The UKWA National course racing championship is a series of 5 events, the final one was at Stokes Bay (Gosport, on the Solent) last weekend.
|Photo by John Liddy|
|Photo by Louise Mills|
The forecast looked pretty windy for Saturday, and sure enough, it was very windy whilst we were rigging, but after a lot of rain and a 90° wind shift, we had about 12-14 knots. To avoid the shipping channel, the course was set quite close into the beach, which was great for spectators, but also meant that the inner loop of the course had very fluky wind, with a big hole by the windward mark. Add some strong tide, and you have some interesting racing!
During the morning, the tide was going opposite directions (or at least, much stronger inshore), which meant that left paid best. The wind was strong enough to plane all the way round, and I had good speed and was tactically strong enough to win by a comfy margin whilst Mark Kay, Rob Kent, and Lewis Barnes were in close combat. One of the leeward gate marks drifted leading to some confusion and disqualification those who went through the gate the wrong way (including Lewis).
|Lewis Barnes by John Liddy|
The wind dropped a bit for the second race, demanding a bit more downwind pumping. And this time the racing was very close with a few lead changes as people got the right gusts and shifts and played the tide correctly or not. I was leading, but after the last upwind, Rob was hot on my tail, and had a better downwind to win the race (I had a stinking cold and just ran out of energy, that’s my excuse anyway!).
|Mark Kay, by Paul Wyeth|
Race 3 was no less exciting and very very gusty as the wind started to swing a little more offshore. The tide was very strong now, and even stronger on the left, so it was a case of trying to get the shifts right without heading out into the channel. Mark had a flying start and a perfect first beat, but then tacked on a header at the leeward mark, sending him out into the strongest tide and allowing 4 people to overtake! Myself and Rob got a good shift by the shore that allowed us to leebow the tide and get a crazy layline to the windward mark, so again I won with Rob 2nd and Lewis in 3rd.
The race officer tried to change the course to a windward/leeward further out in cleaner wind, but the wind dropped by the time we started and it had to be abandoned.
There was no wind until about 1pm on Sunday, and even then it was about 2 knots, some people just went home, and lots of people started packing up, but then at 3, we had a great finishing race in 8-10 knots. The tide wash pushing upwind very quickly, but miraculously nobody was OCS on the start. I had a good start but gave myself some work to do by heading too much up the middle of the course; luckily I got the craziest long distance with tide layline ever and won the race ahead of Rob and Lewis again.
|Photo by Louise Mills|
So I won the event, with Rob Kent 2nd, and Lewis Barnes finally converted his crazy speed into a super consistent set of 3rd places. Mark Kay was as fast as ever, but just didn’t manage to put together a good enough set of races to displace Lewis from the podium. Annette Kent had a really good event and finished 5th overall, first lady by a long way. Jenna Gibson was also very impressive, managing to finish ahead of Harriet Ellis, proving that a skilfully used old Mega cat is still as good as anything!
1st Louis Morris (Tushingham/Starboard 377)
2nd Robert Kent (Tushingham/Starboard 377)
3rd Mark Kay (Demon/Starboard 377)
1st Veteran (4th overall) Tom Naylor (Tushingham/Starboard 380)
1st Lady (6th overall) Annette Kent (Tushingham/Starboard 377)
1st Supervet (7th overall) John Pete (Demon/Starboard 377)
1st Youth (10th overall) Rebecca Kent (Bic OD/Mistral Equipe)