Jane.
Sunday dawned even brighter and more sparkly, with a forecast of 4-5knts from the NW and with the flags fluttering encouragingly on the pier, promising a better wind than Saturday, but the sunshine also threatened to give rise to a sea breeze. Again, the fleets launched on time and the first race of the day got away into what was probably a barely sailable breeze. 20 minutes into the race, the southerly sea breeze overcame the north easterly gradient wind forcing race officer, Ian Bullock, to abandon the race and the mark laying team to swiftly reset the course. The wind for the rest of the day remained broadly from the south, but never really established itself so the two remaining races were sailed in light and challenging conditions.
Team Dixon were the first to arrive at SWAC followed by Team Tweedle and finally myself who rolled in at a leisurely 10:30am. After rigging, attention turned to finely tuning John Tweedle's newest addition to the family fleet – daughter Caitlin's Europe, while the Finn boys wondered at the dinky, scaled down versions of their own beasts. At this point John was still intending to sail, however, keen potential of a new recruit appeared in the form of Iona Dixon, Callum's younger sister, appeared and a somewhat relieved John shifted responsibilities to the young Radial sailor (John can usually be found in a Finn and was subject to many "honey I shrunk the boat" type jokes).
After registration myself and John gave Iona an arm-chair based crash course in how to sail a Europe. At this point I think she was a little apprehensions of what to expect. The Europe has a lot more strings and things than a Laser but it's really quite a simple set-up. The four of us then had a picnic in the sunny boat park and waved off the Parents Dixon and Tweedle to go and enjoy the boat show.
The briefing was clearly set out and the Race officer was quite humorous in how he approached the briefing which was enjoyable. Afterwards we got changed, collected our trackers and launched.
None of us had sailed at SWAC before and it is a fair trek around the bottom of southampton to get to where the boatshow was being hosted, specially if you'r in a little boat! Soton Met had predictably under-read the breeze, claiming it was 16.8 knots when it was more like 25/30 knots. Memories of the final race at the nationals a few weeks before came back to me. "Death at Dalgety" one of my non-europe sailor friends coined it. Hopefully this wold not be so bad but just topping the 50kg mark, big breeze is not my thing!
Starting in nay pursuit race can be "interesting" but this was particularly "interesting" start! Down wind start gates are usually reserved for club racing or Cowes Week round the cans courses. Both europes lined up with a conservative gap to the line, being blown down towards it with the Lightening 365 that had miss-timed his start. The hooter went and we were off! We flew out of the start gate on a broad reach, playing in the gusts and the waves down the the first turning mark – a big green cone just off the end of Southampton. I took a quick dip in the water at this point (caught in a shadow as I rolled into a gybe round the back of a tug) and I waved good bye to Iona. Before launching she had said she was a good hiker – and she was not lying!
Leaving the big green cone to starboard we had a short one sided beat up to "Magazine" a small yellow mark on the Hythe side of the river and then a fetch down to a cardinal marker and then a gybe round to go through the start gate again. All boats had started by this point and I have already been overtaken by both OKs and the Lightning. Iona on the other hand was loving it, meanwhile the Finns were close together, wading through the back of the other boats.
I usually sail at Weston, just a few miles down Southampton Water from where the SBS Battle of the Classes was being held but conditions there are quite different. The North-Westerly we were experiencing was quite shift and heavily affected by surrounding buildings and ships. Also the traffic in and out of out race course definitely kept us on our toes! Cameron attempting a lee-bow on a 40ft clipper and myself holding up the Red Jet are just two of the near-misses encountered.
This was my second lap and the bigger boats were really starting to flood passed. The wind was showing no signs at this point of becoming more reasonable as I headed up to "magazine" on the close-hauled leg. Tacked round the mark - and on the fetch I was overtaken again, this time by some fast, pointy looking single handers, closely followed by the Finns. Along what turned out to be the final leg, the wind suddenly dropped to pleasant 13 knots. Rolling in amongst the standing waves and trying to avoid a massive yellow container ship we chased each other back down to the big green cone. Both of us managed to sneak ahead of the Albacore at this point and cleanly hooked the mark to head back up to magazine where the committee had elected to finish us.
On the way in the Dixon siblings switched boats – Iona was dwarfed by her brother's Finn and Callum looked unconformably big in the Europe. Despite suffering a few breakages and a swim, Iona came off the water with a brilliant grin – she had definitely enjoyed it. Cameron and Callum seems to also enjoy it although both said they prefer class racing in a boat like a Finn – who can blame them.
Congratulations to Bess Homer of Dalgety Bay SC, who showed everyone how to sail on her home water with a very impressive collection of first places! A fantastic champs with some great sailing!
1st GBR373, Bess Homer (Dalgety Bay SC) - 1st Lady
2nd GBR397, Andy Harris (Chew Valley Lake SC)
3rd GBR 30, Hamish Myles (Wormit BC)
4th GBR332, Emma Pearson (Weston SC)
5th GBR379, Ellen Clancy (Cotswold SC)
6th GBR367, John Sadler (Dalgety Bay SC) - 1st Master
7th GBR393, Geoff Newman (Chichester YC)
8th GBR327, Alyson Thompson (Loch Tummel SC)
9th GBR400, Ellie Clark (Ripon SC) - 1st Junior
10th GBR 3, Jack Douglas (Perth SC)
11th Craig Evans
12th Gavin Homer
Competitors were greeted with champagne sailing conditions for the first day of the OSSC joint OK and Europe event. PRO Andy Turner set a course which took the fleet out to sea for some Olympic courses and the fleet enjoyed some great racing in glorious conditions. Ellie Clark won both races, pursued by Debs Turner who took 2nd in both races.
Sunday was considerably windier and with a forecast of the wind increasing the course set made maximum use of the lagoon for some screaming planes, but also included a quick 'out to sea and back' to provide everyone with the challenge of getting back through the cut on an ebbing tide! Malcolm Morley won the first race and had a real battle with Simon Turner in Race Two, with Turner winning out. A fantastic event, which was won on count back by Ellie Clark (OSSC). Malcolm Morley was second, with Simon and Debs Turner finishing in that order - again split by count back.
OSSC have invited us back for 2017 - put the 10th/11th of June in the diary now and come and join in the fun!