Musto Skiffs at Datchet Water

Datchet Water Sailing Club welcomed eighteen Musto Skiffs to its event on the ninth and 10th of June.

This was the final opportunity for the fleet to judge how well their early season training was going against the fleet in a variety of conditions prior to the World Championships in two weeks.

The wind on Saturday was a challenging 20 knots blowing onshore with some feisty gusts on top. A handful of boats decided to sit out the first race – launching required three people to help get boats off the beach!

With a heavily biased port end start line in the first race, the majority of the fleet opted to start on port ‘Riva del Garda’ style which also minimised the number of tacks required upwind in the survival conditions. Ben Schooling led round the first windward mark with a good lead to the pack but capsized as he hoisted the kite. The pack blasted downwind with the majority capsizing on their first gybe. Some boats were finding white sail downwind sailing was more effective rather than risking capsizing with the kite up!

Chris Webber kept his boat upright more than the rest to lead at the downwind gate and through the next couple of laps until an injury forced him to retire from the event. Cooper took over to lead only to capsize after the final gate and just metres from the finish line. Jamie Hilton, recovering well from his early swim, sailed though the fleet and took the bullet – Sergei ‘I don’t capsize’ Samus was second and Cooper finished third.
Race two started with more boats on the water after an on shore postponement waiting for the challenging wind speed to drop. Cooper sailed well to get the win. Martin followed in second and Hilton was third.

The final race of the day was held in perfect ‘champagne sailing’ conditions. The usual faces appeared at the front as Hilton led round the first windward mark. He was overtaken by Martin who gybed early into a bigger gust. Hilton used a left hand shift on the next upwind leg to regain the lead which he held onto until the finish. Cooper threatened second place momentarily towards the end of the final lap however was forced to settle for third at the finish behind Martin. Palfreman finished fourth and Samus closed out his very successful day with a second fifth place putting him in third place overnight after Hilton and Cooper.

Sunday dawned with totally different conditions – the water was a mirror. The fleet were held ashore for an hour for the breeze to fill in.

Racing started in light patchy, puffy breeze with the odd downdraft from aircraft landing at nearby Heathrow causing ‘mini-hurricanes’ on the water and resulting in surprise capsizes throughout the fleet.
Cooper took the fourth race followed by Schooling and Martin. Fifth race was also won by Cooper who was now starting to turn the screw on the rest of the fleet.

After a bit of course moving for race 6, David Annan sped in to lead from the left side of the beat. He led round most of the race and unfortunately sailed into a hole after gybing early down the final run. This allowed Dave Poston through to take first place and Hilton to take second. Cooper followed Annan over the line to finish fourth.

Going into the final race only two boats could win the open meeting – Cooper was ahead of Hilton by just one point. To take the overall win Hilton needed to either win the race outright or finish second with at least one boat between him and Cooper. This led to exciting watching as Hilton engaged Cooper in some pre-start match racing.

Whilst this was going on, Palfreman found his usual light wind boatspeed and sailed off into the distance to take the win by a considerable margin. It was helped in part by a mini-hurricane which capsized second placed Poston near the windward mark preventing other boats from rounding more quickly. Schooling and Martin sailed though Poston to complete the top three places.

Whilst Hilton managed to sail Cooper down the fleet, he was not able to sail back up to second – even after a bell ringing final beat – and finished the race in fifth place. This handed the overall event win to Cooper who sailed very well demonstrating consistency throughout the variety of conditions.

Many thanks to Datchet Water Sailing Club for running the full race programme. Next event is the Musto Skiff World Championships at Weymouth at the end of June – with record 104 skiffs entered to date it promises to be a legendary event.

2012 Musto Performance Skiff Open Meeting at Datchet Water Sailing Club  Overall
1st461Alex CooperStokes Bay313114(7)2013
2nd444Jamie HiltonDatchet Water Sailing Club131432(5)1914
3rd351Ian MartinDatchet Water Sailing Club(19 DNS)2234533819
4th295Michael PalfremanStokes Bay4(8)462813325
5th456Sergei SamusDatchet Water Sailing Club2558(11)1095039
6th373Paul MolesworthDatchet Water Sailing Club578(13)7685441
7th097Gavin BrewerStokes Bay66(9)98965344
8th291Ben SchoolingDatchet Water Sailing Club(19 DNF)19 DNF7210726647
9th169David AnnanGrafham Water(19 DNS)910149346849
10th113Ed WilkinsonStokes Bay(19 DNS)467141119 DNC8061
11th216Jon Modral-Gibbons 7(19 DNC)19 DNC5519 DNC19 DNC9374
12th310Paul WhitesmithChew Valley Sc(19 DNS)1011111514139374
13th324David PostonDatchet Water Sailing Club(19 DNC)19 DNC19 DNC19 DNF61119475
14th086Alec McKinlayDatchet Water Sailing Club(19 DNC)19 DNC19 DNC1012131010283
15th152Nicholas LakeDatchet Water Sailing Club(19 DNS)19 DNC19 DNC1213121210687
16th260Mark CooperBurghfield SC8(19 DNC)19 DNC15161519 DNC11192
17th362Chris WebberBewl Valley SC(19 DNF)19 DNC19 DNC19 DNC19 DNC19 DNC19 DNC133114
17th350Mason WoodworthDatchet Water Sailing Club(19 DNS)19 DNF19 DNC19 DNC19 DNC19 DNC19 DNC133114

Musto Skiffs website