A total of 31 boats turned out for the Flying 15 southern area championship in the Solent

Thirty one Flying Fifteens travelled to Cowes, IOW to spend the late May Bank Holiday competing in the Southern Area Championship in the Solent. Such is the attraction of racing in the demanding conditions at Cowes that boats came from as far as Majorca and Ireland to compete under the Burgee of the Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club. Five races were scheduled and sailed; two on Saturday and Sunday with one Monday.

The Principal Race Officer, Ian Lallow, elected to set the courses in the central Solent over and around the Brambles Bank with a committee boat start. The first race on Saturday started in light and variable breeze with relatively slack tide. Alan Bax and Paul Bushby were first to emerge from a scrum of Hayling Island Sailing Club boats who arrived together at the windward mark. The variable wind restricted tactical racing on the reaches and helped ensure bunching at the gybe mark with inevitable nautical verbal exchanges. The leading Haying pack was soon joined Mike Hart and Tim Hall in 3817 and Jonathan and Gill Hill in 3518. The fleet soon began to extend out as the race progressed. Greg Wells and David Tullooch in 3776 finally took line honours with the tail of the fleet just managing to finish within the 30 minute time limit. The Second race followed a similar pattern with Greg Wells and David Tullooch again taking line honours with by Sue and Barry Parkin in 3630 and Brett and Ben Dingwall in 3603 taking the next two places.

Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny with not a breath of wind. Undaunted, the Race Committee said the first race would start on time. As the fleet sailed out to the racing area a westerly breeze began to strengthen. Most of the fleet favoured the committee boat end of the line for the start. However, many under estimated the strong tide pushing them towards the Committee boat resulting in much bunching, barging and barracking in the final seconds to the gun. Despite this all boats got away without a general recall. The wind gradually strengthened on the beat to the windward mark. The tide favoured a port tack approach concentrating minds and tactics for rounding. Unfortunately, Greg Wells and David Tullooch in 3776 were holed in the bow at the mark sadly ending their weekends racing after two wins on the previous day. They were slowly towed back to the Cowes Corinthian for the boat to be drained and lifted out. Barry and Sue Parkin took line honours closely followed by Adrian Tattersall and Tim Smart in 3675 with 3796, Javier Chacartegui and Joaquín Cobarro from Club Pto De Pollensa, Mallorca, Spain taking third place. By the start of the next race the wind had picked up to Force 3-4 with the odd 20 knot or so gust. Another clean start followed by a lively beat in choppy seas provided for exciting sailing. The conditions claimed the mast of 3675 ending the racing for Tattersall/Smart team. Alan Bax and Paul Busby took line honours with 3817, Mike Hart and Tim Hall a close second with Simon Kneller and David Lucas in 3699 third. Once again the day’s racing was relaxingly analysed over the odd beer and supper in the Club Marquee.

Monday’s race was over the same course as previously in light but steady westerly breeze. Mike Hart and Tim Hall took line honours with Barry and Sue Parkin second and Mike Gilbee and Tim Cox from Parkstone in 3625 a close third.

The prizegiving was held in the Club Marquee as soon as everyone was ashore, showered and watered. Barry and Sue Parkin from Hayling Island Sailing Club were the Southern Area Champions with Sue also wining the trophy for the highest placed lady. Mike Hart and Tim Hall from Port Dinorwic Sailing Club were second with Alan Bax and Paul Busby, also from Hayling, third. Brian Campbell-Bottoms and Martin Grady in 3175 were highest paced ‘Silver Fleet’ boat and Andrew Rutherford and Shelia Duffy from the Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club won the ‘Classic Fleet’ prize in 1857.