HANSA Open meeting 2023
The Notts County Sailing Club HANSA open is always a favourite, good food, helpers and good race organisation.
A healthy total of 19 boats turned up at NCSC to contest the latest round of the HANSA open series coming from as far afield as London, Swindon, Farnham, Clyde, New Forest and more locally Northampton, Swarkstone, Rutland and of course Notts County.. Despite a very light forecast this was the largest turnout at NCSC since the National Championships held here in 2016.
Race Officer Dave Snutch and his regular support team of Sue and Paul Barnes were joined this year by John Rowell. Dave has been a constant RO at the event since 2014 and remarked in his opening briefing that with just one exception, the 2016 Nationals that was dogged by weed, he had always been blessed with constant southerly breezes…today was to present an entirely different challenge.
With news that two competitors had been held up by an accident on the A1 and one had been to Nottingham SC and with winds varying between zero and 2 knots an 1100hrs start as per schedule was always an unlikely prospect.
The race team attempted to set a first course in light puffs appearing to come, on average from the north….. or was it west? … or actually was it east!! It became obvious from how long it was taking for boats to reach the start area that the course, as laid, would be far too long for the target 30 minute duration races so a nifty bit of mark moving followed.
After watching the burgees on Triton, NCSCs new committee boat, do a full rotation of all possible compass points it did seem that at about 1135, a north easterly beat was possible so the start sequence commenced.
Alas….. with around 50 seconds to go it became apparent that not a single boat was within 4 boat lengths of the start line and many even further back so the AP was smartly raised and a decision taken to give it 10 minutes more then abandon for the morning. Nothing materialised so an early lunch it was.
As competitors sat on the balcony watching the wind come and go, our resident pair of Egyptian Geese grazing the foreshore, and our nesting Oystercatcher terrifying the crows, discussions were held with fleet reps and HANSA coach as to the best course of action for the afternoon.
The decision was to go out for a start attempt between 1:30-1:45, start if there was any suitable wind, give it 30-40 mins if not, then abandon if best efforts failed.
As if by magic, at around 1.20 a steady, albeit gentle breeze filled in. Completely in the opposite direction to the original course so Ian Ogden and his safety rib team did a sterling job swapping all the flags, shifting marks and resetting the line.
Bang on the target window… around 1.40…. a race got underway.
The Liberty fleet were first to start and a lone boat Peter Pearson chose the pin end and appeared to have taken a massive early lead however he was thwarted by a hole near the windward mark and he promptly saw his gain disappear…. much like the pesky wind which was already back to its old tricks.
The second fleet consisting of the 303 single and double handlers and the 2.3 made an all clear start 5 mins after the Libertys and it was Rory McKinna who took an early lead.
Progress was slow but at least things were moving and with the first lap taking around 12 minutes it seemed sensible to send them around for a second.
The Libertys were well spread but the mixed fleet remained all very close with the exception of the runaway leader.
As the Libertys approached the windward mark for the second time the inevitable happened, the wind had virtually disappeared again. Thoughts of shortening were discussed, but the mixed fleet leader had already gone through, in fact, he wasn’t far off the tail of the Libertys.
After a bit of common sense thinking, The Libertys were finished at mark 2, the leading 303 who by now was halfway up the second beat, was awarded the win and for the rest of the mixed fleet an official shortening allowed for quite a spectacular finish.
Notable mentions must go to Lindsey Burns in the 2.3 who was right in amongst the finishers… 1st and only boat in her own class but 4th on the water was a superb effort and Notts County sailor Deb Pennington. Deb is an ever present in the NCSC menagerie fleet and it was great to see all her practice paying dividends and this was for sure her best result in a HANSA event.
With little prospect of any more suitable breeze the RO decided to call it a day. Not the open anyone would have wished for but at least everyone got a bit of sunshine and fresh air and above all a regatta result which allowed some very attractive prizes to be distributed.
The race officer passes on his thanks to the HANSA fleet for their patience and understanding.
Prizegiving was held and Pauline the Caterer thanked, along with the Race and safety Team.
Photos: Graham Stamper (labeled) and David Eberlin