Saturday, 5 September 2015

National Championships Round 5 - Pwllheli

It would be hard to beat the fantastic conditions we had at Weymouth, but if anywhere can than Pwllheli can. It is possibly my favourite place to race, with great open sea racing conditions, or tactical shifty flat conditions depending on wind direction, with camping virtually on the beach and Snowdonia as a backdrop to the race course.

Mark Kay and Lewis Barnes had been training for several days prior to the event, although by the sound of it more short boarding got done than race training, and those that arrived early on Friday were treated to some great windy conditions. As I found, pitching my tent at 11:30pm.
Mark Kay (photo by Andy Stallman)

The wind and waves had moderated a bit in time for racing on saturday morning, but it was still a bit on the breezy side, with 16-18 knots cross-onshore from the SW.

The raceboard fleet pushed the start a tad (apparently it was my fault), and we started the weekend with a general recall. A collision with a lobster pot buoy soon after the re-start let half the fleet past me, so it was Mark Kay, Tom Naylor, and Tom Dryden who arrived first to the windward mark. All four of them had really good speed upwind on saturday. I tacked off after my collision and found that either I was very very fast, or that the right side of the course paid a lot, because I was 4th to the windward mark. Mast track issues put Tom Dryden out of the race downwind, I managed to pass Tom Naylor with superior angle, and closed the gap on Mark. On the second beat Mark and I headed to opposite sides of the course, and I had taken the lead by the final mark, and won the race.
Louis Morris (photo by Karen Battye)

In the second race, it was Mark and Tom who battled it out at the front the whole way round. I couldn't overtake with speed alone, and tacked too early upwind several times due to a strengthening tide. Mark won, Tom 2nd, myself 3rd. Lewis Barnes had a better race, but opened the door on the last reach for Rob Kent to take 4th place.
Rob Kent (photo by Andy Stallman)

The wind dropped to about 14-16 knots in the afternoon, with a slightly flatter sea-state. The speed difference between myself and Mark was virtually nothing, and I had him right on my tail the whole way round. Lewis and Rob didn't have their best race, but that should take nothing away from Andy Gibson, who was flying all day and took 4th, ahead of Tom Dryden who didn't break anything and took a well deserved 5th.

Rob bounced back in the final race of the day, but still couldn't displace Tom N from his now customary 3rd place. Meanwhile, it was closer than ever, too close in fact, between myself and Mark. Mark arrived first to the windward mark, but I had a great downwind leg and arrived at the leeward gate first. We both opted to gybe and head left, and Mark took the inside and hit my mast with the end of his boom as I came out tighter than he expected. All good, we were both still upright, and I now had him behind me. I tacked on what I thought was the layline whilst he carried on for a little longer. In clean air, Mark is very fast upwind, and I could hear him getting closer, I tried to point as high as possible to squeeze into his lee-bow and control him again. I thought he'd got me, but as he overtook, his boom clipped my shoulder and sent him over the front. Luckily out of the way of me so no further collision took place. Mark recovered quickly enough to keep Tom at bay and take an unfortunate 2nd.
Annette Kent (photo by Karen Battye)

Thomas Cave was the fastest youth in the breezy conditions, and had some close racing with experienced racers Annette Kent and Harriet Ellis. Harriet was unlucky, missing two races after breaking her mast, battens, and sail in the waves.

Most of sunday was spent waiting for wind. We were teased with 4 knots SW, but the race committee decided to continue waiting, and eventually it swung NW (offshore) and reached 6-8 knots. By the time we started, we had a slightly gusty and shifty 8-10 knots. The fleet was quite split after the start, with neither side looking  better than the other. I opted for the middle, with two tacks timed with shifts. I had really good speed and angle, a great start, and good laylines, so arrived upwind first. Rob and Mark weren't far behind, but I planed almost all the way downwind on both laps, so pulled away quite a lot and won by a comfortable margin. The next race was a similar story, although the wind was a little lighter so it was entirely non-planing. In this wind, Mark and Rob were very well matched upwind, but Rob had the slight edge downwind, and managed to take 2nd in both races, with Mark 3rd and Tom Naylor 4th. These conditions often suit Lewis, and he was very quick upwind, but didn't managed to piece together the tactics, and settled for 5th and 9th.
Lewis Barnes (photo by Karen Battye)

Thomas Cave likes it windy, couldn't keep up with fellow youths Alice Butts and Emily Kent. Alice sailed excellently, and even finished ahead of Annette in the final race. However, with only two light wind races, Thomas had done enough to take the youth prize by just two points. Annette Kent was first lady, with good light wind races, Harriet also sailed well, but with only one discard, couldn't recover from her kit-breaking wave.

Full results

Results summary:
1st Louis Morris
2nd Mark Kay, 1st heavy, 1st master
3rd Tom Naylor, 1st veteran
1st Lady Annette Kent 8th overall
1st supervet John Pete 9th overall
1st youth Thomas Cave 11th overall

With only one event remaining to decided the UKWA national champion, things are really close. With two discards now available, Louis Morris and Mark Kay both hold 4 points each, and whoever beats the other at the last event will win the series, providing they finish within one place of Rob Kent who can still win in theory. Annette Kent and Harriet Ellis are also on tied points, so it will go right down the the last event.

Series results

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