F18 TT – Hurricane 5.9 TT – Fast Cat Open

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13/14 April 2013, Carsington S.C.

Despite seeing weather reports for the week before declaring Derbyshire as clearly ‘off piste’ and a strong wind sailors paradise nine boats travelled from South coast, Home counties and nearby Rutland to join the four boats the home club put forward for the event. A reasonable turnout of 6 F18s allowed the event to count as a TT, but unfortunately with only 2 Hurricanes on the day they found themselves with few to race against and where in the end included in the Fast Handicap fleet start so they could get a good days racing in. Cameo appearances from Steve Tellwright, Phil Neal and Colin Pimblett were made and appreciated.

The event was organized quite late in the calendar when it was realized that the clubs annual catamaran open could possibly break into 100+ entry which would make it difficult to provide the best event possible. Decision was therefore taken to hold this event for fast catamarans and one over the weekend of September 21/22 for the not so fast variety.

Saturday Morning broke with cloudless blue sky, a gentle breeze and a beach full of fast catamarans raising masts and  tweaking the finest of details to make sure the weekends racing went without a hitch.. those that were not on the beach where either already setup or talking the opportunity to bulk up on some carbs for what was planned to be a windy and fun days sailing.  Having consumed the galleys entire stock of Bacon, Sausage and Egg Butties! these ‘body is a temple’ types geared up for the event briefing and Race 1.

Event Manager -  Simon Gillis, RYA Race Officer – John Poulson and Safety Officer – John Webster all agreed that with gale force winds forecast for Day 2 that a proposal would be given to all competitors to try and squeeze 5 races back to back into the day leaving the 6th Race on Sunday for the brave and only if needed. The agreement of the sailors was unanimous as it was previously discussed the night before in the local pub!

Race 1 – with the wind now up to F3/F4 and a perfect windward leeward course available RO John Poulson took no hesitation and started the race right on time. With all the fleet barring one opting to take the Starboard end of the line, this left old former champions Rob Levy and Pete Stokes(CSC) sitting on the Port end of the line..  The sequence completed and the start underway saw Levy & Stokes surely the oldest guys on the oldest boat beat the current cream of the F18 crop up to the windward mark surprising everyone!.. With kites raised, soon after the class leading Nacra Infusion piloted by Grant Piggot and first time crew Tori Akhurst(WSC) overtook the lead boat and the other F18s with the exception of one steadily reeling in Levy and Stokes over the course of the race. In the fast handicap fleet ‘A’ Classes of David Lowe (RSC) and Gordon Upton(RSC) lead up the beat and pretty much for the rest of the race swapped position until Gordon finally pulled away. Jamie Walker racing for the first time on his new Flyer platform after being sunk only 3 weeks earlier by an F18 at Datchet Cautiously chased the pack around the course coming a credible 3rd on the water only to be pushed out to 4th on Handicap by Fionnuala racing with ‘crew dad’ Des Barnes on the Spitfire. Spitfire development squad Youth sailors Julie Howarth and Henry Davies(CSC) played a safe game deciding to finish the race in what was turning into challenging conditions. Both Hurricane’s ventured out to the start and shortly after the boat of Andrew Bedford(DWSC) returned with gear failure leaving the remaining boat of Paul McKay and Richardo Espinso (DWSC) clearly coming first in their fleet. Andrew would not return to the event as the boat was un-repairable.

Race 2 saw a similar start but this time the cream of the F18 sailors were not going to be beat by the old timers up to the windward mark. The new guys did not have it all their own way though as a local tussle developed between Levy/Stokes and David Howarth/Pete Davies(CSC) for the 4th place spot, throughout the course of the race and indeed the event these 2 would be trading places and almost at some points be trading paint it was that close.. with the lower order sorting themselves out Grant & Tori again were streaming ahead of the fleet but a small battle was building between Andrew Gallagher/Catherine Gunning(BYC) & Tim Neal/Bob Fry(PYC) for the 2nd place spot. In the fast cat fleet David Lowe took line honours from Gordon Upton who was suffering after being tea bagged then capsized as a consequence of and F18 dropping a tack in precisely the wrong place!.. despite this the boat was quickly up and the 2nd place line honours went to Gordon although Fionnuala and Des pushed him into 3rd spot following the number crunching!.. With the wind picking up and on the last leg youth sailors Julie and Henry crashed out big style leaving them with a DNF and a boat that needed to be repaired, this was the end of a brave event for them.

Race 3,4,5 -  A similar pattern was now developing where Grant and Tori took it upon themselves to show everyone the way around the course. With the 2nd and 4th place battles still underway. The ‘A’ Class guys also traded places with the remaining Spitfire  and Race 3 would see the end of the event for the old but amazing guys Rob and Pete on the F18 as well as Jamie on the ‘A’ Class. Paul and Richardo did a sterling job and maintained their run of 1st place spots in a hurricane fleet of only 1 remaining boat.. good work guys, all that tweaking you did on Andy’s boat really paid off!.. First time pairing of Ian Molyneax and Alan ‘Yoda’ Jones on the infusion lasted to race 4 in what was fast becoming an endurance event.

Race 6 – Sunday – The Perfect Storm!.. after consulting with a couple of windsurfers using 3.5m rigs who stated it was ‘mega mad out there’ decision was to not take their word for it and not run the final race consequently the galley was liberated of its fresh supply of breakfast goodies once again!

Saturday evening and a party was planned.. much dancing, singing and a few quiet drinks were consumed. Overall the event was considered a success and Carsington Sailing Club thanks all those who attended or supported the event.  We can only hope the next cat event for us goes as well… 

Simon Gillis

Photos are by kind permission of Rob McPherson