The Southern Area Championships were held at Shanklin Sailing Club over the weekend of 6th and 7th July 2002. The total attendance was 37 boats with 29 electing to use standard rigs and 12 sailing in Sprint mode. The event was attended with12 boats from Gurnard SC, 4 boats from Grafham, 3 from Queen Mary plus the host club and other mainland clubs.
Saturday's racing was to comprise two races sailed back to back with a start time for the first race of 13:30. The early morning North-westerly breeze was dying as the fleet left the shore and 10 minutes before the start the wind direct changed 180 degrees resulting a complete course change for the race officials.
With the South-westerly breeze starting to build the fleet of 35 all started on starboard at the favoured pin end. The racing was close throughout the fleet and on corrected time Robin Leather won from George Stephen second and Phillip Howden in third. Both George and Phillip were sailing standard Una-rig. Michelle Fisher sailed an excellent race to be second across the line and fifth on corrected time.
Race two was started in an increasing breeze but it became apparent that a large percentage of the fleet had sailed an incorrect course and the decision was made to abandon the race and re-sail on Sunday. This was particularly regrettable for Steve Cole who had established a big lead over the fleet.
Saturday night the club hosted a pig-spit roast that was enjoyed by all that attended.
Sunday dawned with a moderate South-westerly and light rain that dispelled the belief that it never rains on the Isle of Wight. After the course confusion of Saturday a simpler square course was set for the days sailing with a beat, reach, run and close reach making up the four legs. On the water a swell had built and the wind increased before the start of race 2. The increased wind favoured the Sprint sailors but Laurie Gustar sailing standard rig proved you do not need to be a heavy weight to excel in the stronger winds. The fleet again started at the pin end on starboard and with the increased wind a number of competitors capsized. During the race Bob Carter decided at the windward mark to start an impromptu training session on how to right a Dart 15. This was noted by most of the competitors who sailed past with words of encouragement for Bob. At the finish Robin Leather was the winner with Carl Blenkinsop second and Laurie Gustar third. Back in the fleet the standard rig sailors of Phillip Howden, Gordon Goldstone, Geoff Howlett, Paul Craft, Keith Newnham, Sean Strevens and Paul Tanner fought it out for places 5 to 12. Paul Airey using his height and weight to advantage sailed through to finish fourth.
With the wind up to 22 Knots a smaller fleet started race 3. Robin Leather set himself an additional challenge by capsizing minutes before the start and started well down after righting his boat. This mishap and a number of retirements gave the lesser lights the opportunity to shine. Paul Airey and Laurie Gustar were the earlier leaders but Gordon Goldstone, Phillip Howden, Paul Graft and Paul Tanner all featured near the front . Robin Leather sailed through the fleet but could not recover sufficient time and finished with his worst result of a sixth. Paul Airey again sailed well to take the gun and third on corrected time. It was local sailor Paul Tanner who took the win overtaking Laurie Gustar on the last beat and winning by half a boat length. The finishing order on corrected time was Paul Tanner first, Laurie Gustar second and Paul Airey third.
The fleet returned to shore for much needed break and refreshments.
The wind dropped over lunch and on returning to the water the fleet was greeted with a 12 to 15 knot breeze. With everyone trying to get the best start for the final race a large percentage were over the line and a general recall was sounded and the race restarted. Once the race was underway Carl Blenkinsop established an early lead and bettered his race 2 result by claiming first place followed by Robin Leather in second and Bob Carter third.
So after the four races Robin Leather was the eventual Championship winner from Laurie Gustar second and Carl Blenkinsop third. The best lady sailor was Michelle Fisher.
Click here to view the full results table.
Shanklin Sailing Club would like to thank all the competitors who travelled to the event and all the people that committed their time towards supporting the event. Thanks also to Erling Holmberg and Ian Bolton who stood down from sailing to provide an impartial Protest Committee.