Zhik Poole Week 2018

Zhik Poole Week 2018 – Day 6
Poole Week started on Sunday with rain, gales and no sailing. It ended on Friday with wall-to-wall sunshine, a perfect breeze and the Red Arrows looping the loop in the background. Small-boat racing in Poole Harbour – or almost anywhere else – doesn’t get much better than this. 
You would have to search hard to find better competition, too. Entries included an Olympic medalist, at least one former world champion and a sprinkling of current or former national champions together with squad sailors and seasoned campaigners on the national circuit. Among them, and making up the majority of the fleets, were weekend club sailors who race for fun but welcome the opportunity to pace themselves against top sailors. Poole Sailability entered two of their Hawk 20s and Gill Linford’s crew for the week in her Poole Dolphin was Chris (Frosty) Ford, visually impaired but a remarkably good sailor. He helmed the boat to fourth place in the crews' race when crew and helm in some of the fleets swap places for the last race of the week.
Many of the classes went into the final day’s racing with the top few places extremely tight. In the XODs, Willie McNeill had been tied on points with Nick Cornish but finally came out on top, as did David Lack in the Shrimpers when he scored his third successive bullet to win by a point from Rod McBrien. 
Pace-setters in the Flying Fifteens, Crispin Read Wilson and Steve Brown, didn’t sail on Friday because the boat was heading to Lake Garda for the Europeans to be sailed by Jon Gorringe once he had finished Poole Week in his Merlin Rocket. Pete and Jo Allam, who started the week with a win and scored nothing lower than a 4th, won overall by a single point from regular Poole Week visitors Ian Linder and Kevin Sweetman.
The closest finish of all was in the Merlin Rockets, where it had been nip and tuck between the top three boats all week. When Steve and Ally Tyler finished 3rd in Friday’s first race to Mark Waterhouse and Matt Currell’s 2nd, they made life hard for themselves and needed to finish at least three places ahead of their rivals in the last race to be sure of turning the tables. They won, but Waterhouse and Currell came third to make it a tie on points. With both boats scoring the same number of firsts and seconds, multiple levels of count-back were needed before Team Tyler was declared the winner.
In some of the other fleets, victories were more decisive. Colin May rose to the top in the Wayfarers and Chris Arnell, sailing his OK in the fast handicap fleet, had a near-perfect scoreline of 8 points from 7 races. 
And then there were the Lasers, a class for which for which Poole Week is becoming an increasingly significant event. Matt Reid had other sailing commitments on Wednesday, but two DNCs didn’t stop him winning by a healthy 9 points. The winner in the Laser Radials also had two DNCs, James Foster missing the first day but then scoring a series of 1st and 2nd places to win by a point from Ollie Sturley. Snapping at their heels in 6th place despite being several years younger was 14-year-old Arthur Farley, fresh from finishing top under-16 at the nationals in Plymouth. Poole Week’s title sponsors, Zhik, have already recognised young Arthur’s potential and are supporting his racing.
Despite the closeness of the competition, the week ended without a single protest. It reflects what Poole Week is all about: great racing in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. With Poole Week’s reputation growing as a must-do event, many competitors are already entering next year’s dates (18th to 23rd August) in their diaries and hoping to persuade their friends to come along too.
Aerial distractions during Zhik Poole Week 2018
Aerial distractions during Zhik Poole Week 2018
David Harding

Zhik Poole Week 2018 – Day 5
Some days you know you’re going to be lucky to get any wind. On the south coast, for example, when the pressure chart indicates a light northerly gradient and the temperature over the land is high enough to suck in a sea breeze, northerly fights southerly. All too often, neither wins and sailors are definitely the losers.
That’s pretty much what everyone was expecting on the fifth day of Zhik Poole Week. The flags in Parkstone Yacht Club's dinghy park initially fluttered to a zephyr from the north before hanging limply as boats started to launch at around 13:30. But then there was a faint stirring from the south. Although any sun was mostly milky and the weather far from scorching, was enough of a sea breeze going to fill in? The fleets starting from the Parkstone Platform – Darts, XODs, Wayfarers, Handicap (fast and slow), Dolphins and Shrimpers – wafted gently back and forth while Bob Jennings, facing the unenviable task of managing them, worked out where they could go.
He gave the Wayfarers what seemed like an adventurous course in the conditions – a shortish beat, followed by a reach to RoRo (whose name is a clue to its position) and another beat to Piccadilly off the western end of Brownsea Island. It would have been longer, but shortening at Piccadilly seemed prudent. For the second time this week it was Iain Lamey and Chris Jerman who got the gun (well, more of a hoot, but it served the same purpose). Bruce Gridley, who has acted as race officer during many a Poole Week, worked his way up from 4th to 2nd at the finish by hugging the Brownsea shore.
While the Wayfarers were touring the harbour, the rest of the Platform starters stayed closer to home and all managed one race even if the Dolphins and Shrimpers had theirs shortened. Robert and John Mulholland’s red-hulled Dolphin, D33, crewed by Richard Drew, was in the middle of the fleet on what was turning into a long slow beat against the tide to the windward mark. Rather than follow the leaders, they struck off to the right towards Brownsea, took the medicine as they crossed the strongest tide in the main channel, then tacked back on to starboard, crossed the fleet and found a RIB forming a line at the mark to give them a welcome first-place finish.
In the XODs, John Edmonds in Skiffle and Crispin Tombs in Ariel took the top two places. Edmonds led the fleet most of the way and extended further when many following boats misjudged the cross-current on the run and ended up fighting it to the leeward mark.
All this action centred around the Parkstone Platform was in contrast to a distinct lack of action in the harbour’s Top Triangle. There was nothing David Lush, race officer on the committee boat, could do after a couple of completely windless hours but send the fleets home. Still, one Poole Week visitor commented that it was nice to have a gentle cruise to the committee boat, a leisurely drift around it for an hour or two and a gentle cruise back to the club. There are indeed many worse ways to spend an afternoon, especially when the Bournemouth Air Show gives you something to watch in the background.
On-the-water battles will recommence on Friday for the final day of racing in Poole Week.
David Harding
Zhik Poole Week 2018 – Day 4
It was all action in Poole Harbour as over 200 sailors took to the water for the third day of racing in Zhik Poole Week. The promised north-westerly breeze was right on cue, typically ranging between 8 and 15 knots and behaving as north-westerlies in Poole Harbour usually do, flicking left and right in seemingly random fashion. Bob Jennings, PRO on Parkstone Yacht Club’s starting platform, recorded directions from 270° to 020°. Further up the harbour in the Top Triangle, the race team on the committee boat also had their work cut out, especially when it came to managing over-eager starters: the Flying Fifteens were the only fleet not to have any general recalls.
It wasn’t just the shifts that kept the teams on their toes. As heavy clouds passed over the harbour, the strength was up and down too. Crews would find themselves in light-airs mode one minute, then fully powered up and hiking the next – or, in the case of the Darts, out on the wire. The testing conditions clearly suited Geoff and Liz Sherwood, whose 1st and 3rd in the Darts’ two races moved them to within 2 points of the overall leaders, Peter Stacey and Suzie Clayton. Proving that you don’t have to spend lots of money or be a seasoned Dart sailor to win, Dave and Jan Pointer sailed the second-oldest boat in the fleet to victory in race 2. The Pointers are more often seen in their RS200, but a year or so ago found themselves being talked into buying a Dart. It now gets dragged out of the garage and dusted off for its annual outing in Poole Week.
The Cornish Shrimpers were another fleet to see a new winner, David Lack in Crabby Gaffer finishing ahead of Rod McBrien in the day’s race to narrow the overall gap to just one point. 
Continuing the theme of new Wednesday winners were the RS200s. It was a day for father-and-daughter teams to come to the fore, with Stewart and Jade Bowen taking the first race and Richard and Eliana Edwards the second, though Georgie Vickers – with various different crews – maintains the overall lead. She set the pace from Monday when sailing with Edd Whitehead, who had just finished 2nd in the nationals in Weymouth and claims to be an example of a helm who makes a terrible crew. 
As always in Poole Week, the XODs are pushing each other all the way. Willie McNeill leads the fleet but is tied on points with Nick Cornish, who has been in the class for many years and has found some extra pace this week at the helm of Alvine X.
Although no one is expecting much wind for the last two days, 200 sailors will be out in Poole Harbour for fun, for points or, in most cases, for both.
David Harding
Photos on www.SailingScenes.com

Zhik Poole Week 2018 – Day 3
Sailors have long known that they can take little for granted on the water, but one certainty in Poole Harbour is that each day is going to be different from the one before. Tides alone will see to that. When the wind also switches from a frisky north-westerly, as it was on Monday, to a light and patchy southerly with a hint of east, as on Tuesday, plenty of gear-changing is called for by those wanting to stay on the pace.
While this contrast between the first two days of racing might have accounted for some of the shuffling at the top of the Poole Week fleets, there’s now another significant factor: with most classes having sailed three or four races, one discard kicks in.
For some, being able to discard a poor result sends them shooting up the results list if their other finishes are appreciably higher. Others didn’t have a poor result to throw out, such as Ollie Sturley in the Laser Radials, who discarded a third from the first day and then posted a first and a second to move into the lead by three points.
In the full-rig (standard) Lasers, Matt Reid continued his winning form from Monday in the first race and, despite being pipped by Christiaan Wakefield in the second, he retains the overall lead.
Things are tighter in the Wayfarers and Dolphins, with the top two boats in each tied on points. The Wayfarers have a strong presence in Poole Week this year with 14 entries, among them the man responsible for the design of Parkstone Yacht Club’s new clubhouse, Iain Lamey. Following a break from sailing for a couple of years after selling his Flying Fifteen, Lamey joined the Wayfarers this year and used his knowledge of the harbour tides to good effect in Tuesday’s one long race around the harbour to emerge a comfortable winner. 
Back ashore, Mark Woodhouse of Hall & Woodhouse presented the winners of the day’s first races with eight-packs of Tangle Foot beer. Woodhouse is racing his XOD this week but thoughtfully avoided winning the first race so he didn’t have to present any Tangle Foot to himself, though he did finish fourth in the second race.
One happy recipient was David Wilkins who, crewed by his wife Frances in their RS400, was a convincing first-race winner in the fast handicap fleet. Their sail number also just happened to be one of the two drawn at random for the day’s Zhik goodie bags. 
As ever, Poole Week is much more than just racing but everyone is looking forward to the breeze and sunshine promised for Wednesday.
David Harding

Zhik Poole Week 2018 – Day 2
After Sunday’s rain and gales put paid to any racing, Monday brought what many competitors described as perfect conditions in Poole Harbour.
The wind, ranging between 6 and 17 knots, kept the crews trapezing or hiking hard much of the time but didn’t make life exhausting for the lighter crews. Its shifty nature also threw in plenty of tactical challenges as it swung from 270° at one extreme to 320° at the other. Plenty of places were won and lost on the shifts, especially later in the day when a strengthening ebb tide brought an additional element into play.
It was a day when being bold and pushing the corners was often the way to make gains, but there were plenty of snakes hidden among the ladders. Despite these challenges, three fleets saw the same winner in both their races. Matt Reid quickly stamped his authority in the full-rig Lasers to give himself a three-point cushion over Dominic Hall. Andrew Hartley leads the charge for the home club, having found both snakes and ladders with a 10th and a 2nd.
Another visitor leads the way in the Fast Handicap fleet, Chris Arnell and his OK securing two convincing wins while Kirsten Glen made few mistakes in her Byte to notch up an equally impressive scoreline in the Slow Handicap.
All told it was a day of good, nip-and-tuck racing and little drama, though the hotly competitive XOD fleet had two general recalls in the first race, dropping to the back of the starting sequence as a result. They showed a little more restraint in the second race when they only had to re-start once.
The man who came closest to experiencing any drama was none other than the chairman of Poole Week’s organising committee, Geof Gibbons. As he was launching his Flying Fifteen, another competitor pointed out that several strands of one of his shrouds had failed. Had this gone un-noticed, it would have led to a shredded spinnaker at the very least and possibly much worse. The crew of a visiting Fifteen kindly produced a spare. After it had been made to fit, Geof reached the start with seconds to spare and was so eager to go that he was OCS. Starting from the back of any fleet is making life hard for yourself, but Geof and his crew, Dave Noy, worked their way through to third. To cap an eventful day, Geof later found himself the recipient of a Zhik goodie bag when his was one of the two names drawn at random during the daily prizegiving.
Any competitors who left the water with aching muscles are probably looking forward to lighter winds promised for Tuesday. Whether a change of strength and direction will bring new names to the front of the fleets we will have to wait and see.

David Harding

Zhik Poole Week 2018 – Day 1
For much of this season the met men have struggled to predict what’s going to happen barely 12 hours in advance: those of us on the central south coast would have been better off ringing granny in Penzance (or Brightlingsea, depending on the wind direction) and asking her to look out of the window.
As far as this Sunday was concerned, however, the forecasters seemed to be in no doubt several days ahead. It was going to be wet. And windy. And generally ‘orrible as far as any form of boating was concerned. And they were right. 
Unfortunately, Sunday was also the first day of Zhik Poole Week. By the time the competitors had gathered at Parkstone Yacht Club for the briefing at 11am, the rain had already set in (slightly early – the met men weren’t that good). The wind, on the other hand, wasn’t frightening, even if rain always makes it feel at least 10 knots stronger than it really is. Parkstone’s starting platform was registering a manageable 17 knots gusting 23, but much more was promised. Principal Race Officer, Steve Tyler, announced that a decision would be made about the day’s racing at 12:00, by which time gusts over 30 had been recorded. Flags N over A (no racing) were duly hoisted, much to the relief of those competitors who had already made the decision to stay ashore but were pleased not to see their chances of success during the week compromised. 
Some people went home while others stayed at the club to eat, drink and be merry, looking out through the rain-lashed windows as Brownsea Island and Sandbanks disappeared in the murk. Most were pleased not to be out there especially when, during the afternoon, the wind in the harbour averaged 25 knots for a while and peaked at 39 knots.
The loss of a day’s racing in Poole Week doesn’t mean there won’t be a prize-giving, however, because the random draw for the day’s Zhik goodie bag goes ahead regardless and any competitor can win. This brought everyone back to the club for the evening, many taking advantage of the food and drink vouchers included with their entry.
Zhik Poole Week continues until Friday, with conditions looking much better for the rest of the week.


Zhik Poole Week 2018