The Stokes Bay Open saw a record entry of 48 MUSTO Skiffs, which is the biggest open meeting for the class to date. With a large local fleet from Stokes Bay (20 boats), the entry numbers have been Climbing rapidly over the last few years at this popular open meeting.
The fleet looked out over a Still, foggy Solent and were kept on shore until the visibility improved and the wind increased.
The first race got away in a 12 knot South Easter, but decreased during the race. George Hand, realising that Nothing else matters, took the first race and made clear his intentions to keep his title from last year. He was followed by Dan Kilsby and Ben McGrane. McGrane showed he Can’t slow down in the second race to beat Ben Schooling across the line, with Tarboton taking 3rd. After crossing the finish line, the MUSTO Skiffs realised that the B14 fleet had a Long long way to go to the finish and waited patiently for them. During the starting sequence for the third race the breeze picked up quickly, shifted to the North and started raining, so PRO Mike Rayden wisely decided to call it a day and sent the fleet home.
Dan Vincent has shown that he is Still in Love with a MUSTO Skiff, by returning to the class and once again running one of his legendary quizzes. After a few beers, the fleet thought the quiz might be Easy, but it proved to be far from it.
The highlight of the quiz began with quiz master Dan, asking the fleet to take notes while his sidekick, Richard Pelley, played an out-of-sync music video of Lionel Richie’s 1984 hit Hello
The task was to create a sculpture of Lionel Richie’s head like the one shown in the music video. Luckily all the children were tucked up in bed as not all of the sculptures were suitable for a pre-watershed audience. Surprisingly many of the sculptures were Truly good, showing the hidden talents of the fleet (or at least their wives). It is rumoured that late into the evening the Scottish representative took over the bar, in order to keep the beer flowing All night long.
The first attempt at a race on the Sunday was abandoned as the boats approached the top mark, but was later restarted in a light South Wester. McGrane took an early lead and managed to escape the chaos at the spreader mark when the breeze shut-off and Kilsby, Bruce Keen and others, having rounded the top mark, then drifted down-tide and had to beat back up to it. After taking what felt like an Eternity to get round the mark, Kilsby, Keen and Tarboton, were able to Sail on and, as they were so far back they could see that the breeze was further offshore and were able to overhaul McGrane’s huge lead on the final beat. Kilsby took the win, with McGrane second and Mike Sims third.
The fleet split in the second race of the day with the offshore route paying again, with Jamie Hilton taking the win, followed by Mike Dencher and Sean Thijsse.
Richie’s songs Stuck on you or Don’t you ever go away must have been going through the head of the sailor who was rafted-up on the pin end boat at the final start. The only one who got away cleanly from the pin was Tarboton who went on to take the race win.
McGrane had done enough to win the event without having to finish the last race, with Kilsby taking second and Keen third overall.
The fleet said Goodbye to Stokes Bay and look forward to seeing another record entry for the Nationals at Castle Cove in August.