Had an amazing weekend at the first UKWA inland series event last weekend, which was held at Northampton Sailing Club, Pitsford Reservoir.
We had fantastic weather all weekend, although the wind kept teasing us on Saturday. It would fill in occasionally, but never stayed for more than 20 minutes or so, shifting all over the place. It was a relaxed start to the season, most people got out on the water for a bit to make the most of what wind there was to dust off some winter cobwebs. Race officer Mike Dempsey decided to run a few fun/training races. I spent most of the day revising in my tent: fun, fun, fun!
Sunday's forecast was gave 10-14 knots or so, so 6 races were run to make up for the lack of racing on Saturday. The forecast wind did not appear, until the afternoon and 3 races were run before lunch in a shifty 4-8 knots. I played it safe, keeping to the middle of the course although I made some losses and gains with the shifts, I worked hard to pull back to the front of the fleet, and my conservative tactics paid off with a consistent 2,3,1. Alan Jackson destroyed everyone in the first two races, deciding to head right out to the left, and winning by miles!
After lunch, the wind picked up, although still in a very shifty, gusty form! In race 4, I got a decent start, but struggled to find my speed upwind as a big bust came through. However, I pulled back some places on the downwind and next upwind to finish 2nd behind Mark Kay, who got a great start and had good board speed.
Mike Dempsey chose to change the course for the last two races to an "L" course, which added some fun reaching to the finish. I had a good start and managed to get a really good angle upwind too arrive at the windward mark first. The wind was still very patchy, and whilst I managed to find follow a gust on the downwind leg, others weren't so lucky; Mark Kay and Tom Naylor managed to find a hole in the wind, allowing Rob Kent and Guy Spreckly to take 2nd and 3rd. The last race saw a big wind shift leading to a very starboard biased start line. Unfortunately I went over the line during the last 30 seconds, so had to go round the end... to find a big long queue behind the committee boat for the favoured end of the line, so I started last! Somehow, I managed to outpoint the fleet upwind, and arrived at the windward mark in 2nd behind Mark. Again, I managed to find all the gusts downwind, and after the 3 lap race, I had a healthy lead. The gusty, shifty conditions shuffled the fleet up, giving some exciting racing
The new kit was working great, with the sail offering plenty of power in the light winds, whilst being easily adjusted as the gusts came through, it's light weight 6 batten design helped downwind pumping. The board allowed me to get on the rail in the smallest of gust, and point high upwind, and most critically: get planing, and stay planing on the gusty downwind legs.
In the end, finding consistency in the tricky conditions was the key, I took the win, and one discard saw Mark Kay and Rob Kent count consistent top 5 results to finish on tied points. Annette Kent won the ladies, whilst Aidan Liddy was first youth. With many of the top guys in the fleet now sailing the Starboard Phantom 377, expect the competition to only get hotter as the season gets going. Can't wait until the next event at Weymouth in a couple of weeks.
1st: Louis Morris (Starboard Phantom 377, Tushingham XR Race 9.5)
2nd: Mark Kay (Starboard Phantom 377, Demon 9.5) (1st master and heavyweight)
3rd: Rob Kent (Starboard Phantom 377, Tushingham XR Race 9.5)
1st super veteran: Alan Jackson, 4th overall (Starboard Phantom 380, Demon 9.5)
1st veteran: Tom Naylor, 5th overall (Starboard Phantom 380, Tushingham XR Race 9.5)
1st Lady: Annette Kent, 7th overall (Starboard Phantom 377, Tushingham XR Race 8.5)
1st Youth: Aidan Liddy, 16th overall (Tushingham XR Race 8.5)
Full results here