UK 18ft Skiff Grand Prix round ont at Stone Sailing Club.
The strong seven boat turnout including some new faces in the class was a very positive start to the season. The wind alluded the fleet on Saturday and the day was spent sharing ideas, comparing off season developments, catching up and discussing plans for the season.
Saturday evening was a social night at Stone Sailing Club which hosted a beer and curry evening for the competitors. Stone has more skiff heritage than might first have been thought with the emergence of UK Skiff racing during the 70's at the Club. This is where Peter Legroves’ OTIS, the first UK 18ft Skiff, was based. Old photos can be found under the 'UK in the 70s' tab on photo time line here.
Despite a very still Sunday morning the breeze started to fill from the forecast direction and by midday had developed into a sea breeze. The first race saw Investec come off the blocks convincingly, taking an early lead over Team Pica sailing their newly acquired boat Benny. Hyde Sails ducked HPF heading for more pressure but also tide. This paid off and Hyde Sails rounded second.
Followed by Pica, HPF then Team Aftica competing in their first 18ft Skiff event. A knotted halyard caused trouble onboard Hyde Sails resulting in a Pica passing into second. Final positions resulted in a win for Investec followed by Pica, third Hyde Sails and fourth HPF.
HPF won the start of the second race whilst Investec were caught over the start line at the pin. Pica decided to tack and duck transoms to get to the right hand side where breeze proved to be building and led at first mark. Hyde sails were a safe third followed by close racing between Aftica, HPF and The Rutland Skiff. With the sea breeze continuing to develop the right hand side of the course favoured resulting in a convincing win for Pica, Investec second, Hyde Sails third and Rutland Skiff fourth.
By the third race the breeze built enough for crews to three string. The tide had started to turn, providing a potential favour to the left on the beat but with breeze strengthening from the right. Hyde Sails opted for a port tack start and took transoms to get to the right, heading for the new pressure .
Pica were around first windward mark in the lead with Hyde Sails benefiting from the right hand side ahead of Investec. Racing was close between Hyde and Investec, Investec finally getting room at the leeward mark to pass into second place. Final positions were a further race win for Pica followed by Investec, Hyde Sails and HPF.
With all competitors opting for a fourth Race and all boats on the line at the gun, it was a close start. Pica controlled the right hand side and led at first mark closely followed by Investec. Mark Watts and his Cardiff based team on board their B18 'Aftica' continued pilling pressure on HPF ensuring a well earned fourth place and justifiably awarded best newcomer of the event. Pica held first place to secure an overall win for the first UK 18ft Skiff Grand Prix of 2011.
Thanks to Stone Sailing club for the great event management, facilities, hospitality and friendly welcome. Also thanks to Action Cameras for the GoPro Hero to capture on board footage as well as supporters and technical partners Bluesheets Marine Directory, Ovington, Time on the Water and Magic Marine.