Thursday, 28 August 2014

Pwllheli race report

August bank holiday weekend this year, like last year, meant venturing to the Lleyn peninsular in north Wales for two days of racing in the fantastic venue that is Pwllheli. I've written mostly about the Raceboard fleet because I know a bit more about what happened than in the other fleets. Unfortunately, there were only 9 raceboards, why don't all these inland sailors come to race with us on the sea? It is so much fun!
The UKWA camp at Abererch Sands Holiday Park
Moderate NW winds were forecast for Saturday, and we ended up with a rather gusty and shifty 11-18 knots all day (and sunshine, which makes all the difference!). This made for some really fun high speed planing races, with lots of tactical decision making as the shifty gusts came down the race course from the beach.

As usual, Mark Kay and Tom Naylor were flying upwind in the Raceboard fleet, but my upwind speed seemed to have improved since Weymouth, so I managed to hold them off most of the time. One person that nobody stood a chance of holding off upwind was Tom Dryden whose devastating speed, combined with solid tactics and good starts made him the one to beat upwind. However, we also have to race back downwind, and it was myself and Mark Kay who had the best overall speed around the course, taking 1st and 2nd in each race respecively, except for the first race, where Tom Naylor took 2nd (+ a 2 point penalty for forgetting his tally). Rob Kent was fast and consistent as always, but not quite fast enough to finish higher than 3rd in these planing conditions. Every time I saw Lewis Barnes on the first beat, he was flying, and his downwind sailing is improving all of the time, all he needs to do now is string some solid races together. It was difficult to get tactics right, sometimes a nice gust would come the course by the beach accompanied with wind shift that could be advantageous both upwind and downwind. I pulled tonnes of distance off Mark on one downwind by going there, yet on another upwind, Lewis almost overtook me with a broken harness line because I went that way! The shifts also made laylines difficult, in one race, me and Tom had to get the daggerboard up and reach to the windward mark!

Mark Kay, by Andy Watkinson
Sunday morning was rather relaxed, as we waited for the light easterly breeze to become race-able. After a load of rain, the wind swung to the south and quickly built to 11-14 knots: perfect, if choppy. It was still a bit shifty, and the start line turned very port bias during the last minute, allowing Tom Naylor to make a killer port flyer, with the rest of the fleet who started by the boat sat behind me on starboard. I won the first race, then Mark Kay then put his boom a bit higher and sailed a perfect race to win the next, before the wind dropped in the last race allowing me to win again. Rob was looking forward to a lightwind race, but didn't do enough to get ahead of Mark, crucially allowing Tom Naylor to take 3rd overall in the Raceboard fleet by just 1 point.

Pic by John Liddy
In the RSX fleet, Matthew Barton was the only 9.5 and won all the races, but not without a fight, as the 8.5's snapped at his heals, especially in the gusty shifty conditions that make upwind legs really tricky when trying to go off the fin formula style. Lewis May convincingly won 1st youth, only letting James Hatcher and Henry Bloodworth past him in a couple of races.

It was a close battle at the front of the Techno Fleet, and in the end, it was Andrew Brown who edged ahead of Josh Carey, who was racing on 7.8 for the first time. James and Ben Barnwell were racing in the new "Techno+" 8.5 open class, and took 3rd and 4th, whilst 5th placed Adam Phipps was 3rd 7.8. Isaac Lines was 1st 6.8. It was impressive to see such consistent results from the top techno sailors: not easy in such gusty shifty conditions.

Jason Clarke sailed an impressive series of races to win the formula fleet ahead of Jamie Ingram (former RSX and Raceboard star), who was impressively fast despite rarely racing at all these days. It looked like a fantastic weekend for formula racing, and Gustavo Takiguchi was 1st youth in this his second formula event.

This event also saw a masterblaster fleet enjoying 11 races off the beach, with Mike Blackgrove taking the win by just 1 point from Ted Kay.

Full results
UKWA National Championships, ranking so far...

Results summary:


1 Louis Morris (1st lightweight) Tushingham/Starboard
2 Mark Kay (1st heavyweight and 1st master) Demon/Starboard
3 Tom Naylor (1st veteran) Tushingham/Starboard
7 Harriet Ellis (1st lady) Demon/Starboard
8 John Pete (1st super veteran) Demon/Starboard


1 Jason Clarke Patrik/Severne
2 Jamie Ingram (1st National 11m) Gaastra/Starboard
3 Dave Coles (1st veteran) Starboard/Severne
4 Chris Bond (1st master) Point-7 sails/Gaastra board
7 Gustavo Takiguchi (1st Youth) North/Starboard


1 Andrew Brown (1st 7.8)
2 Josh Carey (2nd 7.8)
3 James Barnwell (1st 8.5)
8 Erin Watson (1st 7.8 girl)
16 Isaac Lines (1st 6.8)
18 Mollie Densley-Robins (1st 6.8 girl, 3rd 6.8 overall)


1 Matthew Barton
2 Lewis May (1st youth 8.5)
3 James Hatcher
8 Natalie McWilliams (1st lady)

Master Blaster

1 Mike Blackgrove
2 Ted Kay
3 Marcus Round

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