SAMM loses their Commodore – to the Ocean! By Mike Phillips

Christmas Lunch
Christmas Lunch

Our annual Christmas Lunch at Toscana in Roldan on Saturday 10th December was tinged with sadness and joy. A small task force arrived early to decorate the private function room to make it suitably festive for the occasion. The staff were impressed with the transformation and we agreed to leave it that way until the end of the festive season. Maybe that was why we received a complimentary Limoncello or Bailey’s at the end of our meal!

Christmas Lunch
Christmas Lunch

Yes, it’s true. We’re losing our lady Commodore Dawn Morgan after only 9 months because she is going sailing for 2023; not just to any Ocean, but she is sailing to the Arctic Ocean in a 50-foot boat with a companion! Dawn is not just any lady, she served in the RAF, has run a Safari Park in Africa and believes life is for living. Her voyage has a purpose. Leaving England via the Irish Sea and Scottish Isles they head to Norway and then to Iceland, Greenland and the Northwest passage.

In 1845 HMS Terror and HMS Erebus left England to explore the Northwest Passage of the Canadian Arctic. The expedition became a disaster when both ships became icebound near King William Island. Led by Captain John Franklin it has become known as Franklin’s Lost Expedition. In 2014 the Canadians discovered the wreck of the Erebus and two years later the Terror. The wreck site, where 129 officers and men lost their lives, is now a National Historic Site and attracts further research annually. SAMM will be following and reporting on the progress of Dawn’s adventure via a dedicated YouTube Channel.

Whilst bidding farewell to Dawn, we were also pleased to introduce our first four Russian members to the SAMM community. They left Russia in 2014; two coming to Spain after time living and studying in France and two after living in the New Forest in England. They are all experienced sailors, but need help getting their qualifications recognised in Spain. Two are keen to venture well outside the Mar Menor so can find opportunities with our Cruising Group. They have already helped our Balaton group with maintenance of one of their 5-6 metre yachts. They are so pleased to have found, not just a sailing club, but a friendly social community.

As a Spanish Sports and Cultural Association registered with the Comunidad of Murcia and Town Hall of Los Alcazares, SAMM has a history of creating social groups to complement our sailing activities such as Cycling, Petanca, Ten Pin Bowling, Day Trips and our recently formed Golf Social group. If you want to form a Water Sports group for an aspect we don’t cover now, we can help with that too. In 2023 we’re looking to revive our activities now the restrictions of the pandemic are receding. Across our groups we have members as qualified divers and specialists in outboard motors etc, but are always looking for more. If you are a First Aider, a Paramedic, have experience of running social activities or would like to talk to our monthly meetings on your experience in, say, sailing in the Greek Islands or Turkey, please get in touch with us at www.sailingmarmenor.com 

Challenging Conditions for Sailors

With the near gale force NW winds of Saturday set to continue overnight and into Sunday morning the SAMM race organisers almost decided to cancel, but with a downward trend forecast, decided to go ahead, but everybody was surprised when they arrived at CTD at 10.00am, there was almost no wind. 

Approaching the start
Approaching the start

Just before the first race start at 11.00am the wind kicked in from the WSW at 6-7 knots and the start was good. For the first time this season all three sailfish 18’s of the Balaton Group were racing together with two Shoestring dinghies and John Down in his Laser Radial. Five of the boats crossed the line soon after the gun, but Balaton’s Ginetta had a sail malfunction and did not make it. John led from the start, was flying round the square course, had lapped one boat by the end of lap three and was close to lapping others; then the fun started. After having blown fairly steadily, halfway through the race, the wind suddenly gusted to 10-12 knots and swung to the west, which caught out a few boats. Then it dropped back, only to gust again to over 14 knots and swing back to WSW. Most boats coped well, but John almost started swimming as he capsized five times in as many minutes! For a man of close to three score years and ten he showed remarkable agility, preventing the boat going fully over by stepping smartly onto the dagger board to right her and not actually getting wet. At the end of the race the crew of Shoestring Dos decided they had had enough and went ashore while those on Cuatro decided to reef their sails.

Robert Hudson, right and Jurgen Reimann, left
Robert Hudson, right and Jurgen Reimann, left

The second race started at 12.15pm with the wind W at 7-8 knots. It was a good start with a procession over the line led by Sirocco, followed by Ginetta, Cuatro, Vision and John’s Laser a minute later. John soon took the lead. His boat is the fastest in the fleet, but all the others were also screaming round the course except Ginetta who often seemed not to have her jib set correctly. By now the wind had dropped a little in strength but again kept gusting and swinging every 15 to 30 minutes, making this the most challenging day so far this season. Everybody had a great race, with tactics playing a big part, especially on the upwind leg from mark three to the start/finish line. Sirocco and Vision were having a real tussle, completing each lap within seconds of each other. Unfortunately at the first mark of her last lap, Vision was caught out by yet another wind direction change, had to tack at the last minute, impeded another boat and was forced into a 360 penalty. The crew took a long time to sort themselves out and get going again and this probably cost them the race.

Finally the results were calculated, handicaps applied and the winners declared. The results were a one-two for Sirocco and Vision in both races and, for the second week running, Robert Hudson and Jurgen Reimann were the winning crew this time on Sirocco. Well done guys!

Where is the wind this autumn? Late!

Three different on-line forecasts predicted winds of 10-13 knots on Sunday December 4th, perfect for the SAMM race competitors. What did they get? Zilch, nada, a flat calm.

Winning crew Steve Hall and Dianne Hardwick
Winning crew Steve Hall and Dianne Hardwick

The race officer decided to postpone the 11am start of the first race to 11.30am, then 11.45am, then an hour but by then the competitors were getting restless so he took a chance the wind would build in and started the race at 12pm. Still nothing except a faint breath of air occasionally which enabled the two smaller, faster Shoestring Group dinghies to commence racing, but two of the bigger Balaton Group boats could not even make the start line and retired after multiple attempts.  The third Balaton did manage one lap, but took 30 minutes and then was becalmed about half way round the second lap and decided to call it a day. This left a battle for the win, Omega finally triumphing with 3 laps averaging 1050 seconds over Cuatro’s 2 laps at 1561 seconds. When you realise that normally average lap times are 300-500 seconds you can see how slowly they sailed; understandable in the conditions. Nobody wanted to try for a second race so it was abandoned. Everybody put their boats away and went for lunch. That’s when the wind showed up at about the forecast strength. Somebody’s law comes to mind!

The only good thing about the day was some very atmospheric photographs.

Find out more about SAMM and the racing have a look at www.sailingmarmenor.com