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B14 Nationals - Ullman Sails 3 reigns supreme at Whitstable

by Mike Bees/Mark Barnes on 14 May 2013
2013 B14 Nationals at Whitstable Stuart France
On Saturday at the B14 Nationals, the fleet of 28 quickly became resigned to the fact that the wind gods were against them and their wings were clipped for another day. With winds peaking at 40 knots around mid day, PRO Dave Curno, with accurate wind prediction, decided mid afternoon to postpone to Sunday and go for five races if time allowed.

With some ribs still afloat and 25 – 30 knot gusts coming through, GBR742 Budget Banger (Josh Wilce and Will Hall) pushed the go button and went out for a blast. It proved that racing was not an option but their heavy weather sail with only one capsize on a gybe was worth the watch. 40 minutes later they returned to shore to be greeted by helpers to get the boat ashore, with big smiles on their faces.

Saturday night BBQ, band and quiz entertained the fleet and kept the bar busy.

Sunday dawned to NW 30-32 knot breeze, again the weather forecast underplayed the wind strength. All the efforts for an early start were saddened. Lots of long faces at breakfast as deja vu enveloped the fleet. Fortunately at around 1030 hrs the breeze started to drop as forecast.

As soon as the committee boat was afloat, the fleet started to launch. PRO Dave Curno, eager to get in at least four races before the 1400 hrs curfew, got the course laid and the start sequence underway in double-quick time - a little too quickly for some including Anthill Mob, who were enjoying their breakfast picnic halfway up the beat, resulting in their starting a little late.


A slightly port-biased line saw Seavolution 1 (Mark Barnes/Jeremy Williamson (with new mast and mainsail)), Blue Badge (Mike Bees/Martin Worth (Ferret)) and Ullman Sails 1 (Mark Watts/Chris Bishop) make the best getaway with Ullman Sails 1 looking like they were making the early running. When the first significant shift came through, Blue Badge pulled ahead, leaving Ullman Sails, Seavolution and Seavolution 2 (Steve Hollingsworth/Elliot Holman) scrapping over the minor placings.

Ullman Sails 1 kept the heat on Blue Badge, but their challenge ended with a snagged kite halyard on the second lap which needed a capsize to fix. At the end Blue Badge won comfortably from Seavolution 1, with Anthill Mob making a screaming comeback to grab third after their late start. The last run shook up the minor placings with Seavolution 2 and Ronstan/Kingfisher Ropes (Tony Blackmore/Char Jones) dropping back from third and fourth as the pressure built on the opposite side of the run, finishing behind Neil Pryde (Mark Emmett/Allan Stuart).

In race 5, a more significantly port biased line resulted in a fight for the pin end, won by Seavolution 1 at the expense of Anthill Mob who moored themselves fast to the pin end buoy. The race developed into a straight fight between Seavolution 1 and Blue Badge, with the former getting an overlap at the first gate but leaving themselves with a high-tariff gybe drop inside the zone, which ended badly as they sailed over the kite. Fortunately a robust discussion between helmsman and crew quickly established the reasons and recovery procedure and apart from Blue Badge getting away they only lost five places.

Over the next beat they recovered to round the windward mark on the heals of Blue Badge. From there on Blue Badge and Seavolution 1 stretched away in their own loose cover chase finishing a matter of seconds apart at the finish with Blue Badge taking the bullet. In the chasing pack there ware many place changes with Seavolution 2 popping out to take a well deserved third from Neil Pryde by two seconds with Ullman Sails 1 another five seconds back.

In race 6, Seavolution 1 spotted something which nobody else had, and started on port ducking a fair few boats. After a few minutes on port, they hitched over to starboard and straight into a 150 m lead which they never looked likely to relinquish. Blue Badge, Ullman Sails 1, Troublegum/N50 (Alan Davis/Toby Barsley-Dale) and Seavolution 2 fought over the minor places. The course was shortened to two laps in order to squeeze in a fourth race before the curfew, resulting in a clear win for Seavolution 1. Second place for Blue Badge gave them the championship with a race to spare and they headed for the beach and a celebratory beer.


In race 7, with the decider for the minor places up for grabs, the main players headed for the pin. Seavolution 1, Ullman Sails 1 and Troublegum/N50 played for the pin with all three doing pretty well and no clear gain for either team.

Seavolution 1 worked the middle left to establish a lead over the fleet lead by Ullman Sails 1, Neal Pryde, Ullman Sails 3 (Kathy Sherratt/Ollie Needam) and Team Marlow (Dan Cowin/Dan Hollands). Over the next lap Seavolution 1 loose covered the fleet where place changes were occurring at regular intervals. On the final beat, all changed with Ullman Sails 1 hitching left into a 10° port lift and more pressure. Seavolution 1 tracked left to cover and just managed to drop a covering tack in front and claw a lead to the lay-line. Down the run Seavolution 1 popped the kite chased by Ullman Sails 1, pulling out a slim lead which they held to the finish. Third was a dogfight between four boats with Neil Pryde just pipping Ullman Sails 3 and the Anthill Mob.

The fleet headed ashore for a chilli pasta and the prize giving.

PRO Dave Curno ran a slick event with his well organised race team and Tony reciprocated with his shore team to make this a well remembered event in testing conditions.

Regional bragging rights went to the East Coast Boys who beat the South Coast All Stars. The result is the average total net score of all boats from the region.

Results:

1st Lady – Kathy Sherratt (Watts) - Ullman Sails 3
1st Youth – Jeremy Williamson – Seavolution 1
1st Tin Rig – Josh Wilce/Will Hall – Budget Banger
1st Handicap – Simon Brewer/Alistair Ramsden – Sabre Sails
2nd Handicap – Tom Gatehouse/Kate Wardle – Florescent Adolescent
Endeavour Trophy – Reece Triffitt/Richard Watson – Crimson Haybailer
1st Region – East Coast Boys – 81.4 points
2nd Region – South Coast All Stars – 84.6 Full results here

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