by Mike Bees and Mark Barnes, 26 Apr.

The B14 bandwagon headed to the south coast after a bruising Rutland Inlands a few weeks ago. Over the weekend of the 23rd - 24th April, we were promised sun and fair wind. The sun arrived as ordered but the weather gods were to play their joker with the wind.

B14s at the Stokes Bay Skiff Open
B14s at the Stokes Bay Skiff Open © Tim Olin /

In the final days of the run-up to the event the forecasted breeze intensified with some models showing gusts up to 35 knots. As the day arrived, the forecast was to prove close to right with a number of teams deciding to not travel.

A hardy group from the B14 Flying Circus rolled up at Stokes Bay to be greeted by the friendly members running the show. Many of us were meeting friends face to face or the first time since March 2020 or even the end of the 2019 season.

Once the briefing had taken place, people looked out towards the Isle of Wight and could see the white caps. CHIMET was showing the wind consistently in the low 20s with gusts in the high 20s. With offshore NE'ly wind, the most fluky for the bay, teams rigged and set off to the course. The first wave about halfway out were hit by some big gusts the capsize-fest began.


B14s at the Stokes Bay Skiff Open
B14s at the Stokes Bay Skiff Open - photo © Tim Olin /

The few hardy B14s launched, and once clear of the beach popped their kites. We personally popped two gybes on the way out and arrived at the start area with smiles on our faces after a full-on ride, but very sailable.

After a delay in getting the marks laid due to the wind, the course was restricted in length by the shipping channel and land. The start sequence of RS800, B14 and then Musto Skiffs/RS700 got away first time, all plaining upwind.


B14s at the Stokes Bay Skiff Open - photo © Tim Olin /
B14s at the Stokes Bay Skiff Open - photo © Tim Olin /
Out of the B14s it was between Blue Badge (Mike Bees/Martin Worth) and Team Seavolution/North Sails (Mark Barnes, Charlotte Horlock). Blue Badge initially led the charge, but Seavolution/North Sails arrived at the windward mark first. Then the leg to the outer course followed by some fast downwind sailing under kite where both were blown deeper off the course in a monster gust, so dropping early with advantage to Blue Badge. Lap 2 the lead changed again with Blue Badge giving chase. Down the next run, Seavolution/North Sails pulled out a bit more of a lead. Unbeknown to the fleet the leeward mark was drifting and had come close to the start pin rib. As Seavolution/North Sails came in full bore, dropping their kite, the rib ended up to windward in the vicinity of the drifting buoy whilst heaving their anchor. Seavolution/North Sails spun out during the drop staying upright but trawling their kite. Kite retrieved, then spun round to give chase to Blue Badge. Over the next lap the gap closed but Blue Badge held firm and took the win. The rest of the B14 fleet took several swims and headed home all in one piece, deciding it was time to do some bimbling.

Race 2 and the breeze had solidified. This time Seavolution/North Sails took it to Blue Badge on a fast beat where they pulled out a lead by the windward mark. At this point Seavolution/North Sails left the course as crew Char was not feeling well as recovering from Covid. So this left Blue Badge to carry the flag for the B14s.

Race 3 ran with just Blue Badge on the course "getting in some practice" (aka beating up their tired bodies some more).


B14s at the Stokes Bay Skiff Open - photo © Tim Olin /
B14s at the Stokes Bay Skiff Open - photo © Tim Olin /
After a big day on the water where nearly every single handler had several swims as did many of the double handers, all fleets returned to shore, with only a couple of mast breakages and plenty of stories to tell. On arriving ashore pasta accompanied with beer/coke was greatly received by all the competitors.

In the evening Dan Vincent presented his now legendary quiz, with rounds including Trailers, Covers, Sailing & Art and the customary arts & crafts finale - all this interspersed with one-liners from Bob Monkhouse's cutting room floor. "Everyone laughed when Dan said he was going to do some jokes - well, they're not laughing now." The arts & crafts final round produced some stunning works which would put some of the professional art world to shame, not to mention their creators. The Musto team shot themselves in the foot by creating a lampoon of the quiz master, leaving the RS700 team to take the win on the line with the B14s and Musto Skiffs splitting tacks for in a fight for 2nd place.

Day 2 and a bit less breeze but still more than expected. All launched for some great sailing. Race 4 and the two main protagonists played the shifts up the middle of the beat. Asbo (Crispin Taylor/Gi Harrill) hit left and Seavolution/Gul (Amir Shamsuddin/Nick Pye) hit right, initially looking as though they were going to lead by a country mile. By the top mark the lead had already changed 3 times, but Asbo led with the four nose to tail. Down the run they split and advantage to Seavolution/North Sails followed by Asbo and Blue Badge. After three laps and a few more lead changes Seavolution/North Sails took the win from Blue Badge and Asbo.


B14s at the Stokes Bay Skiff Open - photo © Tim Olin /
B14s at the Stokes Bay Skiff Open - photo © Tim Olin /

Race 5 and the breeze had dropped slightly and gone NNE. The race became a right old ding dong between Blue Badge and Seavolution/North Sails with the lead changing several times a lap but by the finish the latter took the win with Asbo in third.

Race 6, the fleet were down to 4 but the racing was to be tight. Seavolution/North Sails seemed to have a bungie attached to Blue Badge with Blue Badge coming back in the shifts to just a few boat lengths. So it came down to the last run, with Blue Badge gybing on the windward mark and Seavolution/North Sails gybing 50 - 60 m. further to the right. Then hit by a gust these two went fully for it (see the photo) with the latter just holding on to take the buoy and dog leg to the finish with the win to Seavolution/North Sails.


B14s at the Stokes Bay Skiff Open - photo © Tim Olin /
B14s at the Stokes Bay Skiff Open - photo © Tim Olin /
At the end Blue Badge had three wins and three seconds, Seavolution/North Sails three wins and one second. Though not a big fleet, some great racing, tired bodies and no breakages. Worth the trip, great conditions and good Stokes Bay camaraderie as ususal.

The fleet, I would like to thank Stokes Bay Sailing Club and all the volunteers for hosting the event and race officer Tim Johnson and his team for a great weekend of racing.

The next B14 TT is the 21st - 22nd May at Weymouth. This will be a great event, so if looking to attend an event prior to the Europeans at Whitstable in September then make the effort to get to Weymouth.

Overall Results:

Pos Sail No Helm Crew Club R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Pts
1st 771 Mike Bees Martin Worth Brightlingsea SC 1 1 1 ‑2 2 2 7
2nd 799 Mark Barns Charlotte Horlock Whitstable 2 (DNF) DNC 1 1 1 11
3rd 789 Guy Harrill Gi Harrill Starcross YC (DNF) DNC DNC 3 3 3 21
4th 795 Amir Shamsuddin Nick Pye King George SC (DNF) DNC DNC 4 DNC 4 26
5th 766 Barry Price Gareth Lincoln Grafham Water SC (DNF) DNC DNC DNF DNC DNC 30