This year, five Penzance and Mounts Bay Sailing Club dinghies once again began their new sailing season by crossing the border into Devon, for the 23rd annual Exe Sails and Covers Starcross Steamer.
The sailors were Penzance Commodore Dean Mooney with son Aidan in their Mirror, Colin Stephens/Mike Greig in an Osprey, junior Kian Andrews in the Laser and Tom Kliskey/Simon Lees and Jeremy Williams/Diane Stephens in their Enterprises.
Starcross Public Relations Officer John Donovan reported on the event – extracts include:
A comment widely used was “I’ve never seen the club so busy” as the 104 Starcross entries tried to find space to rig their boats. In the end over 90 boats took to the water on a rather damp day for the first of three races in the South West Challenge.
Looking at the weather forecast a week before the event it seemed the conditions would be quite challenging. As the days went on, the predicted strength of the South Easterly wind went down and down, until on the day there was only a faint breeze from the North West, 180 degrees from where it should have been.
So the original start time of 10:30 for Dean and Aidan in the sole Mirror, was put back to 11 o’clock. Spirits were raised when the faint North West breeze increased slightly, only for it to fall away again as the Mirror struggled to get to the first mark. Twenty six minutes later it was the turn of the Enterprises with very slightly more wind. By this time the Mirror was around the first mark and running down wind to the second, but the lack of wind after his start did not help his cause and he was soon caught by the following pack.
As the leaders started the third leg their wind picked up and they had the best of the breeze so far. Here the Enterprise of Jeremy Williams and a Solo were having a close race, handling the challenging conditions so well they were able to pull out a good lead on the chasing pack and looked good for the overall honours. Back at the start, where the faster boats (including Colin and Mike in the Osprey) were just setting off the wind died again.
Well, fate was going to come into play again. The South Easterly wind, which was predicted for so long, finally arrived but not at a time to suit the leaders. They rounded the downwind mark with a substantial lead and were well into the long beat back to the line. The chasing pack (which included Kian on his Laser) finally arrived at the downwind mark at the same moment as the expected wind from the South East and the beat turned into a run. The leaders were helpless against the dozen boats running them down.
At the other end of the course, the faster boats were still sitting in the almost nonexistent North Westerly, it was not a good day to start late. The wind did finally fill in over the whole course, so at least everyone could enjoy a few minutes of good sailing.
At the end of the race all of the top ten places were filled by single handers, the first double hander the Enterprise of Jeremy Williams and Diane Stephens from Penzance came eleventh, in fact there were only six double handers in the top twenty.
Laser – Kian Andrews – 5th
Enterprise – Jeremy Williams/Diane Stephens – 11th
Osprey – Colin Stephens/Mike Greig – 39th
Mirror – Dean Mooney/Aidan Mooney – 68th
Enterprise – Thomas Kliskey/Simon Lees – DNF