stokesbay02thumbWith the first round at Rutland having been postponed until August thanks to the very cold spring, and an early Nationals looming, Stokes bay was to be the only TT event to tune up. A healthy 13 boats turned up, as many as the RS400s who shared the event, with a couple of last minute substitute crews stepping up after work commitments and illnesses intervened.

stokesbay01thumbSaturday morning dawned sunny, with a bit more breeze than expected though with a forecast for it to drop. Masts went up, and down, and up, and down, and up again with the halyards, shrouds and control lines finally all arranged properly. Launching into the chilly Solent, it was a short run down to the start area in the south easterly breeze.

Most of the fleet got away cleanly, though a couple of boats had been misled as to what the class flag looked like. The fleet was tightly bunched at the windward mark, with the late starters catching up. The Race officer had been slightly enthusiastic with the mark laying, with the lead boat only just finishing within the hour time limit. Showing very good form, this was a new combination from Restronguet, with Elliot Holman crewing for Steve Hollingsworth on GBR789.

Race 2, in lighter wind, more tide and on a shorter course again saw tight racing, but this time perennial masters of light conditions Tim and Jonny on GBR758 came through to take the win after the race was shortened by a lap. By now the wind was failing. Some boats decided to head for the shore, and were soon followed when the RO abandoned racing for the day. Ashore, beers were started early, with shelter being sought as the breeze returned.

antoniaAn evening of top class entertainment followed, with the always dangerous Mount Gay happy hour and Dan Vincent’s quiz (with class themed question rounds and a drag contest) being enjoyed by all. Proceedings were slightly more restrained this year, with everyone successfully finding their B&B, lift home or frozen tent.

Sunday morning again was sunny, with a light breeze. With the wind now in the west, the start line was even closer to the launch ramp. Tim & Jonny again took the win, with Steve & Elliot recovering from their race 2 wobble to take 2nd. Racing was tight through the fleet, with a final run tussle for 11th between heavyweights Barry & Al on GBR 766 “HB&R Consulting” and newcomers James & Anne Gardner on GBR620.

With the wind dying and a postponement up, most of the fleet went ashore to see what the wind would do. It appeared that there was wind in the western Solent, it was a question of whether it was going to come to us quickly enough. When it did start to fill in, the fleets were encouraged to launch quickly whilst the race team shifted the marks. Beezer & Ferret (GBR771 “Blue Badge”) took the second behind Tim and Jonny, with Barnsie & Jeremy (GBR788 “Seavolution”) climbing steadily from their first race 10th place to claim a second third.

With the 2pm start deadline rapidly approaching, the RO did not wait for the rear of the Musto fleet to finish swimming before cracking on with a fifth and final start sequence. The wind was now strong enough for even big lumps to consider moving on to the wing, though this was also forming some nasty chop to really test upwind boat handling- it’s all very well having power but you need to be able to use it. Experience came to the fore, with Bees & Ferret taking the win, but Tim and Jonny’s 2nd place saw them take first place overall with Bees & ferret 2nd. Despite slipping to 7th in the final race, the superb 1st and 2nd place saw Steve & Elliot take the tie break for 3rd overall from a more consistent Seavolution

Our thanks to Stokes bay for another fantastic event. The race management handled the four classes superbly, with little hanging around waiting for a class to finish, and little conflict on the water between boats of different classes- certainly nothing that wasn’t dealt with amicably.