18ft Skiff National Championship at Sandbanks - Poole
What a treat!
The 18ft skiff class is, as far as I know, the only class that gets to sail off the beach at Sandbanks in Poole and you have to keep pinching yourself to remember you are in the UK. The event is hosted by the water sports academy and run by Parkstone Yacht Club, which makes such a location possible so let's start with the praise for them.
With a solid turnout of eight boats and a couple of boats out of hibernation the scene was set for a great event. You do not need many boats in the 18ft skiff class to make it seem very busy, with very high closing speeds, even in 8 knots of a breeze, and boats 20ft wide when the crews are trapezing.
Race 1 got underway in light puffy conditions. Pica made the most of the start by pulling off port end flyer to lead at the top mark from Hyde sails and LED. At the final downwind mark Hyde Sails had pulled right back up to Pica and opted to roll the dice on the next beat in search of victory, this proved to be very stupid and it eroded their margin over the 3rd place boat Nene Outdoors, who had overhauled LED and then Hyde Sails, due to their risky strategy. Final placings 1.Pica 2. Nene Outdoors 3rd Hyde Sails.
Race 2 saw chaos at the start. Pica and Nene outdoors, thought they would try for a port end flyer again, however with the fleet now back in touch with their time and distance was not going to let this happen. It resulted in some serious avoiding action from the fleet to dodge the bad mannered boats. Pica managed to do their turns and were left at the back, however a bang the corner approach paid and it got them back up to 4th by the top mark. Leading at the top mark was Hyde sails, followed by LED and FP. The positions stayed the same for 1 lap until a big puff on the downwind saw a complete reshuffle – Pica now in the lead and staying there to the finish followed by LED and Nene.
Race 3, now with more breeze the crews were 3 stringing up and down the course. At the top mark Hyde sails again were leading, however Pica and LED got through on the run. By the top mark second time positions were same but down the run Hyde sails were coming to the leeward mark in new pressure flying, however with a gybe drop on the cards with not much room they went swimming, the middle man missing his trapeze after the gybe and therefore leaving 2 on board, which resulted in the inevitable swim. This allowed FP to take the position. Leaving 1. Pica, 2. Led, 3. FP.
With the sun shining and it looking like the Med in summer the fleet rigged on big rigs and got out to the start line in the lightest wind possible.
Race 4. Hyde sails made the most of a port end start, before tacking on to starboard and heading towards to the pressure which was coming from the land, during this Pica hit Hyde resulting in more turns for Pica. At the top FP lead after a solid beat followed by Hyde Sails and English Braids the positions stayed the same until the next beat where there was some placing changing Pica made ground but then got the wrong side of the shift and ended up really deep. FP extended and LED came from nowhere up the middle to round 2nd. Leaving FP to win followed by LED then Hyde. Pica came in 5th putting a blip in their faultless performance so far.
Race 5, after an aborted race due to no wind the sea breeze kicked in and it was perfect sailing. All boats behaved and started well all on starboard! Half way up the beat pica tacked and ducked the 3 leaders, which were FP, Hyde and LED. However the right seemed to work with the wind being steady this may have been a tide related gain, which allowed Pica and Nene to lead at the top, leaving the others well behind. LED managed to pass Nene to claim 2nd from Pica.
18ft Skiff Nationals at Parkstone - photo © David Harding / www.sailingscenes.com
18ft Skiff Nationals at Parkstone - photo © David Harding / www.sailingscenes.com
Final race was held in glamour conditions again. The start was clean Hyde sails opted to start on port to get out to the right where the tidal gain seemed to be, this paid dividends they crossed everyone once they had tacked back but where just too tight on their lay line and managed to catch the top mark which put them out the back of the pack. LED and pica then ensued in a race long battle with Nene, with Pica coming good and taking the title too, from LED and Nene.
It was a fantastic event - it always is. It was the classes 3rd time to Sandbanks. Next year it may be run as a European GP event (watch this space) so it will be even bigger, it could not be better. The class's health is great. We have 2 new boats arrived from Australia and also people wanting to come into the class. The classified boats currently on the market are of the highest standard and would make very viable boats for competing at the top level in Europe. The class will be at the dinghy show and offering a try and 18 day next year.
We would love to see some new faces. Get 3 of your mates together, each pay for a third, and come enjoy the friendly atmosphere and fastest Skiff racing out there.
UK Grand Prix Series - Round 2
The fleet travelled to Grafham Water Sailing Club this weekend for Round 2 of the UK Grand Prix Series. Both days were forecast to be light winds, so all the small rigs stayed very much in their bags.
After a brief postponement to wait for the wind to settle down, the skiffs launched to get racing underway. The score line for the day would tell the tale of a dominant Graham Bridle and his ChameleonI skiff team, but the patchy breeze made place changes inevitable. Some new teams had their turn at the front and all teams at some point found themselves fighting it out from the back. The end of the first day had ChameleonI in front with 3 bullets and The Rutland Chandlery Skiff Team in second place.
The second day was much more consistent with the breeze gusting up to 17 knots. The Rutland Chandlery Skiff Team took the first 2 races to bring them right back into contention after ChameleonI ran over the final windward mark to let them through and capsized over the line trying to gain the place back. Other teams enjoyed the breeze and the extra challenges it brought, sometimes ending up in a quick dip!
This brought the last race to a showdown between the two leading boats, where whoever won would take the win for the weekend. As with the whole weekend, the start was hotly contested and The Rutland Chandlery Team managed to hold the lane out to the left hand side of the course, whilst others tacked off into their own breeze. A big left shift made its way down the course, leaving ChameleonI and the rest of the fleet trailing The Rutland Chandlery Team around the first top mark. That was how the next 4 laps continued, leaving The Rutland Chandlery Skiff Team to take their third bullet of the day and, on countback, first place for the weekend event.
The fleet would like to thank Grafham Water Sailing Club for being so accommodating to the fleet and putting on some great racing. The Third and Final round of the UK Grand Prix Series and UK National Championships are to be held at Sandbanks in a months' time (5th and 6th September) with many teams in contention for both titles.
Mark Foy Sailing Report - Day 5
The final day of the Mark Foy was held on an incredibly hot day, with most teams taking in the last of the warm conditions.
Delonghi made the bold decision to launch on their big rig, being the only boat to do so. After some congestion getting off the beach, little prep was allowed before the first race was started. As the breeze built, the bigger rig of Delonghi started to slow upwind compared the efficient smaller rigs on the rest of the fleet.
However, with a huge sail area downwind, they were able to sail a much deeper course. Pica and Black Dog both had to retire in the first race due to kit failure, setting Delonghi up for a possible jump into second place. Howie Hamlin managed to seal his 7th bullet of the week giving Harken the championship.
The final race saw the rest of the podium decided, with the podium boats only being tied by a few points. Delonghi stuck to the lighter side of the course providing lifts and relief from the building breeze. Even with the monstrous power downwind, Delonghi couldn't pass Black Dog who finished 3rd to seal an overall second place in the regatta. Pica couldn't keep in front of Delonghi and surrendered their podium place to leave Delonghi finishing in 3rd place overall.
The fleet will return to Torbole next year for their European championships with many teams eager to come back and make the most of the guaranteed sun and wind that Lake Garda has to offer.
Mark Foy Sailing Report - Day 4
Gains and Losses:
Lake Garda is a great test for every boat! If you and your gear stand one week of sailing here you can go where ever you want, without having damage or breakage in mind. Today, another Spinnaker and a boom exploded. Another punctual breeze picked up at 12 o'clock and the fleet began to launch their boats for another guaranteed day of champagne sailing!
Pica fell back to third and team Black Dog jumped to second. Howie Hamlin with Scott Babbage and Peter Harris seem to be unbeatable. Only Stewart Mears (GBR 92), Jarrod Simpson (GBR 47), Lee Knapton (AUS, Mojo Wines) and Grant Rollerson (AUS, Delonghi) with their Crews have beaten him this week.
Soon it is time to say "Good Bye" to Torbole ...only one more day sailing left!
Please find the results of day 4 in the todays pictures: