My thanks go out to anyone who has followed my series on Weymouth Speed Week. It has been a bit of a marathon, and isn’t finished yet. Some of you may have followed the link to the Weymouth Speed Week website on the internet, and as a result may well, already have a better understanding of this Speed Trial’s history and organisation than I have.
For anyone who hasn’t followed the link, I thought that I should try, as best I can, to say a little on the subject. Everything that I write, apart from a few distant memories, has been gleaned by reading up on the internet, and I may not always have understood what I was reading correctly, so no claims of accuracy are made. Indeed, I would welcome any clarification from those that know better.
I used to race sailing dinghies when I was much younger and around about the time that I started sailing, I remember the first Weymouth Speed Sailing event being held in Portland Harbour. According to the Weymouth Speed Week website, this was in 1972, making this event the oldest Speed Sailing competition in the world. This page gives some history of the event and also a description of how it is run today. The following summarises some of the main points.
- The courses are 500 metres in length.
- Courses are set according to the prevailing wind conditions. More information can be found here.
- If the course is open, competitors can take as many runs as they want.
- Good runs can take less that 30 seconds.
- Individual GPS data loggers are now used to record the position of each competitor throughout the day. See this link for a detailed description of the process.
As already mentioned, I started sailing back in the early 70s. Before I joined a sailing club, and while I was still teaching myself to sail, I used to launch my boat into Portland Harbour from one of the beaches. I remember seeing a ‘prototype’ dinghy, with what was in those days a pretty novel rig, parked in a local garden. I believed at the time that this was a potential contender for those Speed Trials. The ‘background’ link on the Weymouth Speed Week website provides some interesting information about the way speed sailing has developed around the world. It has become apparent that although boats, sailboards and kiteboard entries are all accepted, sailboards and kiteboards now dominate the competition, at least in Portland Harbour. According to the results, this year, the first boat came 71st, with a speed of just over 22 kts, compared to the winning kiteboard speed of over 36 kts.
In more recent years, the focus for Speed Sailing has moved to other parts of the world. Boats, kites and sailboards are all competing fiercely for the Speed Sailing records, and the current Outright Record stands at 65.45 kts. This is held by a boat and was achieved off the coast of Namibia. A cracking photograph appears on the ‘background’ link above.
It is a pity that Portland Harbour cannot now provide the conditions to achieve outright records, but it is great to see the Weymouth Speed Week continuing to flourish. Perhaps the locals of Portland are very happy that suitable conditions do not occur here regularly, since high winds can take their toll on a coastal community.
Don’t think that you aren’t going to get any more photos, this is, after all a photography blog. The set of 10 for this post follows.
I really must finish by thanking the Weymouth Speed Week organisers for providing the entertainment for both competitors, spectators and photographers, and also for their website, which has enabled me to learn more about how the competition is run today. I hope the organisers do not object to the links that I have provided in this post.
I haven’t finished yet! Please keep looking.