Six B14s from the B14 Flying Circus made the trip to Datchet Water for the GJW Direct Sailjuice Datchet Flyer.

The forecast was for a building breeze on the first day and rain on the second. Day 1 had 3 races scheduled back to back with a 100 minute pursuit race on Sunday. Pursuit would be non-discardable with 1 discard from the other 3.

The fleet hit the water to be greeted by a force 4. However, the wind soon started to build, with 102 dinghies of varying speed, it was going to be an interesting day on the water sailing the P course. With the breeze up to 20 knots at the start, the first attempt ended in a recall. On the restart under black flag in 25 plus knots, the fast handicap launched at speed up the course...


However, Ullman Sails (Kathy Sherratt/Alan Stuart) were hit by a big gust as the gun went and capsized at the pin and turtled. Team Ullman were not to seen again on the day due an injury. Team GUL/North (Mark Barnes/Charlotte Jones) ripped off the pin and led the charge to the left with Harken/Whitstable Marine (Nick Craig/Tom Pygall) taking the middle with Seavolution (Josh Wilce/Will Hall) and P&B (Mark Watts/Chris Bishop) hitting the right with Florescent Adolescent (Tom Gatehouse/Kate Wardle).

With the front 4 having little to chose between them closing on the top mark. Team GUL/North suffering a strop failure in a big gust, faded away from the race. The other leading 3 led by Harken/Whitstable Marine, Seavolution and P&B rounded the mark together and set kites bar Harken/Whitstable Marine to show how fast the B14 can really go. Florescent Adolescent chasing, had a big wipeout on the bottom gybe and called it a day. Seavolution and P&B with little to chose between them, led the charge of the next 2 laps, but P&B piled in on one gybe, so releasing Seavolution to take the lead to the finish, followed by P&B.

With the wind up to well over 25 knots in the gusts, Harken/Whitstable Marine and Team GUL/North re-joined the fray, but alas, once the massively depleted handicap fleet had been sorted (many capsizes and exhausted crews etc), the race team took the decision to call it a day. So the remaining combatants headed for shore and warm food. Harken/Whitstable Marine having missed some of the race stayed out and gave a demonstration ripping up and down the reservoir several times, only to give us a nice close up capsize near the club. No damage and a quick recovery saw hem head home as the wind started to really build topping out 2 hours later at over 45 knots

Seavolution B14 Winter Pursuit Series at Datchet Water - photo © Tim Olin

Day 2 force 1 – 2, and minus Florescent Adolescent the fleet raced one P course handicap race prior to the 100 minute pursuit. Off the start Team GUL/North took the charge chased by 2 MPSs and the B14s mixing with the remainder MPSs. Over the next 45 minutes, the leaders were these three with a recovering RS800 with close racing between the MPSs and B14s taking place with little to choose between them. At the finish it was Team GUL/North from Harken/Whitstable Marine, Seavolution, P&B and Ullman Sails.

Going into the 100 minute pursuit, minute 14 had a very crowded start with B14s, MPSs, RS200s and a few other on a 75 m. line. Team GUL/North bailed from mid line as a couple of RS200s started to nibble and crossed the sterns of all to take the right end on port. Harken/Whitstable Marine led the charge with Seavolution shadowing them followed by P&B and Ullman Sails. Team GUL/North re-joined them having ripped through the bulk of the MPSs and rounded behind.

Over the race, Harken/Whitstable Marine held the B14 lead for most of the race with the other 4 yo-yoing with the leading 2 MPSs. All 5 B14s had glory in their sites at some point, but Harken/Whitstable Marine prevailed followed home by Team GUL/North, P&B, Seavolution and Ullman Sails. The fleet had sailed through the classes in formation providing loose cover, but alas the ground to be made up on the earlier starting boats favoured those that started in clear and stronger breeze. A most enjoyable weekend was had in testing conditions, with well run racing and shore management with hot food etc.

Leg 2 will be the Grafham Grand Prix on the 28th December. A good event to burn off the excesses of Christmas. We'll see you there.

Overall B14 Results:

PosSail NoBoat nameHelmCrewClubR1R2PursuitPts
1 GBR 761 Harken/Whistable Marine Nick Craig Tom Pygall Frensham/Burghfield SC DNF 2 1 3
2 GBR 795 Team GUL/North Mark Barnes Charlotte Jones Whitstable YC/Exmouth SC DNF 1 2 3
3 GBR 788 Seavolution Josh Wilce Will Hall Rutland SC 1 4 4 5
4 GBR 791 P&B Mark Watts Chris Bishop Weston SC 2 3 3 5
5 GBR 772 Ulman Sails Kathy Sherratt Allan Stuart Weston SC DNF 5 5 10
6 GBR 735 Florescent Adolescent Tom Gatehouse Kate Wardle Weston SC DNF DNS DNS 14


Photos © Tim Olin