Monday, 6 May 2013

UKWA Cup 1

Well here we are, the third event of 3 consecutive weekends! This time, it was the first event of the UKWA Cup Championship series, and I won it! This makes me unbeaten on Raceboard in the 5 events I've done since June last year, crazy days!

The Raceboard fleet was a little smaller than at Pitsford, with notable absences from top racers Tom Naylor and Chris Gibson giving a fleet of 15. However there is a slowly growing youth presence, with four under 20's competing this weekend.

Day 1 was windy! With 18 gusting 25 knots forecast it was tough deciding whether to sail on 9.5 or 8.5. The final wind reading from the boat before I left the beach was 15-16 knots, so I decided to go for 9.5 with my small (46cm) fin. Once I arrived at the start line, I found that even with full downhaul and outhaul I was pretty overpowered, but most of the fleet were also on their big sails so I wasn't alone. I think the wind was around 17-20 gusting up to 25 perhaps? Anyway, it gave some exciting races!

From go, Mark Kay found his usual impressive high wind speed, leading around the course with me, Rob Kent, and Chris Guest in pursuit. Upwind was hard work overpowered in the steep chop, but I was fast downwind, making a good angle. Unfortunately it turned out that I'd forgotten how to gybe, and dropped two downwind which allowed Rob and Chris to get past. Mark was miles ahead by the second windward mark but erroneously decided to put in an extra lap, taking him out of the race. I followed Rob and Chris down the last downwind and reaches, but Chris dropped a gybe allowing Rob to take the win with myself in second.

The next three races on Saturday began to take a familiar format: Mark Kay won them all, myself in second, Chris Guest in 3rd, and Rob Kent (looking far too comfortable on his trusty Lighting 9.4) in 4th. (Eventually Chris's board had had enough of going fast, and his slot flusher decided to break, he still managed 4th behind Rob though!)*. I didn't drop any more gybes fortunately, and I got more comfortable and confident with the conditions as the day progressed. There were a couple of races where after the first beat, I kept close behind Mark for the rest of the race, the question is how did he get in front in the first place? It looked like the wind had dropped at lunch time so I stayed on my 9.5 XR Race all day. In fact, it was still just as windy! Luckily, the XR Race has a huge wind range so I was able to de-power it a lot, although I think I would have been a bit faster on my 8.5. Harriet Ellis found some good strong wind performance to end the day ahead of Annette Kent.

Sunday was a completely different story, I opened my tent to a cold, grey sky and barely any wind. We were postponed for a few minutes, but soon launched... the wind promptly disappeared and the sun came out, leaving me to cook in the wrong wetsuit as we drifted to the start line. The wind arrived on the race course by the time we reached the start, and filled in to a good 10 knots or so. My favourite conditions. I managed to plane for all of the downwind legs that morning, it was worth the hard work to keep it up, and I won both races.

The wind dropped after lunch so it was non planing all the way round the course for everyone now. I wasn't quite as fast upwind as I was in the morning, so I had to work extra hard downwind to extend my slender lead. I was pretty fast downwind again, so won both afternoon races by a good margin: happy days! Mark Kay struggled downwind in the lighter conditions despite showing some good speed upwind, allowing me to take the event lead, with consistent Rob Kent in second. Annette Kent got some great results to overtake Harriet Ellis in the results table, whilst Chris Guest held onto his 4th place.

Monday. Foggy and no wind, great!
The wind started to arrive, and the fog retreated by midday. Unfortunately the wind wasn't quite strong enough for racing so we waited... and waited... and revised, ate, played football, nursed sunburn, dried wetsuits etc... (during this time, the fog came and went and the wind picked up to a blistering 5-6 knots). Suddenly, the call was made for us to race, just as the wind had reached 8 knots and was building further. As we left the beach, the fog bank (which had been politely watching from Weymouth Bay) decided to visit us again, and put an end the weekends racing.

Thanks to all the UKWA team (race officers, safety crew, admin, Bob Ingram etc.) and everyone who turned up to race, it was a great event! Time to get some work done for my exams now I think.

Raceboard results summary:
1. Louis Morris. (Tushingham XR Race 9.5, Starboard Phantom 377)
2. Rob Kent, first master. (Tushingham XR Race 9.5/Lightning 9.4, Phantom 377)
3. Mark Kay, first heavyweight. (Demon, Phantom 377)

1st Lady: Annette Kent, 5th overall (XR Race 8.5, Phantom 377)
1st Youth: Andrew Robinson, 8th overall (Demon, F2)

Full results at

*for those of you who don't know, the slot flushers are rubber lips that stop a fountain of water from spurting through the daggerboard slot in the board. If they aren't working properly, you go slow!

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