Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Raceboard fleet at Weymouth

Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy is definitely one of the best venues for course racing in the country, despite extortionate harbour fees. Whilst the RSX and Techno fleets were a little depleted due to clashing or upcoming international championships, the raceboard fleet was very strong. 16 Raceboards may not sound that impressive, but this is pretty good going for a coastal event, which normally put off many of the inland sailors who don't like bumpy water. The best news was that half the fleet were "young" i.e. 25 or less, which is extremely promising for the future of the british raceboard fleet. Lets hope that the fleet continues to grow in this way.
Look! Some young, fresh faced raceboarders! Photo by Rod Davis
The wind looked pretty light on Saturday morning, and racing got underway in about 8 knots. However, it was still pretty patchy, and trying to stay in the gusts was really important. The first race was completely non-planing, and it was pretty hard work! I just managed to stay ahead of Mark Kay, with Rob Kent in 3rd. Robin McAllister, now in his second year on Raceboard, sailed excellently to take 5th. 20 year-old Andrew Robinson was really fast upwind, but suffered downwind (pumping really is hard work if you've not windsurfed for a year!), although he still managed to take 7th. Thankfully, the wind picked up a bit for the next race, and I could stay planing around the whole course and win by a comfortable margin. This time, it was really close between Mark and Rob, but Mark just stayed ahead to take 2nd place.
Close racing between Mark Kay and Louis Morris. Photo by Andy Stallman.
The wind didn't really build any further, but it did stabilise in the afternoon, and staying in the gusts and on the right side of the shifts was less challenging than previously. Once again, I had a really good speed and angle upwind, and could plane all the way downwind to win by a long way. This time, Rob flew down the last run to snatch 2nd place from Mark just meters from the finish line. Annette Kent and Harriet Ellis both sailed an impressive race, women are limited to an 8.5 sail, yet they finished 4th and 5th respectively, leaving no less than ten 9.5's in their wake. The final race of the day saw a very close first beat, with Mark, Rob, and Lewis Barnes leading the way downwind. I worked hard downwind to get back to the front, but had the worst mark rounding of my life (I missed it all together and had to go back round,oops!), and trailed Rob and Mark  for the rest of the race.
Annette Kent. Photo by Karen Battye
Only two points separated Alice Butts, Thomas Cave, and Emily Kent in the youth division after 4 races, but it was Emily who clung on to the lead overnight.
Alice Butts flying to the finish. Photo by Karen Battye
Sunday also looked light initially, but the wind quickly built to a steady 12 knot SW'ly. Looking back at the results it looks pretty boring! I won, Mark got 2nd, Lewis 3rd, Rob 4th in all 3 races on Sunday morning! Actually, it was really close. Mark was actually over the line in the first race and had to re-start, but incredibly managed to sail so fast that he was soon right on my tail. My starts were good in both races, and I was able to point a couple of degrees higher than Mark  to put him into my dirty air and control him behind me. Even so, just a few board lengths separated us from start to finish.We were a long way ahead of the rest of the fleet, but a similar battle was going on between Rob Kent and Lewis Barnes for 3rd and 4th. Rob was better downwind, whilst Lewis's strength is upwind.
Lewis in fine form, especially upwind. Photo by Karen Battye
In the afternoon, the wind picked up a notch, with gusts of up to 20 knots.I think we were all a little relieved that Tom Naylor wasn't in attendance, as these really were his conditions! The top 4 was occupied by the same people as before, but with that extra breeze, Mark was unstoppable upwind. I didn't let him disappear off too far, once he was ahead, I simply couldn't catch him. However, with 6 race wins, I had done enough to win the event.
Mark takes a bullet! Photo by Karen Battye
 Rob was glad of his 1st and 2nd places on Saturday afternoon, and finishing 4th behind Lewis in every race in Sunday was enough to give him 3rd overall in the final results.
Lewis and Louis head upwind in perfect conditions. Photo by Karen Battye
 John Pete must have had some kind of turbo on the back of his board, because he was on fire this weekend finishing 5th overall. Robin McAllister was very impressive in the stronger wind and took 5th place in three of the races, and 6th overall in the event.
Robin McAllister. Photo by Karen Battye
It is almost always a very close race between Harriet Ellis and Annette Kent, and this time it was Harriet who was first lady, finishing one or two places ahead in most of the races.
Harriet Ellis wins the ladies. Photo by Karen Battye
Alice Butts looked comfortable in the stronger wind, but it was Thomas Cave who really excelled and finished first youth by an impressive 10 point margin.
First youth: Thomas Cave. Photo by Karen Battye
Full results: http://www.windsurfingresults.co.uk/Weymouth2015.html

Results summary:
1st Louis Morris, 1st Lightweight
2nd Mark Kay, 1st Master, 1st Heavyweight
3rd Robert Kent
1st Super Veteran, John Pete (5th overall)
1st Lady, Harriet Ellis (7th overall)
1st Veteran, Chris Gibson (9th overall)
1st Youth, Thomas Cave (11th overall)

See you all at the next event in Pwllheli!
Photo by Andy Stallman

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