So the 2017-18 SSW Winter Series is over – 10 races around the region’s beautiful in lakes, estuaries and coasts.
We experienced rain, fog, sub-zero temperatures and even a smidge of beautiful winter sunshine. There were a couple of casualties along the way… It took gusts of 55knots to blow away the Pirate, and the Beast from the East delivered more than a meter of snow to bury the Exmoor Beastie! Despite this, the first season of the SSW Winter Series has certainly been a blast!
A huge thanks to all the organisers, volunteers and those that took part in the races to make it so much fun. The series saw 247 different entries from around the region, representing 54 different clubs and 60 boat classes. The video review can be seen under the Series Review at www.sailingsw.co.uk/sw-series.
Perhaps unsurprisingly for a winter series, strong winds allowed both a Laser and RS200 to record staggering top speeds of 16.8kn during racing with a contender clocking in at 16.7kn in the final race too. The bigger classes seen together on the water were Blaze and Phantoms, with memorable images of 7 Phantoms fighting it out on the start line at Sutton Bingham and at Paignton where 9 Blazes lined up for the start. Cats were also on the water at RWYC in Plymouth and NDYC in Instow, adding a new dimension to the racing.
Consistency across the races was ultimately the key to success, but that was far easier said than done. The variable conditions and locations meant new and different challenges were thrown at the sailors around every turn. RS Aero 7 World Champion Steve Cockerill was the only sailor able to achieve a brace of race victories, coming out on top in both the Rocket and the Icicle.
Overall Series winners were Tim and Sarah Parsons from Lyme Regis SC in their Scorpion with really consistent scores across 6 races, 5 of which counted. Sam and Lianne Thompson sailing a Merlin Rocket from RNSA took second place overall with Ben Flower in a Laser in third and Simon Hawkes with his Phantom in fourth place. Hugh Kingdon who took fifth overall, won the battle of the Blazes.
So many favourable comments about the series were received from spectators and competitors alike. Phantom sailor Simon Hawkes summed up the SSW Winter Series as a fun, friendly but highly competitive series taking himself and many other competitors to clubs and waters they had never sailed to before. With a bigger, and even better series planned for 2018-19, all we can say is bring on October!!
Finally we’d like to offer a big thank you to the SSW Winter Series sponsors, Gul Watersports who generously donated £1500 of prize vouchers ensuring all are ready for the next winter! Until then, keep in touch with sailing events and activities in the SW at www.sailingsw.co.uk or search for ‘Sailing Southwest’ on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
For more reports, results, photos, videos and information about the series, click here...