Thursday, 8 October 2015

Stokes Bay: the final round

I have to admit, at one point, the forecast didn’t exactly fill me with excitement for the last event of the UKWA National Championship Series at Stokes Bay, Gosport. However, after about 1.5 hours of postponement, racing got underway in about 6 knots of wind.

Tom Naylor
Due to the constrictions of the shipping channel, racing took place on a windward/leeward course set close to the shore, with wind shifts and tide playing a very important part in tactical decisions. By the time we started racing, the tide was fairly slack, but probably still running in the deep water, so the winning tactic was to head right and make use of less tide, and possibly some kind of wind bend by the shore. Tom Naylor had really impressive light wind speed, and arrived first to the windward mark. I managed to pass him, but had to really work to keep him behind me in the first race. In race two, it was a similar story, but this time it was Rob Kent who had a good race, finishing just behind myself. Mark Kay was particularly impressive upwind all weekend, and beat Tom to take 3rd. With a late start to the racing, we were treated to a third exhausting light wind race. Again, I won, with Rob in second, but this time Tom just managed to keep Mark from the top three.

Annette Kent (photo by Paul Wyeth)
After a well-earned break, we headed out for the final race of the day. The wind was now just strong enough to plane downwind, and with a bit of extra power in his sail, Mark Kay found his familiar superspeed self. It was a very close race between us on the first lap, but a good second beat gave me a large enough lead to pump a little less on the last downwind. Tom sailed a solid race, but was unfortunately one of four competitors to be pushed over the line early by the strengthening tide.
Annette Kent had a solid performance, finishing ahead of Harriet Ellis in every race, which put her in a good position going into the final day to take the national title.

In the youths, it was Alice Butts who sailed the best in the light, tidal conditions. However it was very close, with only a couple of points separating the 4 youths at the end of the day.

Rob Kent (photo by Andy Stallman)
On Sunday, the SE’ly wind was there early on, but took it’s time to build, and the two morning races took place in similarly light wind to Saturday, with a fast tide pushing against it. The best tactic upwind was to head out to deep water and catch the tide and stronger wind. I managed to get away to a strong lead and win both races, although eventually retired from the first race following an incident on the start line, and a lack of enthusiasm for protest hearings. Behind me, it was very close racing between Tom, Mark, and Rob. Mark and Tom managed to get great upwind board-speed in the short chop, whilst Rob’s strength was downwind.

The wind built to a nice 12-14 knots in the afternoon, and the tide started to switch direction. Myself, Tom, and Mark started to have a little bit of a speed advantage over Rob in the stronger conditions. I didn’t have an amazing start in the first race, but a strong downwind saw me take the lead, only to run out of outhaul rope at the leeward mark, forcing me to tack to pull on outhaul on the other side of the boom. This sent me into slack/wind with tide water, whilst Mark and Tom headed into the channel and established an insurmountable lead on me, with Mark winning the race. In the final race, I took the start a little too relaxed and was called over within the final minute. I had to go around the end, but couldn’t find a gap, and in trying to manoeuvre myself into a position to start on time, fell in and gave everyone a 1 minute head start as I had some fun uphauling my sail! Mark and Tom sailed off to take first and second, whilst I played catch up. I managed to pull back to about 5th or 6th at the windward mark, then pumped like crazy to arrive at the leeward mark in 3rd, a position I managed to keep to the finish.
Louis Morris (photo by Robert Hajduk)
Pretty frustrated with my silly mistakes, as my speed was certainly good enough to win both races. In the end, I could still win the event, and unfortunately my mistakes impacted Rob more than me: with two 2nd places, Tom was able to displace Rob from the event podium, and take 3rd behind Mark in 2nd.

Lewis Barnes was going quicker in the slightly stronger breeze, and took a 4th and 5th. Similarly, Jenna Gibson started chipping away at the points; with 3 top ten finishes on Sunday, she managed to snatch the youth prize from Alice Butts, who did just enough to keep Thomas Cave, who prefers stronger winds, behind her in the final result. However, with the most consistent performance throughout the year, it was Thomas who was first youth in the overall series, congratulations to him in his first year on raceboard.
Alice Butts
Sunday was the day for Harriet to get some points back from Annette, but unfortunately  for her, it wasn’t quite enough, handing Annette both the event, and overall series win for the womens prize.
In two weeks, the final inland event takes place at Pitsford Reservoir near Northampton. After that, we look forward to more great racing next year. However, there are still the LWA icebreaker events to go to if anyone wants some more racing between now and next spring.

Event results summary:
1st, Louis Morris
2nd, 1st master, 1st heavyweight, Mark Kay
3rd, 1st veteran, Tom Naylor
1st supervet, John Pete (6th overall)
1st lady, Annette Kent (7th overall)
1st youth, Jenna Gibson (10th overall)

Complete results:

Series results summary:
1st, Louis Morris
2nd, 1st master, 1st heavyweight, Mark Kay
3rd, Robert Kent
1st Veteran, Tom Naylor (4th overall)
1st supervet, John Pete (6th overall)
1st Lady, Annette Kent (7th overall)
1st Youth, Thomas Cave (9th overall)

Complete results:

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