by Alan Davis
It was an early start in the bar for many at the B14 Nationals, enjoying the usual Whitstable YC hospitality. Many teams (including two boats from France) arrived early for some pre-event practice, only to be met by a warm 40 knot welcome from Whitstable.
A win for the Acxion at Whitstable
Friday dawned with gusts well into the 30's and,following a less than optimistic briefing from PRO Dave Curno, the
fleet set about bimbling and relaxing.
The fleet were naturally less than enthusiastic as they were called to the race course in what looked like only marginally improved conditions. The game of 'who is going to launch first' ensued, with the eventual 'winners' being team Ullman Sails who questioned their own sanity as it took four helpers to hold the boat down to launch!
After proving it was vaguely sailable a skeleton fleet hit the water for race 1...
Race 1 saw Ullman sails (Mark Watts/Chris Bishop) lead at the windward mark with Anthill Mob (Tim Harrison/Jonny Radcliffe) and Blue Badge (Mike Bees/Ferret) and fleet newcomers 'On it like a car bonnet' (Will Hall/Josh Wilce) in hot
Lap 2 saw a big wind shift with Blue Badge pulling through to lead to the finish, with Anthill Mob and Ullman Sails
separated by less than a boat length blasting down a final run showdown, Anthill mob taking second.
In Race 2, with the wind moderating, more of the fleet braved the conditions. Team Neil Pryde led for the first lap only to take a scenic detour round the furthest leeward mark, suffer gear issues and disappear down the order. Anthill Mob sailed a solid race to take the bullet from Blue Badge. Ullman Sails succumbing to kicker failure (again...) could not hold off a charging 'On it like a car bonnet' who took a well earned third.
Race 3 started with the breeze building and at the pin it was Ullman sails and blue badge leading off the line from Team Neil Pryde and Antill Mob. At the top it was Ullman Sails leading from Blue Badge, 'On it like a car bonnet', Anthill Mob. On the second lap Anthill Mob took an early swim (Jonny 's fault apparently!!) leaving Neil Pryde to come back into the frame. On the last lap the breeze had built again and was completely on the sailable limit. Blue Badge took the lead but nearly put it in the tide on the last gybe, allowing Ullman Sails to blast through to the win. Team Neil Pryde came through to third and Troublegum (Alan Davis/Toby Barsley-Dale) fourth.
With many teams deciding that conditions were too extreme today, including a few front runners suffering too, it's still all to play for tomorrow - and in the bar tonight...