Updated: May 30
Paignton Sailng Club held it's annual open event for single handers over the weekend of 20/21 May 2023. Commonly referred to as POSH (Paignton Open for Single Handers) this years event had two Wētā sailors join a multitude of other classes in this fantastic venue referred to as the English Riviera. This is how things went down -
Friday 19th - both sailors arrived late afternoon and proceeded to find a spot in the club boat park as we had been informed we would be launching from inside the harbour with a fleet of K1s. We needed to find enough space to rig our boats and it soon became apparent that if another couple of Wētā had been present things would have been very cosy on the hard standing. Neither of us had been to this venue before and after getting set up we headed off to find our accomodation for the weekend which was just over the road from what was to be the boat park for the other visitors who would be launching off the beach.
While we would have loved to have launched with the other fleets we discovered that the access to the beach would have been quite tricky for the Wētā. The ramp down from the road side and prominade was perfect for monohulls but it would have been a test for us to have got down there, especially on the Sunday when even the other fleets struggled due to the height of the water and no beach being available. More on this later.
We woke to a glorious day and from the bedroom window I could see the flags on the harbour wall flying straight out, and with a forecast 10-12knts gusting mid-high teens this was looking good. It was a leisurely start to the day as other out of towners arrived throughout the morning, before the competitor briefing was held at 11am in the clubhouse.
We had been assigned the third start behind the 'Fire' fleet who racing their own series of races over the weekend and the slow handicap fleet who were participating in POSH. The course for both days was to be a trapezoid course with either two of three windward legs depending on wind strength and prospective race length.
Race 1 -
Does it feel like the breeze is droppping? Yes. It was hard work getting the Wētā up to speed and trying to find a clear path through the fleet proved even trickier. Let's just say I wrote that one off in the hope the breeze would build and make it at least possible to sit out on the floats.
Race 2 -
A better start and slightly clearer air but with the wind dropping it was a simply a job of keeping the bow down to keep some speed up to try and punch through the chop. I was struggling to find the balance of speed verses height and very quickly realised the angles I was sailing just weren't effective. I could close the gaps on the reaching parts of the course only to loose any gains on the beats and downwind.
Race 3 -
The wind was now dropping further and everyone was drifting around the course.
Watching the monohulls roll tacking their way up the course was a bit demoralising but i still managed to gain a few places on the earlier two races so I simply counted that as a gain to build on tomorrow. The conditions were definitely not as forecast and the return to shore had me wishing for a paddle (which I had left at home).
Saturday ended in the clubhouse with a fantastic curry and desert before we filtered off to rest for next days racing.
More breeze was forecast and as we were rigging for an earlier start this certainly appeared to be the case with what felt like a solid 10-15knots. This was looking good.
However,with an earlier start expected and increased wind and waves, those launching from the beach found no beach to be had and they were not keen to try and launch directly from a concrete ramp on what was almost a Lee shoreline. This lead to a postponement by the race officer until the beach crew could start getting boats in the water. Eventually all boats from the harbour and beach got word it was all go. With the breeze coming straight into the harbour the K1s and ourselves were kindly towed beyond the entrance before being released to sail out to the course in choppier conditions than Saturday. The increased breeze meant the Wētā felt much better than the day before and was popping nicely off the top of some small swells and the leeward float sending up nice amounts of spray. Would the delay in launching be a good thing or would we be lamenting the delay and have the wind drop like the day before?
Race 4 -
On the beats the Wētā managed to be further up the fleet as we could point higher than previous races which meant we could be more competitive upwind than yesterday. Once at the top of the course we could unfurl the gennaker and set off blasting across the reaching legs making up places as we went. While positioned out on the floats fully powered up you could hear the occasional comment made from others pleased to see the Wētā finally doing what it does best.
On the windward legs with the increased breeze I found I could point as high as the Hadron2 I had gained on and there certainly appeared to a good amount of ground to be made up by staying on the left side of the course upwind, but that meant picking the approach to the top mark would be crucial.
Once again, getting around the top mark cleanly and trying to work a clear lane down wind before attacking the final reaching legs to the finish was the aim, and Patrick Lyon sailing Trident seemed to have this dialled and was seen to sail well down to leeward picking off places as he went.
Race 5 -
The chop had peaked and the wind had dropped to levels only marginally better than Saturday. It was still enough to get the foils working which meant pointing was more in line with what was to be expected. However, that wind was definitely starting to drop.
Race 6 -
Where's the wind gone? Back to light wind tactics and just keeping the boat moving was the sole focus. I was pleased to finally reach the finish but it was tight between a small number of boats all struggling to drift across the line and with the multiple tacks all within the final 10-12 boat lengths it really was anyones guess who could position themselves correctly to get across without impeding anyone else.
And that was POSH2023.Did I wish there was more breeze, you bet! Did I enjoy the hospitality of Paignton SC, absolutely! Would I recommend you to go if you haven't been, do it!
Let's hope POSH2024 has a few more Wētā in attendance (I've already warned them we may need more boat park space). Pencil in the first or second weekend in May 2024 and we'll see you there.
Finally a huge thank you to Paignton SC for putting on the event, all the helpers from registration to beach crew, and not forgetting those who arranged and served the Saturday evening meal. Stirling effort to all.
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