The B14 Flying Circus arrived at Stokes bay to be greeted by grey seas and 30+ knot winds, peaking at 40 knots around 1300. With the predicted forecast for Friday and Sunday, some chose not to make the trip. What a day they were to miss.
After being held ashore under AP, the fleet was advised that they were going to sea at 1530.
The first few boats tentatively launched into 25 knots that was fast reducing to 20+knots with gusts from the SW. After 30 minutes, the start sequence started. With several boats opting to sit this one out, the protagonists lined up for a fast charge round the bay.
At the off, the main players went from the committee boat end. Leading the charge were P&B South (Ben McGrane/Ollie Wells) and Whitstable Marine (Nick Craig/Tom Pygall). First of the front teams to head right was Blue Badge (Mike Bees/Ferret), followed by Seavolution North Sails (Mark Barnes/Ruth Oliver). With the bulk of the fleet heading left, Seavolution North Sails, got inside of Blue Badge and led the charge upwind followed by Blue Badge and Whitstable Marine. Rounding the windward mark and spreader bear away (Picking your moment) the front 4 hoisted their kites and sent them downwind full chat. All gybing successfully, Seavolution North Sails hit the left buoy (not literally) followed by Blue Badge (rounding the right buoy), Whitstable Marine and P&B South. With all 4 heading right, Whitstable Marine got the jump on Blue Badge and then on Seavolution North Sails at the windward mark. Heading downwind these 3 tracked closely with Whitstable Marine making a better job of the run into the gate, Blue Badge and Seavolution North Sails having to drop early due to the tide and increased wind, so allowing P&B South to get back into the mix. Going upwind there was little to pick between 2 and 4. Whitstable Marine had opened up a 100 m lead whilst the next 3 scrapped. Rounding the windward mark for the last time, Blue Badge was 2nd followed by Seavolution North Sails and P&B South overlapped with nothing between them. 2 and 3 launched their kites and charged off downwind. P&B South had a kite malfunction and 2 sailed to the finish, but held on to 4th.
Whitstable Marine took the gun, followed by Blue Marine and Seavolution North Sails. With a number of the fleet upside down and failing to finish in the allotted time, the R/O hoisted AP over A and sent the fleet ashore at 1715.
So what did we learn. There was little to chose between the front 4, with the first 2 having more righting moment and girl power showing what is possible with a bit of luck. Only gear failure was a broken mast that hit the bottom. The newbies that went out came in with big grins and found out why we love the B14.
Tomorrow is lighter and this will bring more boats into the mix. As the prediction is only 8 – 12 knots and 4 races, it will be a case of who keeps their cool and who is lucky.