Llangorse Sailing Club Single-hander Open
Jonny Everett downwind in his Supernova at the Llangorse SC Single-Hander Open
Photo © Will Willett
Ben Willett, overall winner of the Llangorse SC Single-Hander Open on General Handicap
Photo © Mark Pressdee
Llangorse held its annual Single-hander Open Meeting on 7th & 8th October. The entry list made for a mouth-watering contest and the mix of youth and experience set up several inter-family rivalries with some eye-watering outcomes...
Good breeze on Saturday meant three races back to back and a windward / leeward course to kick things off. The Topper fleet were first away. Eleven year-old Tommy Willett (Llangorse SC) went for the bias and popped out from the pin and tacked to cross the fleet. That gave him control and put him on the right where he found a right shift from the island shore to put him clear. Behind him Harry Pressdee (Mumbles YC) and Oliver Smoult (Llangorse SC) were in a tight duel downwind, always keeping a watchful eye on the others behind.
Five minutes behind them the General Handicap fleet got away with the Lasers and Supernovas also racing off the same start. Most opted for middle-left staying under the lay-lines but it was Mark Pressdee (Mumbles YC) in his RS Aero who showed amazing upwind speed to pop in from the right to lead at mark one. He was closely followed by Rob Dangerfield from the home club in his RS100 then the Supernovas of Jonny Everett and Will Willett. Downwind Will Willett escaped from the bunch to meet Rob sailing the angles into the leeward mark. The mark-room debate didn't last long; Rob nailed his spinnaker drop to round neatly ahead. As the race went on, the handicap fleet worked their way through the Toppers with some interesting exchanges and at the finish it was Tommy Willett and Will Willett who took line honours in the respective fleets. A quick tot up of the points made it look even between the other family teams too and the competition started to heat up but handicaps were still to have their say...
Races two was run using the club's fixed marks providing some great reaching and a long up-wind leg. In the Topper fleet Miles Everett got away and kept extending while Luc James, Tommy Willett, Harry Pressdee and Oliver Smoult all closed in to the final leeward mark together. A clearing tack pulled Tommy up into 2nd and he just held on to the finish ahead of Luc James in 3rd.
In the General Handicap fleet the faster boats stretched their legs on some spectacular reaches. Rob Dangerfield led into the first gybe mark closely followed by Jonny Everett in his Supernova. As Jonny closed in under a cloud of spray, already committed to the gybe he starting pulling stunts that got the expectant crowd to their feet on the clubhouse balcony. He managed to keep the mast in the air but it allowed Will Willett and Mark Pressdee to close in with Club Commodore Pete Thomas not far behind in his Phantom. By far the biggest threat though were Ben Willett and Ollie Vowles in their Laser Radials: In a building breeze their work rate paid and as Will checked for weed on his foils Jonny summed it up with a shout of "it's not weed that's the issue... they're just faster than you".
For race three the PRO changed things around and put in a starboard rounding at mark one to tighten up the reaches. Ollie Smoult led the Toppers but was closely marked by Tommy in second, Miles just behind in third. In the handicap fleet it was Rob first, then Jonny at mark one. Close behind them popping in from the right was Ben Willett in his Laser Radial sailing well above handicap and just ahead of Will in the Supernova. The debate about rule 18.3 and tacking in the zone was snuffed out with a comment of "you've been mugged off there Dad" as Ben rounded clear and disappeared downwind.
Decent breeze right across the course meant super-fast sailing that was not without its spills! Robin Smoult in a Laser Standard found the 'twitch' on several occasions before eventually putting it in to windward on the last leg right in front of son Ollie heading back upwind in his Topper... John Mason in his Supernova also interrupted his race with the odd dip and they weren't alone with some great conditions in the late afternoon. Claire Ellis in her Laser EPS made a brief and very welcome appearance afloat too not long back from injury, and Paul Woods in his Laser Standard also ventured out to enjoy the conditions for the last two races.
It was a great day: Serious and competitive racing in the right spirit that meant for lots of fun. Ultimately, at the end of three long races and a challenging day, youth prevailed: Tommy Willett sneaked through on the shifts in the final upwind to take his second win in race three and Ben in the Radial never allowed the faster boats to get away finishing among the Supernovas, just ahead of Ollie to give the Lasers a 1-2 on handicap.
Sunday dawned, and the flat calm meant a one hour postponement. Cups of coffee flowed but the final decision was inevitable and without needing to get the flags out, Race Officer Colin Fletcher assembled the sailors to announce "N over A" giving people the chance to travel home earlier. The wind never came and it was the right call; the series being decided by Saturday's three races. The prize giving was duly held in the clubhouse with the younger sailors occupying the front row. With a clean sweep on handicap, Ben Willett took first overall, pipping Will into second, just ahead of Ollie Vowles in third.
In the Topper fleet, Tommy Willett just shaded it, with Miles Everett second and Ollie Smoult third. With many family rivalries enjoying a lot of fun afloat and a very high standard of racing the outcomes were sure to heat up the journeys home and the young sailors held all the bragging rights... until next time!
Overall Results: (top three)
Ben Willett (Laser Radial) – 3pts
Will Willett (Supernova) – 7pts
Oliver Vowles (Laser Radial) – 10.5 pts
Tommy Willett – 4pts
Miles Everett – 6pts
Oliver Smoult – 9pts
Will Willett – 7pts
Jonny Everett – 11pts
John Mason – 29pts
Ben Willett – 3pts
Oliver Vowles – 10.5pts
Paul Woods – 23pts