Chris Brown, the perpetual Solo Championship bridesmaid, finally made it to the altar at the Solo End of Season Championships at Draycote Water Sailing Club on Saturday 24th October.
After many years of second places at Solo Championship events, Chris went one better against a competitive fleet of 65 boats, including many past national or international champions in a variety of classes, He was rewarded, not only with the trophy, but also a 2 minute ovation at the prize-giving for finally achieving this goal.
The forecast of rain and strong winds was expected to put many off, but the entry was just one off the previous year. Competitors were greeted on arrival with occasional drizzle and a fairly gentle breeze from the South.
The first race started in a force 3 wind. Chris Brown and, National Champion, Charlie Cumbley led throughout, building up a lead and were unchallenged by the chasing pack. They changed places several times during the race, but Chris got the gun in the end. Richard Pye came through the fleet to finish third.
After a lunch break, the wind had increased, to be closer to the forecast, and shifted to the west, allowing for longer legs. During the race the wind continued to increase and was generally force 4 to 5, with some prolonged force 6 gusts resulting in quite a lot of capsizes throughout the fleet.
As well as increasing, the wind also shifted further to the west, which resulted in quite a few place changes on the second beat as the seemingly favoured port tack became more favoured the further to the right you went. Richard Pye benefitted significantly from this and climbed up to first and then built a substantial lead throughout the rest of the race, with David Winder second and Simon Potts third.
With the wind still strong, many competitors chose to go for an early shower and only half the fleet started the third race. In the shelter of the clubhouse, many of those who had packed in felt they could have stayed out because it looked as if the wind had died. However, out on the water things were slightly different as over the first two laps 3 different people took the lead and then lost it through capsizing.
Once these 3 had gone swimming, Chris Brown and Ian Pinnell had a close race at the front, with Chris Brown just taking the gun and therefore the event. Andy Couch finished third.
At the prize giving, prizes were awarded to the first ten places, top 3 veterans (over 50) and spot prizes throughout the fleet (if they were present at the prize giving), resulting in nearly a third of the fleet picking up a prize!
Prizes were also presented for the various regional Travellers’ Series for 2009, wrapping up another active and competitive season nationally for the Solo class. The next big event is the Winter Championships at Grafham Water on 30th January 2010.