The B14 Flying Circus headed to Stokes Bay Sailing Club, venue of the 2015 National Championships for their second TT of the year, and first sailed event, due to Rutland being blown off. The forecast was for gusts in excess of 25 maybe 30 knots on both days, so those travelling further, stayed away as they had an inkling they were in for another Rutland weekend propping up the bar and recounting tales of mad off-roading on bikes and skiing holidays for those that did not go to the Worlds in McCrae Australia

So those that did attend, were treated to flatish water and SW 8 – 15 knots, unlike the promised breeze the heavier bomber command teams had been salivating over and enjoying a hearty week, found they were going to have their hands full with the lighter teams.

B14 TT at Stokes Bay photo copyright Tim Olin taken at Stokes Bay Sailing Club and featuring the B14 class

Photo by Tim Olin

So with a slight delay to allow the wind to settle, Saturday’s 3 races back to back got underway. The Committee Boat end paid and the RS800s gave a taste of which way to go. Up the first beat the lead was shared by Neil Pryde (GBR 784 – Mark Emmett/Alan Stuart), Troublegum (GBR 787 – Alan Davis/Kathy Sherratt (Watts)), Seavolution/North (GBR788 – Mark Barnes/Ruth Oliver) and GBR 744 (Chris Duffin/Chris Rust). First round the windward mark stretching their legs over the next 3 laps was Seavolution/North, but behind them was a right old bun fight with place changes going on to the very finish with Leaky Pipes (GBR 786 – Gerry Fermor/Chris Fermor) rolling the dice on the last run to get the jump on Troublegum and GBR 744.

B14 TT at Stokes Bay photo copyright Tim Olin taken at Stokes Bay Sailing Club and featuring the B14 classMark Emmett and Alan Stuart mid tack in GBR 784 Neil Pryde. Photo by Tim Olin 

Race 2 and with a steady breeze, and quick turnaround, they were off with nothing between the front 6 bar a nose up the beat, it was duck and drive, with Neil Pryde leading down the run. Up the next beat it was between Troublegum and Leaky Pipes who got inside the leader and rolled past Neil Pryde. Once on their way and with the promise of an extra rum for Troublegum, there was no stopping them. They went on to win with Neil Pryde, Seavolution/North and Leaky Pipes having a right old ding dong, till Seavolution/North tried an interesting kite drop (I won’t be doing that one again) just behind Neil Pryde and had to stop to sort off the rudder, letting Leaky Pipes through to third.

Race 3 and more of the same, with big smiles and frustration as one minute heroes sunk to zeros as the pressure started to be patchy with the impeding front moving in. Seavolution/North and Neil Pryde battled at the front with GBR 744, Troublegum and Leaky Pipes on their heels. Though there was close racing and lots going on tactically with the disturbance from the other fleets, Seavolution/North held on from Neil Pryde and Troublegum.

The fleet headed ashore for some light refreshment (beer more beer and rum), dinner and Dan Vincent’s much anticipated quiz night. There were no disappointments there, and the B14s (Cunning Stunts) overhauled the RS800s and Musto Skiffs to take first place, with a bit sportsmanship played out.

Sunday and the NE kicked in with 8 – 12 knots and flat water, but more shifty.

After a short delay, race 4 and the fleet were out of the starting blocks with HB&R Consulting Ltd (GBR 766 Barry Price/Gareth Lincoln) and GBR 728 (Alex Horlock/Ed Pearce (tin mast and first event)) leading the charge up the first beat. GBR 728 got inside on the first big shift and led onto the downwind leg where the pack caught them, to all round together at the leeward mark. Up the next beat Seavolution/North squeezed out a short lead and covered the closest protagonists, but Leaky Pipes had not read the script with these 2 changing the lead up to 3 times a leg over the next lap, but Seavolution/North played the coup de grace on the final beat to survive the run and short leg to the finish.

Race 5 and bumper cars, here we come. As the gun fired, all hit the line at speed with first Neil Pryde, the Seavolution/North, then GBR 744 snatching the lead to keep ahead for the downwind leg and into the next beat. At the next windward mark Seavolution North/had a slim lead with GBR 744 on the inside squeezing to round. On rounding both boats were right alongside each other and as the inside boat bore away the wings slightly overlapped with Chris Duffin hopping off, only to remount, gybe and sail away into the biggest gust and go on to win. Seavolution/North spun though there was no clunking of carbon and gave chase closing in on the pack, but over the race did not get back to the front. GBR 744 won by a furlong followed by Neil Pryde and Troublegum.

The head scratching and number computation was underway in the brain fog to see who had to do what to beat whom in the run in to the final finish. 


Alan and Kathy in GBR 787 Troublegum, ahead of Barnsie. Photo by Tim Olin

Race 6 and all gunning for it, all charged forward. It would appear the middle of the line paid as most stacked at the committee boat. Neil Pr yde got a wiggle on and got inside on the first right shift. Leading round the windward mark, they had 3 boats overlapped (GBR 744, Troublegum and Seavolution/North) fighting for position. This gave Neil Pryde a breather and allowed them to stretch to a decent lead to win. Behind them it was far from over. Troublegum and Seavolution/North ducked and dived, but the latter held on to second and first overall from Neil Pryde and Troublegum.

A great weekend with some very tight racing, good race management, great entertainment from Dan Vincent and family. We’ll be back in force next month to thrash it out for the championship 

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