Thursday, 25 June 2015

Datchet: UKWA Regional Inland Series

The UKWA Regional Inland Series is a great series of events, serving as both: high quality, high level racing for experienced competitors, often offering a different challenge to the sea events (flat water, fluky winds), and also the perfect introduction to national level course racing.

Datchet was an excellent example of this, and saw a sizable junior fleet, making the step up from  Team 15 with some close racing and great coaching from Chloe Bennett. There was also a decent techno fleet, and it was a great opportunity for a couple of the older techno sailors to get some experience on the RSX.

The Raceboard fleet had a good entry of 22 competitors, including some local LWA windsurfers, and 4 youths, including Thomas Cave and Alice Butts, both of whom are new to Raceboard this year.

Saturday good as the terrible forecast! Grey, a bit drizzly, and very light wind. It did pick up to up to 10 knots in the late afternoon, but died away to nothing once everyone was on the start line! Eventually, once race was completed in 5-8 knots in the afternoon. With the rather low water level, the wind was very gusty and shifty, and it was hard to not get stuck in a patch of no wind, or get on the wrong side of the shift. I had a good start, but didn't get the beat spot on. I got it good enough though, and with a bit of pumping, rounded first, just ahead of Andy Gibson, who was absolutely flying upwind at an outrageous angle. Mark Kay fought back downwind, and was in a great position for the second beat. Rob Kent can never be discounted, especially in these winds, and took second place behind myself, with Mark working hard for a well earnt 3rd.
Breezy Sunday
After an evening of musical entertainment and food in the clubhouse, Sunday's forecast was eagerly anticipated. We woke to a building westerly breeze, and by the time we launched, it was a pretty solid 15-20 knots. However, the wind shifted a little to the right, and having to share the lake with the club racers, the course ended up being set in an incredibly gusty shifty corner, which made the days 5 short races pretty hard work.
I like blasting between the races!
There was an interesting mix of tactics on the short upwind leg, with some opting to go right and get the shift off the shore, and others heading left into the (possibly) more consistent breeze in the middle of the lake. I tended to head left off the port biased line, and it worked, combined with hunting the gusts downwind, I won the first two races by a big margin. Tim Colles had an awesome one in race 3, but consistency was what mattered, and it was Mark Kay and Lewis Barnes who managed to make their awesome speed work in the tricky conditions best. In race 4, Mark went the same way as me upwind and it was a pretty close battle most of the way round, I just managed to overtake him downwind, then followed a gust round the last downwind leg to just take the win. With two races scheduled for the afternoon, Mark was in 2nd behind myself, but with Rob Kent and Lewis Barnes not far behind. Race 5 didn't go so well for Mark, finishing 4th, but Lewis Barnes sailed brilliantly to close the gap on Rob. The battle for the podium went down to the last race, where the wind swung round so much, that almost the whole fleet started on port. I went quite early but remarkably wasn't over, but hesitated a little, then felt totally out of control as a gust came from nowhere. By the time I'd adjusted my sail, Mark, Lewis, and Andy sailed right over the top of the rest of the fleet and stayed way out in front for the rest of the race, allowing Lewis to snatch 3rd place away from Rob. I pulled myself back into fourth downwind, but there was no way I'd catch the top 3!
Mark Kay chasing Paul Leone to the finish
Annette Kent got a series of good top 10 results to finish first lady and 9th overall, quite a few points ahead of Jenna Gibson in 10th. Jenna took the first youth prize convincingly, but it was a pretty close match between Thomas, Alice, and Emily Kent. They were trading places the whole weekend, but in the end Thomas took 2nd, with Alice just edging into 3rd ahead of Emily.

The next inland event isn't until September for the RYA/UKWA Inland Nationals and Youth and Masters Championship, but in the meantime, there is plenty of coastal action lined up at Herne Bay, Weymouth, and Pwllheli.

1st Louis Morris
2nd Mark Kay, 1st Master, 1st Heavyweight
3rd Lewis Barnes

1st Veteran, Bob Ingram, 7th overall
1st Super Veteran, John Pete, 8th overall
1st Lady, Annette Kent, 9th overall
1st Youth Jenna Gibson, 10th overall
Raceboard winners!
Top 3 youths

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