Monday, 4 May 2015

UKWA Christchurch - Raceboard report

The first event of the UKWA National Championship series kicked off on the waters of Christchurch bay last weekend. Here is a run-down of the happenings of the Raceboard fleet!

Saturday saw winds of about 11-20 knots, with plenty of bumpy swell and chop to go with it.

The first race was probably the lightest, with some of the fleet not planing all the way downwind. Mark Kay and Tom Naylor got off to a flying start, and overtook Louis, who timed his acceleration slightly wrong and didn’t have the speed to put it right. However, Louis tacked off and found some good breeze out to sea, pulling back and rounding the windward mark just a few board lengths behind Mark. Good downwind speed from Louis and a slightly ropey mark rounding from Mark saw Louis take the lead, but by the windward mark Mark had regained it, with the left of the course appearing to pay this time. Mark flew off down the reach, leaving Louis to settle for 2nd with Tom in 3rd and Rob Kent not far behind in 4th.
Louis Morris. Photo by John Liddy
The wind was similar in the second race, but the wind was a little less inconsistent. Louis got the best start and lead for much of the first beat, but once again, Mark and Tom showed some serious upwind pace to just edge in front at the windward mark. Louis’ excellent downwind speed and angle saw him pass Tom, and gain on Mark. Mark then pulled away upwind, although it turned out that he crossed the start line early, disqualifying him from the race. Tom was looking annoyingly comfortable on his old 9.4 Tushingham Lightning, and sailed past Louis upwind, but a poor layline let Louis back past and he lead Tom down the reach. A quick look over his shoulder almost cost Louis the race as his board slammed into a wave and stopped dead, sending Louis over the front. Luckily for him, the wind was rather light down the final reach, and he just managed to pump his way past Tom, winning by just a couple of board lengths.

The wind built considerably by the last race, which seemed to spread the fleet out a little more. The little extra wind worked in Marks favour, and he simply flew off the start and lead all the way to the finish of the extra-long 3 lap race. Whilst Louis usually pulled back a few meters downwind, Mark just kept extending his lead upwind. Similarly, Louis lead Tom the whole way round, with better downwind speed, and although Tom reeled him in a bit every upwind, Louis took 2nd place by sizeable margin.
Mark Kay. Photo by Matthew Burridge
It looked really windy on Sunday morning, but by the time we were racing, the wind dropped significantly. Conditions were less choppy, but very gusty with a sizable cross-swell. The tide wasn’t really running in the first race, and both sides of the course appeared to pay equally well. The race between Louis and Mark was very close, and there was than a board-length in it down the top reach. Louis was leading on the last downwind, but gybed a little too early and left the door open for Mark, handing him the victory. The wind picked up, and another race was started, but it was abandoned due to a threat of fog.

After a lunch break, visibility was good enough for another race, and this time it really was windy, with gusts over 20 knots sweeping down the course. Tom Naylor lead upwind, with Mark Kay and Andy Gibson not far behind. However, Tom dropped his tack, opening the door for Mark, Andy, and Louis. After an exciting downwind Louis had overtaken Andy, and was within striking distance of Mark. Mark opted to stay close to shore, but Louis tacked back out to sea and took advantage of the stronger tide to take the lead and win the final race.

Final results: Mark deservedly won the event, just one point ahead of Louis. Tom took 3rd place with an excellent and consistent performance, clearly ahead of the rest of the fleet. Rob Kent never seemed to put a foot wrong, but didn't quite have the speed to make it into the top three.
Rob Kent. Photo by Andy Watkinson
Annette Kent is pretty renowned for flying around when it’s windy and showing most of the 9.5’s the way round, but she didn't have it all her way, and an on form Harriet Ellis was the first lady, in 6th overall.


This event also saw newcomers Alice Butts and Thomas Cave enter the youth division along with Emily Kent. They gave an impressive performance on their 6.8 and 7.8 sails in conditions that were certainly not an easy introduction to the class, and in the end, it was Thomas who won the youth prize, in 9th overall.

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