Snakes & Ladders!
The second round of the B14 Circuit headed to King George for an excellent days training & very tricky day's Circuit event.
Class gurus Mark Watts & Mark Barnes led a very informative day’s training showing the B14 class commitment to newcomers and youth. Conditions were ideal with a force 2 - 3 and brilliant sunshine seeing Alex Willard launch his B14 for the first time and love planing both upwind & downwind for the first time in a force 3!
After a couple of hours of filmed boat handling, the fleet had four 15 minute races on a short course to test their new found boat handling skills to the full. Four races and no discard, it was to be a closely contested series. Twin windward marks enabled newcomers to do the "short" beat and show the old hands the way. Mean Machine 00 (Barry Price/Al Storer) won 3 of the races and one poor result but held on to take the champagne. Dry Shirt (Phil Murray/Kevin Rutherford) made a long trip from Newcastle and were also rewarded with wine for putting in a consistent series being the first non TT winner on the bigger course with Chattanooga Cho Cho (Dan Cowin/Chris Fermor) second, (Lucy Walter/Andrew Thompson) second short course and Team Allen (Alex Willard/Dan Hollands) all receiving wine prizes.
As ever, the B14 social on Saturday night was good fun with the cheapest ever pub food being found - dinner for a recession busting £6 including a pint!
Sunday emerged windless but the breeze filled in to a shifty easterly force 2 for the opening race. After that the wind dropped and at times cam from SE to N, finally settling in the ENE. The race officer, Keith Humphreys assisted by Mike Keats, did a great job of keeping the course true meaning all 4 races were completed albeit in highly frustrating conditions for the sailors at times though everyone led a race at some point! All races were to count without discard.
Seavolution (Mark Barnes/Pete Nicholson) and Team Gill (Nick Craig/Toby Lewis) made the best of the conditions and a man overboard from Seavolution and missing the mid gate by Team Gill led to spicing up the event. Team Gill had 1, 2, 2 and Seavolution 2, 1, 1, setting up for a final thriller. assuming the wind would play! Light wind specialists the Anthill Mob (Tim Harrison/Jonny Ratcliff) showed great speed but got unlucky on a few huge shifts to score 3, 3, 4 so out the running if the first two ran true, but close for 3rd overall with Acxiom (Mark Emmett/Gerry Brown) with 7,4,3. Tim Fells didn’t pick the most exciting day a return to his favourite class but showed flashes of the magic that won him three B14 Worlds to score 4, 5, 5 with Phil Eltringham in Dynamic Sails.
After the wind shutting down and then coming back from a new direction the last race got underway. Team Gill and Seavolution were to windward of the committee boat with 30 seconds to go but as the outer boat Team Gill pealed first and found a slot and popped out to take the lead a third of the way up the beat with Seavolution at the back. Round the windward mark the Anthill Mob led from Team Gill with Seavolution in 7th. With Team Gill needing the win, the front two had a cat and mouse race on their hands in fickle conditions. Seavolution gradually picked their way through to 3rd. With a shortened course, the Anthill Mob looked to be on for the win but Team Gill found that little extra in a gust of wind to rob the Anthill Mob and take the win, with Seavolution unable to fully bridge the gap so losing out to the leading two.
Team Gill won, showing consistency throughout, with Seavolution in 2nd, Anthill Mob 3rd, Dynamic Sails 4th and Acxiom 5th.
A well run event with patience from the race management team paying off. Next round of the B14 Circuit is at Stokes Bay in 2 weeks time which will hopefully bring more wind & waves!