As ever Poole Slalomers showed their perseverance and adaptability by making the most of the changeable conditions at Baiter Park on the evening of Thursday 26 May 2011. Ed Britnell reports…
On arrival, with the wind fairly easy to gauge and still westerly, most people chose to rig 7.0′s to 7.8′s…. Only then to find that by the time they got on the water, the wind had shifted to the north a bit and it was also ABSOLUTELY HOWLING, especially over the other side towards Brownsea Island…. tail walking and slammings were common place and it was truly brutal!
On the plus side though, this did enable me to lay a simple downwind slalom course close to shore at Baiter because it was still windy enough even in this relatively sheltered zone. We managed to hold two races here using a very approximate starting order which ensured all involved had a fair crack of the whip…. Jim Crossley and Chris Martin both sailed well, working their way through the field to pick up some podium places. Also making an immediate impression (although not necessarily for the right reasons) was relative Poole Slalom newcomer Chris Beng, as he managed to take me out BIG STYLE at the first start, luckily no harm was done and it was graciously received… that was until the second race where he proceeded to take me out AGAIN at one of the gybe marks, and with such military precision that it left me wandering if he was on Cribby’s pay role!…. Talking of whom, needless to say was gybing almost flawlessly, staying on the plane round the corners more than anyone else and came away with a couple of bullets. The other hot favourite James Dinsmore (recently 3rd in Weymouth BSA) finished 2nd in the second race. For his first race though, perhaps even he might admit he extended his nationwide renowned “gentlemanly conduct” a bit too far, as he was still waiting patiently on the start line when Chris and i had surfaced from our dunking!
After the second race the wind eased and had swung further round to the north west, so it became obvious we needed to move the course. After a bit of reccy work from myself, for the third race we headed off to Brownsea Island for the longest leg and race of the evening. And were it not for one of the most basic and cardinal of errors from Messrs Cribb and Dinsmore, i’d now be reporting a Cribb clean sweep. As it was though, they had become so engrossed with their duelling that they completely forgot to concentrate on the sailing instructions and sailed the wrong course! That’s right, it happens to the best, and the only two sailors to whom all the rules actually applied totally fluffed it, and in the process handed me a first place – thanks chaps! …. I always thought that Cribby was prone to leading people astray, but for it to happen to someone as straight laced as James, i’m truly in shock! … and what a golden opportunity for him to put the pressure back on Cribb just thrown away, doh!
For the fourth and final race, the wind started jacking up once again and i wandered if it had been such a good idea to lift my boom up after all…. Anyway, it was business as usual with a Cribb and Dinsmore 1st and 2nd, but this time with Jim Crossley and Simon Pettifer hot on their heels in 3rd and 4th.
A big mention should also go out to Brendan Gould, Nick Shuttleworth and Roddy Cooper and everyone else who was there from start to finish and illustrated exactly what Poole Slalom is about… enthusiasm, determination, steady improvement and having fun…. Its quite incredible what the average sailor can actually learn by watching the likes of Cribb and Dinsmore gybe right in front of you… i mean – you can read all the magazine articles and watch all the videos you want, but nothing actually compares to being there and seeing all the little movements for yourself.
I’ve attached what i think is the best picture to illustrate just how windy it was early on, the star being Chris Martin…. although i can’t work out if he is holding his hands up in total surrender to the conditions, or he’s waving “bye bye” to his kit because he loves it so much!
Please find the rest of the pictures from the session here – thanks again to Paul Beames: www.beames.info/poole-slalom-26th-may-2011/