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GJW Direct SailFest - August BH weekend on Solent Shore of New Forest

by Brenda Hoult on 20 Aug 2014
Calshot aerial - Direct SailFest 2014 - Final round of the Garmin Summer Series © Calshot Activities Centre
GJW Direct SailFest heads to the Southern promontory of the New Forest this weekend with three fleets using the event as their National Championships - the Byes, ISOs and 18ft Skiffs. The strong coaching bias to the event sees a training day supported by North Sails One Design on Friday with continued coaching support throughout the event. Within the spirit of the SailFest, on the water tips are allowed and there will be a morning briefing to discuss tides and weather conditions each day.


After racing, footage from the Garmin VIRB cameras around the course will be analysed by the coaches in a daily post-racing debriefs. Experienced Laser coach James Royston will be focussing on the Laser and Byte classes throughout Saturday and Sunday. Expanding the coaching element this year also sees Nutrition Consultant and sailing fanatic Gareth Edwards join the proceedings. This is a fantastic opportunity to hear the views of a sailor with a contagious enthusiasm for nutrition who has been studying and prescribing performance related eating plans for over 20 years, unaffected by fashion and whims.

In addition to racing and coaching there will be activities ashore during the day and into the evening, making use of Calshot Activities Centre's awesome facilities. The RNLI have a routine exercise on Sunday morning and there is also the 16th Century Calshot Castle (run by English Heritage) to explore, plus plenty of beaches and the New Forest. Southampton's Maritime festival takes place on Friday and Saturday and hopefully the Spitfire and Hurricane fly-past at 2.30pm on Saturday will be clearly visible from the shore and race-area. All set for great event.


The fleet will be split into three or four starts for the handicap racing on Saturday and Sunday and GJW Direct SailFest culminates on Monday with the all-in North Sails One Design Long Distance Pursuit Race. This is double point scoring and non-discardable and not strictly all-in as it will exclude the Skiffs who will race their own separate course as they will do throughout the event. The PRO feels this is for the best!


Calshot Cats Sailing Club is based in the end of the enormous flying-boat hangar that now houses ski slopes, climbing walls and the velodrome. Their involvement in the event is hopefully a springboard for catamarans to be included in the racing at future editions and for SailFest14 their clubhouse will be the race office hub. Racing for Calshot Cats is generally an informal affair, haring around the Solent sampling the best ice-creams the waterside establishments have to offer, hence they have brought in experienced PRO Peter Knight and his team from SolentXtra, who ran the RSX course at the 2012 Olympics.


SailFest has the support of a number of local organisations with, in addition to the Fareham based North team and Warsash based PRO, will be assisted by the UK Youth Marine Training Academy, based just along the shoreline at Lepe. The UKYMTA are the featured charity for the event and will be providing their highly qualified young adults to be a part of the safety team (again led by a 2012 safety veteran, John Horwell). The youth members are equipped with a diverse range of skills and qualifications in marine activities, focusing around seamanship and the sport of power-boating. Having been working with Warsash SC during the Blaze Nationals and their main Optimist Open meeting (both being GPS tracked events) the club will also be providing some of the rescue cover during the weekend.

Applications are invited for National Championships to be hosted at SailFest in 2015. Other locations for future events are being considered, but tides for the 2015 bank holiday (28th to 30th August 2015) are good for Calshot and, with the work that has been put in to this year’s event, the organisers are keen to build on the same location and support teams for next year. As well as the opportunity to use the on-site facilities, two large slipways are complemented by plenty of parking, fantastic surroundings for competitors and shore-crew alike and extensive on-site regatta accommodation and catering.

With the cancellation of the Oxford Summertime Blue (scheduled for the same day as the Round the Island race - a very long day) the Garmin Summer Series will now be scored on competitors' best two results of the series, which means the placings in the overall series are still wide open. Currently RS300 sailor Tim Keen lies a close second behind Tom Gillard who has been sailing his Streaker throughout the series. Interesting, due to the scoring being weighted to level the high entry events with the smaller events, a number of high finishers in the Lord Birkett are in a strong position if they are also placed highly at SailFest.

The early entrants' prize was drawn earlier in the month and it was 18ft Skiff sailor Steve McLean who was the lucky winner of another or Garmin's fantastic VIRB Elite action cameras. SailRacer spotted he was racing at FedWeek and popped down to present him with his prize - so he should be getting to grips with it for some fast action footage over the weekend.

GJW Direct SailFest runs from Friday 22nd to Monday 25th August 2014, with the regatta racing from Saturday to Monday. The regatta represents the final round of the Garmin Summer Series, also supported by Gul and Trident. Find out more and enter here: sailfest.sailracer.org



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