by David Downs

A Mirror, the first of 100 boats, started the Starcross Steamer pursuit race at 11am on 16 January, with the last of the flood tide taking them up the course. 

48 minutes later when the 5 Ospreys started there was not that luxury and the ebb was already starting to set against them by the time they reached Mark 1. Phil Meakins and Nick Willis in 1347 made the best of the light winds to be the first Osprey round the mark followed by Terry Curtis and Peter Greig in 1281. 

There then followed a desperately slow spinnaker leg across to the East side of the estuary to mark 2 and then another light airs beat against the tide. At around this time the wind died to nothing and a major split formed in the fleet. 

Those who had made it to mark 3 mainly Lasers, Solos and Enterprises were swept off towards marks 4 and 5 while the majority of the fleet slowly drifted back towards mark 2. Just when it looked like we would have to wait there for the finish time to take us out of our misery a puff of wind appeared from further out in the estuary and it looked like Colin Stephens and Mike Greig in 1116 were going to overtake all the Ospreys but the puff of wind finished and was replaced by a puff of wind coming off the shore. 

Finally the wind filled in from the South West as forecast, spinnakers were hoisted and the fleet started moving towards mark 3. Phil and Nick had the uncomfortable experience of watching the fleet sailing towards them while they still had no wind. The consequence was that around 50 boats arrived at mark 3 at the same time. Fortunately the leading Ospreys got round before the resulting carnage! 

The Ospreys were finally able to stretch their legs in a decent breeze for what was now a beat with the tide to marks 4 and 5 allowing the leading three to get to the front of the main pack but with no hope of catching the leading group. This was not a good day to start late.

Nonetheless there was a reward for the Osprey team when Ros Downs was presented with the prize for top Lady Helm in the event. Phil Meakins, fresh from being the top Grandmaster at another recent event, led the Osprey fleet in 22nd overall. So Ospreys have made their mark at both events. 

The Starcross Steamer is part of a three event SouthWest Series, alongside the Roadford Rocket, on March 13th and the Exmoor Beastie, on March 20th. The events are all in similar format, of pursuit races of 3 hours duration. Sounds ideal for the many Ospreys in the SW.

 Osprey results 

22nd 1347 Phil Meakins and Nick Willis

23rd 1281 Terry Curtis and Peter Greig

24th 1114 Ros and David Downs 

39th 1116 Colin Stephens and Mike Greig

48th 1357 Paul Roberts and John Clark