Editor's Note: Day 1 didn't happen due to strong wind- the race officer took the readings and confirmed it was (well!) above the class rule limits. Crazy Boules happened, as well as much "socialising". The day 2 report was written by Mr Davis who may have been increasingly "tired and emotional" and received "help" from many others.
“You couldn’t have made it up”
After the conditions in Race 1 the fleet looked relieved to set off into a fluky force 1-2. Team Ullman Sails (Mark Watts/Kathy Sherratt) found a magic path into the building breeze coming down the course and held a significant lead round the top mark. Leaky Pipes (Leaky and Gerry Fermor) led the rest of the fleet from FRA 773 (Alain and Francois Cadre). The next lap saw Leaky Pipes put on a charge whilst Ullman Sails took on the dangerous game of trying to cover the fleet in increasingly patchy conditions. The finish saw the Ullman team take the win from Leaky Pipes after a nervy final run. FRA 773 added a solid third place to their Race 1 victory.
Ullman Sails again found a magic path through the holes to lead round the top mark, this time from FRA 777 (Sebastien and Sophie Le Cam) who were closely chased by a pack of 5 boats. Sadly a wrap in the kite during the hoist saw FRA 777 drop back through the fleet.
The final run saw Ullman Sails lead comfortably to the finish but behind the pack split with some taking a hotter angle to stay in the pressure whilst others took the slower direct route to the mark. The end of the race saw shouts from the converging pack and the flash of the photo finish cameras Team Neil Pryde (Mark Emmett/Allan Stuart) took second from Team Marlow (Dan Cowin/Ollie Needham) by a short nose.
After a number of extremely rapid course resets by the PRO and his team, along with one aborted start, the new breeze finally clicked in to provide a reliable force 2-3. The fleet got away cleanly with mixed views on the favoured side. At the top mark FRA 773 led the fleet round and were never challenged. The downwind legs were to prove key with numerous place changes as the fleet sought out the best pressure lanes. The best of the bunch were a resurgent GBR 785 (Peter Knight/Tom Redgrave) from an increasingly consistent Team Neil Pryde, with Ullman Sails recovering on the downwind legs to finish right on their heels.
With the wind dropping slightly FRA 773 took the right side with Neil Pryde and Seavolution (Mark Barnes/Charlie Game), Ullman Sails and Leaky Pipes heading out to the left. At the top mark all 5 converged with FRA 773 leading round and sailing off to an unchallenged win, showing superb downwind speed (throwing the technique book out of window and sailing hot and fast angles in the lighter breeze to great effect). Leaky Pipes held 2nd until the final downwind leg where Ullman Sails overhauled them before the finish.
Overnight FRA 773 (Alain and Francois Cadre) lead by 2 points overall from Ullman Sails (Mark Watts/Kathy Sherratt) in 2nd and Neil Pryde (Mark Emmett/Allan Stuart) 3rd. With the forecast for 3 or 4 races in a building Southerly breeze it was all set to be a close battle between these teams for the title after another night of great hospitality from the team at the Centre Nautique de Plerin.
The fleet got away in a force 3-4 with the majority of the fleet hitting the left hand corner hard. With the breeze building it was time for some of the expected favourites to make their presence known. At the top mark a close pack of 5 boats led round including title contenders FRA 773 and Neil Pryde.
Throughout the rest of the race the pack changed places with Leaky Pipes pulling through to lead and take the bullet. Seavolution finally shook off the weekend’s sea monsters to take 2nd. 3rd was a photo finish with Neil Pryde just getting the nod from FRA 773. Ullman Sails recovered from a poor first beat to claim 6th on the line.
With the breeze now building to a gusty offshore 4-5 the fleet charged out the left led by GBR 785. A few boats including Ullman Sails chose to play the middle. At the top mark the fleet rounded behind GBR785 en masse. With the fleet following like sheep out to the right downwind Ullman Sails broke left to pick up more pressure and charge through to first in champagne downwind conditions. Neil Pryde led the pack round in second.
Ullman Sails led out the left but as the wind grew increasingly shifty and patchy a number of boats played the right to break through. FRA 773, Neil Pryde and GBR 785 lead round the top mark in a tight pack from Ullman Sails.
Once again Ullman Sails were first to gybe off to the left while the lead boats hit the right corner. Nailing the layline through the finish in more pressure Ullman Sails took the bullet from under the noses of GBR 785, FRA 773 and Neil Pryde.
All to play for – with the title and podium positions all undecided and the breeze continuing to build. The fleet split up the beat with no obvious favoured route. The right won out this time with “Team Saga” (Crispin Taylor/Guy Harrill) leading round a nose-to-stern pack including Neil Pryde, Seavolution, FRA 773 and Ullman Sails.
The fleet had now learnt their lesson of the previous race - all gybed left early, but Ullman Sails again played the pressure lanes better than the rest, gybing back to the middle and taking a healthy lead at the bottom gate in the building breeze.
Leading out to the right Ullman Sails tacked to apply loose cover to the fleet but disaster struck as their primary kicker block self-destructed, along with their race - and championship - hopes. However the fun for the rest of the fleet was just about to begin as the wind continued to build!
With the wind hovering around the 25 knot limit, “Team Saga” capsized tacking for the final windward mark and an injury to Guy forced their retirement. The windward mark proved “interesting” for most of the fleet as gusts close to 30 knots made gargantuan amounts of intestinal fortitude a pre-requisite of a successful bear-away. Several teams swam on the gybe, including the new event favourites FRA 773. As the breeze continued to increase Neil Pryde were unfortunate to lose their rig over the front while leading only for GBR 785 to follow suit whilst pushing (too?) hard to hold an increasingly hot layline for the bullet. The win passed to Seavolution with Team Marlow showing some crazy two-sail gybing “skills” (a.k.a. bravado and luck?!) to take a deserved 2nd from 50 North (Alan Davis/Toby Barsley-Dale) in 3rd. FRA 773 eventually unwrapped themselves from an underwater mating ritual with Leaky Pipes to finish down the order.
The calculators came out as the fleet hobbled back to the beach with the final race abandoned. The fancied French team of Alain and Francois Cadre (FRA 773) had done enough to take the title from Mark Watts and Kathy Sherratt (Team Ullman Sails) by a single point. The very consistent team of Mark Emmett and Allan Stuart (Neil Pryde) taking a well-deserved 3rd.
The fleet owes a huge thanks to the Centre Nautique de Plerin for some of the greatest hospitality we have ever seen and to Sebastien and Sophie Le Cam for their fine organisational work setting the event up on behalf of the French fleet. The PRO and his team were faultless throughout, despite very challenging conditions, with first-class race management. The event once again proved the B14 fair play approach with only a single protest in the entire event, even then it was a request for redress on an OCS decision.
With teams ranging from 135-160kg in the top 5, and ladies in 2nd and 4th, the class has never been more open and looks forward to continuing to build the French fleet who have made amazing progress over the last 2 years to be confirmed as home of the 2012 European Champions and some very competitive B14 teams.
We will be back for sure to what has to be one of the best kept sailing secrets in Brittany!
Full results are here. Click on the pictures for bigger versions