Thirteen travelling boats arrived by road at Stokes Bay, being joined on the water by a fourteenth launched on the other side of the Solent, to be greeted by light cold northerly winds. Sharing the event with the Musto Skiffs, it was looking to be a good weekend. With the windward mark tucked up under the lee shore and big shifts and pressure lines over the course, place changes were to occur throughout the day. Real snakes and ladders stuff. A case of holding one's nerve and taking the knocks to get to the pressure.
With many turning up in good time, the opportunity was taken to look over new aquistions and winter refurbishments, with Marck Cockrill and Ros Farr's lime green "WAFI" (GBR 646) catching the eye especially.
Race 1 was to show that it was going to be a battle royal all day. North Sails (Dave Hayes/Tom Pygall) led off the line chased by the pack. At the top mark they led by a couple of boat lengths from Anthill Mob (Tim Harrison/Johnny Radcliffe), Seavolution 1 (Mark Barnes/Pete (Pistol) Nicholson) and Seavolution 2 (Steve Hollingworth/Chris Murphy). Over the next 2 laps the top 3 swapped places with all 3 leading at some point. Going into the finish, North Sails snatched it from a closing Anthill Mob and Seavolution 1 with all 3 overlapped at the finish, followed by Ullman Sails (Mark Watts/Charlotte Jones).
Race 2, more of the same with Seavolution 1 leading out the charge to the middle right followed Anthill Mob, Seavolution 2 and Harken (Simon Hadley/Nikki Hadley). Over the race the front two played cat and mouse with North Sails recovering from a poor first beat. On the last part of the last beat the Anthill Mob snatched the lead from Seavolution 1 followed by a recovering North Sails. At the finish these 3 had little between them, finishing in that order followed by Seavolution 2.
Race 3, Harken led up the beat, chased by the marauding pack. At the windward mark the fleet rounded in close formation chasing the pressure downwind. At the leeward mark the fleet split left and right with the left paying. Seavolution 1 slipped a place with North Sails hitting the front at the top mark. Over the next lap the fleet settled down into formation covering the boat behind. North Sails to took the win from Harken, Neil Pryde Sailing (Mark Emmett/Allan Stuart) and Seavolution 1.
Race 4 and a number of boats where over early. North Sails headed for Hayes Corner with Blue Badge (Mike Bees/Ferret), current National Champions, finally making an appearance near the front playing the middle of the course. Blue Badge lead round the mark followed closely by Marlow (Dan Cowin/Al Storer) and then Neil Pryde Sailing. Whilst Blue Badge stretched out to as near a comfortable lead as it’s possible to get in such conditions, North Sails ground through to 2nd and pressured Blue Badge on the final run. The finishing order was Blue Badge, North Sails, Neil Pryde Sailing and Harken.
Overnight North Sails led from Seavolution 1 and Blue Badge. Anthill Mob were out of the running having missed races 3 & 4 due to a wedding commitment, and with only 1 discard this was to ultimately cost them the event. With other commitments on Sunday, Seavolution 1 withdrew from what was looking likely to be a big day.
Saturday night entertainment was organised by Dan Vincent and the Stokes Bay team, with a Bucking Bronco competition followed by a quiz (thankfully with no towel sniffing this year). The eagle-eyed B14s spotted very early on the "2 for 1" offer on Mount Gay Rum and took up the offer to enjoy the product responsibly. Some of the fleet took this responsibility very seriously indeed, whilst others left to wander the streets of Alverstoke, enjoying the crisp night air.
Sunday morning dawned colder, with the members of the impromptu Occupy Stokes Bay Sailing Club Dinghy Park Camp somewhat pale and blue-faced. With a cloudless sky it looked like chilled champagne conditions with a fair amount more breeze now from a slightly more northerly direction. A rapid sleigh-ride to the start brought heads and bodies to life and provided a taste of what was to follow.
Race 5 and some of the fleet were too keen, with an individual recall. North Sails again followed the groove out to Hayes Corner but on the approach to the windward mark were upended by a real swirler, leaving Neil Pryde Sailing to lead narrowly from Blue Badge, Anthill Mob and Ullman Sails. On the 2nd beat Ullman Sails forged ahead and took control, with Blue Badge moving up to 2nd. At the top of the final beat Blue Badge had drawn level when Ullman Sails unfortunately were caught in the blind spot of a Musto Skiff travelling downhill at high speed - luckily there were no injuries or damage but the tangle relegated Ullman Sails from the lead battle. At the finish Blue Badge were in front from Anthill Mob who spectacularly capsized onto the committee boat 0.002s after crossing the line. Ullman Sails regained their composure to take 3rd with Neil Pryde Sailing just behind in 4th, North Sails in 5th and Harken in 6th.
Race 6 started with the fleet getting away cleanly. Again teams split up the beat with the Anthill Mob and Neil Pryde Sailing going left and North Sails heading off right as usual - unfortunately this time they never returned as they suffered terminal gear failure forcing them out of the event. At the top it was Anthill Mob followed by Neil Pryde Sailing, Blue Badge and Ullman Sails. On the second lap a big gust and shift at the top enabled Neil Pryde Sailing to sail all the way to the gate without gybing but they couldn't quite catch Anthill Mob who won in the end from Neil Pryde Sailing in 2nd, Blue Badge in 3rd and Ullman Sails in 4th.
Race 7 and with the shards of pressure coming down the course getting ever stronger it was turning into a war of attrition. A slightly smaller fleet got away cleanly and this time Neil Pryde Sailing led at the top and bore away in a huge gust which carried them away from the chasing Pack. Behind them the race was on between Ullman Sails, Anthill Mob and Blue Badge rounded almost overlapped. Anthill Mob capsized on the hoist, and further on down the course Ullman Sails suffered the same fate when Bow Girl Char attempted to retrieve the kite sheet which had dropped over the bow leaving Neil Pryde Sailing to an easy win from Blue Badge with Ullman Sails and Anthill Mob trailing in by some distance.
By race 8 the conditions had worn out many teams and only a few lined up for the last race. At the top mark Anthill Mob led but capsized on the hoist allowing Neil Pryde Sailing past. However they recovered quickly and at the bottom mark they were neck and neck. As the race officer decided to shorten the course the Musto Skiffs finished at the same time in a huge bunch and Anthill Mob just snatched it.
Neil Pryde Sailing won the event overall from Blue Badge, followed by Anthill Mob and Ullman Sails.
The B14s would like to thank Stokes Bay Sailing Club for a well run event both on and off the water with quick turn arounds between races.
The next leg of the circuit will be at Whitstable on 19 - 20th May, followed by the National Championships at Beer the following Friday to Sunday, which with current indications should feature a strong entry.
Rank Sail No Helm Crew Club Race_1 Race_2 Race_3 Race_4 Race_5 Race_6 Race_7 Race_8 Nt Pts
1 761 Emmett Stuart RYA / Weston SC (7) 5 3 3 4 2 1 2 20
2 771 Bees Ferrett Brightlingsea SC 5 8 5 1 1 3 2 (15/DNC) 25
3 758 Harrison Ratcliffe HPYC 2 1 (15/DNC) 15/DNC 2 1 4 1 26
4 772 Watts Char Weston SC 4 7 6 6 3 4 3 (15/DNC) 33
5 791 Hayes Pygall Hayling Island SC 1 3 1 2 5 (15/DNC) 15/DNC 15/DNC 42
6 770 Hadley Hadley Bough Beech SC 6 6 2 4 6 5 (15/DNC) 15/DNC 44
7 788 Barnes Nicholson Whitstable YC 3 2 4 5 (15/DNC) 15/DNC 15/DNC 15/DNC 59
8 789 Hollingsworth Murphy Restronguet SC 8 4 7 (15/DNC) 8 6 15/DNC 15/DNC 63
9 769 Cowin Storer RYA 10 9 8 7 7 7 (15/DNC) 15/DNC 63
10 774 Sherratt Bennett Weston SC 9 12 10 9 9 (15/DNC) 15/DNC 15/DNC 79
11 742 Raynes Raynes Weston SC 12 11 9 8 (15/DNF) 15/DNC 15/DNC 15/DNC 85
12 721 Downer Price Gurnard SC 11 10 (15/OCS) 15/DNC 15/DNC 15/DNC 15/DNC 15/DNC 96
13 646 Cockrill Farr Netley SC 13 13 (15/DNF) 10 15/DNF 15/DNC 15/DNC 15/DNC 96
14 109 Gatehouse Wilks Lymington Town SC 14 14 11 (15/DNC) 15/DNC 15/DNC 15/DNC 15/DNC 99