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Final week of count-down to inaugural edition of GJW Direct SailFest

by Brenda Hoult on 16 Aug 2013
OTC beach 2 Graham Manchester Rick Tomlinson ©
Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy is in the final week of count-down to the inaugural edition of GJW Direct SailFest, inspired by the legacy of the 2012 Sailing Events held at the venue. Alongside the WPNSA Annual Handicap Regatta, there are activities ashore and afloat - something for everyone from eight to 80, from novice to world champion. 100 mixed dinghies will be competing for the WPNSA Handicap Regatta title in a series comprising of six handicap races over Saturday and Sunday, concluding with the Raymarine Long Distance Pursuit Race on Bank Holiday Monday.

Every boat will be fitted with a GPS tracker throughout the event with the action screened live at the Academy and via the internet to the armchair sailor worldwide.

The Byte Class are holding their National Championships as part of the regatta and there are strong contingents from a number of other classes, notably the Fireballs and Phantoms but also a significant group of RS300s, Isos and Javelins. As ever at such an event there is a strong representation by the Lasers, with standard, radial and 4.7s taking part.

A coaching day on Friday precedes the racing, a fantastic opportunity for competitors to gain a head start on making the best of the Olympic waters. Led by the massively experienced Peter Aitken and in conjunction with Raymarine this is also the time to learn to really use your Micro Compass to its full potential. Again for the racers, boat building legend Richard Woof will be at the Academy over the weekend, ready to pluck a (willing) boat owner from the water at the end of the racing day to run a seminar for all on how a boat that appears perfectly fit for racing has plenty of
potential to improve with careful planning and maintenance.

For everyone there are the Sports Activity Tasters. A chance for a full session in a choice of a selection of sports hosted by the on-site partners at the Academy. Paddlesports, windsurfing and sailing will be based on the water at WPNSA for 1½ to two hour sessions whilst mountain-bikers and rock-climbers will be taken off site to explore the
natural playground of Portland itself for a three hour experience.

The activity sessions will take place throughout the whole 4 days of the event with the racing specifically scheduled so that regatta racers don’t miss out on the fun with their families. Particularly on Sunday afternoon there should be plenty of time for sailors to have a go at something a little different.

Fancy something a little larger? The team from Key Yachting will be at SailFest from Friday afternoon through to Monday with the J/70, the new 7m, car towable sportsboat that was only launched last year. Stable and manageable across the full range of wind speeds, and with cockpit space for four to five people, Key Yachting are making the J/70 available for visitors to sail every day, irrespective of age or experience.

On Saturday evening a Hog Roast hosted at the Academy will feature guest speaker Peter Allam, new CEO of WPNSA with memories of the 2012 games as Deputy Manager for LOCOG, with a disco to follow. On Sunday the evening meal is at RYA Portland House, home of Team GBR during the games. Next year will see another great new event taking place within SailFest, for which the pilot will run between racing and the Hog Roast this year on Saturday evening. The Will Mackaness Trust Charity Duathlon is a race from the OTC slipway at WPNSA by windsurfer to Overcombe Corner and back to the slipway by bicycle. Next weekend the pilot will be demonstrated by some of the top RS:X development squad … Can you rise to the challenge to take them on next year?

If you haven’t done so already, enter or book activities now at website And a date for the diary, the next edition of SailFest is already scheduled for the same weekend, 23rd to 25th August 2014.

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