Weather challenges at final event of the Garmin Summer Series

Tim Keen - 2014 GJW Direct SailFest
GJW Direct SailFest, the final round of the Garmin summer Series, took place over the August Bank Holiday weekend, starting with a coaching day on Friday with six races scheduled over Saturday and Sunday, culminating in the North Sails One Design Long Distance Pursuit on Monday. SailFest incorporated far more than just a handicap racing regatta with national championships, coaching, nutrition, shore-side activities and a strong social atmosphere throughout the weekend.

Friday saw arguably the best weather of the weekend for the first day of GJW Direct SailFest - a coaching day run by the North Sail One Design team of Charlie Cumbley and Pete Mitchell. After brief introductions and going through the schedule of the day, Charlie and Pete went round each boat to have a look at rigging aspects whilst getting to know the sailors and what they wanted out of the day. It was decided to spend as much time on the water as the energy of the participants could manage.

Assisted by Max Bradbury-Knight of locally based SWAC (part of the Active Nation charity organisation), the coaches ran a number of starts and short races, challenging the participants by varying the ‘rules’ of the start sequence, working on boat control as well as talking them each through individual sail-setting whilst they were racing.

Rachel Eveling has been sailing a variety of boats for a number of years but has only been sailing her Byte for a year, taking part in the coaching day in preparation for her first nationals. At 10-12kn, she found the conditions challenging but launching as part of the coaching group built her confidence. Speaking to her after her first day of racing on Saturday she was buzzing with the experience of going out in 'really quite hary' conditions. 'I have met lots of lovely people and the coaches have been great, both yesterday in the coaching day and James [Royston] today. He has given some great tips and I am having to un-learn previous conceptions of sail control when applied to the Byte.'

Saturday dawned with a fantastic sunrise across the Solent and a calm sea view from Calshot Activities Centre. As the competitors arrived and registered Glen Wallis from GJW Direct and Chrissy Winchcombe of Garmin were on hand with advice and product demonstrations. Dave Poupard, commodore of Calshot Sailing Club (recently stepped in as organising club for the event) welcomed the competitors, Garmin and GJW Direct to the Centre prior to the distribution of SailRacer’s GPS trackers ready for the day’s racing.

The wind steadily built throughout the morning till the fleet launched for a proposed 1200 first start. A brief delay to allow the wind to settle enabled the 18ft Skiffs to catch up across the narrow shipping channel and join the fleet. The wind from the NW made for some significant shifts and, as discussed with coach James Royston at the morning briefing, tactics were dictated by a combination of windshift and tidal influences.

The 18ft skiffs were the first to start and were taken off on a significantly larger outer loop to run windward-leeward laps, outside the trapezoid course set for the rest of the fleet. The fast handicap fleet was proportionally dominated by the ISO fleet, also using SailFest as their (21st anniversary) National Championships, accompanied by AltOs, Icons and an Osprey, with the faster single handers including a D-One and regular Garmin summer series competitor Tim Keen in his RS300. The slow handicap fleet ranged from Feva to Finn, with the Byte Nationals fleet setting off last.

In the 18ft Skiffs Simon Hiscox and his team Haeir Appliances were closely matched with Tom Kiddle’s Awlgrip, Kiddle taking race 1 and Hiscox race 2. In third and fourth places it was Steve McLean’s Low Energy Design team who had a similar slim edge over Graham Bridle and his team in Sail4Cancer. The wind built steadily during race 2 and some shifty gusts as the boats waited for the third start resulted in a number of capsizes, including at least three skiffs being over at one point. Alex Lewin’s team Gnasher never recovered from damage they incurred and were towed home by one of the boats from the UK Youth Marine Training Academy who were on hand all weekend providing a significant proportion of the safety team. Hiscox took the third race and Graham Bridle came up to take the second.

In the handicap fleet the AltO sailed by Timothy Kift and Jo Wicken traded places with ISO sailors John Gill and Juliet Daniels on the water all day, but the slightly faster handicap rating of the AltO gave John and Juliet the edge overall. The building breeze of race 2 suited Caitlin Tweedle in her Laser 4.7, winning race 2 together with a solid fourth in race 1 and 10th in race 3. Icon sailors Paul and Greg Bartlett mixed it with the bulk of the ISO fleet throughout the day and were rewarded by a 6,4,3 putting them second overall.

Richard and Mark Hartley in their Osprey were certainly blowing the cobwebs away throughout the day, posting a second in race 2 then winning the final race. If not for an OCS in the first race the overall results would no doubt have told a very different story for them. Tim Keen posted a score-line of third, sixth and fifth during the day – much to his frustration mark 3 was his downfall (literally) twice in race 2 when his RS300 was otherwise flying.

In the ISO fleet it was Dave Poupard and Rachel Hughes who took second overall with three points separating the next three boats, Rob Howlett and Berry Newport just clinching third place from Bob Ladell and Jonny Wells.

ISO Champ Gill Daniels - 2014 GJW Direct SailFest

The Bytes set off last in each start sequence but, despite this, local Chris Rees, having led the first lap of the first race, shepherded the first few boats towards the top of the run, rather than the windward mark. It was Rick Whitehouse who capitalised on the error, he and Charlotte Gough then pulling out a clear lead over the rest of the fleet in race 1. With the course clear in their minds it was Louis Saunders who dominated the next two races to end the day with a 3,1,1 score-line.

Whilst the sailors were afloat the shore crew, and a couple of sailors who had decided the conditions were a little fresh for them, took advantage of some of some of the awesome facilities at Calshot Activities Centre. The Allen family had turned up without boats due to a seized wheel-bearing so took full advantage of what was on offer. Archery and Climbing sessions during the day were followed by an equally enjoyable Velodrome session once the sailors came ashore. This gave the opportunity for competitors to try out their nerves on bikes with no brakes, no gears and feet firmly clipped to the pedals. Everyone on the session took the bike well up ‘above the blue’ -the blue line half way up the track.

The thermal effect of the huge Calshot hangar set the Garmin and GJW Direct feather banners fluttering from breakfast time but the wind never materialised on the water. The two Icons took to the water for a little match racing in front of the café-bar patio, a precursor to the Cirrus Raceboats Icon Match Cup to run during 2015.

As seems so often to be the case, as AP over A was hoisted, formerly becalmed yachts across the Solent started to move and a home fleet of dinghies set off from hosts Calshot Sailing Club. Safety leader John Horwell could see that the Bytes in particular were itching to get afloat so, with the agreement of Calshot Activities Centre, a windward-leeward course was set off the Calshot Spit slipway. Hence ensued rapid swapping of boats, with the Devoti D-Zeros helmed by Icon and Iso sailors, a super-lightweight spotted in the D-One, ISO sailors in the Icon and much general helm mixing.

After much discussion the Byte Class decided that they would like two races to count towards their overall Nationals results, although these results would not count towards the overall SailFest Regatta. With a slim lead overnight, and not a fan of light wind, it was reigning Byte champion Louis Saunders who had most to lose but honourably agreed that if that was what the fleet wanted he was happy to go along with it. Rick Whitehouse won both races with Louis runner up in the first and Charlotte Gough runner-up in the second race, which gave Rick the overall championship.

Racing on Saturday - 2014 GJW Direct SailFest

Both the Bytes and ISOs were to take their National Championship results from the scheduled Saturday and Sunday races so their prize giving was held before the very well attended meal on Saturday night. Simon Lovesey of SailRacer crunched the numbers for the other boats that had taken part in the windward leeward racing, unsure of who was in which boat – a bit of a Sunday Shake-Up. With a D-One third, Laser 4.7 second and Finn winning overall it was Jon Tweedle, borrowing his 15 year old son’s borrowed boat, who won a Garmin Viviofit fitness band.

Despite the erroneous decision of the caterers to allow the hungry looking skiff sailors to be first at the food, they continued to top up supplies as they ran out and everyone was well fed. Laser sailor and nutritionist Gareth Edwards gave a thought-provoking talk on nutrition, having joined the sailors for the meal - proving that even sailing-club food has a place in a balanced diet. Whereas Rachel Eveling was saying she has gone away feeling the need to re-evaluate her sailing style, Gareth challenged the preconceptions of a number of the audience to re-evaluate the way they judge their eating patterns. Gareth was still be quizzed on how this could be achieved whilst the caterers cleared the room!

Monday - Finn bites back - 2014 GJW Direct SailFest

The forecast for Monday had consistently been wet and windy since the middle of the previous week. The day dawned as forecast with the exception of the 24-26knots, yet to arrive. The previous evening PRO Peter Knight had discussed with the key fleets that both they and himself had the option to draw a 'red card' if they felt weather conditions were not appropriate for the fleet to race. After various murmurings over breakfast it was Peter that played his card, with visibility not reaching as far as the race course area on the opposite shore and forecast still confident of steadily building breeze.

The abandonment of the Long Distance Pursuit race meant that that the overall results for the SailFest Regatta, final event of the Garmin Summer Series, were decided on the positions of the races successfully run on Saturday. However, following the success of the short course racing run on Sunday, the North Sails One Design Monday Mini-Regatta was quickly instigated and, with the support of the SolentXtra Race team, three short races were planned in the same race area.

Skiff Champ Hiscox - 2014 GJW Direct SailFest

The Skiffs were packed up and ready to go by the time of the Mini-Regatta briefing so their prize-giving, including another Garmin Vivofit for the first placed team of Simon Hiscox, Nick Murray and Pete Perera was made at the briefing and they bade their farewells.

Visibility cleared a little but, although the forecast rain arrived with a vengeance, the wind in the sheltered racing area rarely exceeded a F2. The persistent rain brought no more wind and after two races, by very amicable consensus between competitors, coach, race and safety teams alike, the decision was made to come ashore and call it a day.

Cameron Tweedle - 2014 GJW Direct SailFest

North Sails One Design had generously provided T-shirts, together with a number of vouchers for the final SailFest Race. However, whilst coach Pete Mitchell had been on the water he had left the door of the van ajar, resulting in the distribution of, quite appropriately, wet T-shirts to every competitor for the day. North sails vouchers were presented to the first three placed boats in the Monday Mini-Regatta with Caitlin Tweedle third (somewhat spurned on by the sight of her upturned brother in the first race), Tim Keen second and Cameron Tweedle (despite his capsize) first.

In the Bytes it was Rick Whitehouse showing consistency in both windy and light conditions, together with the confidence to sail the right course in race 1, who took the overall championship and a pile of prizes and trophies including a Garmin Vivofit fitness band. Louis Saunders was second and Charlotte Gough, without a score outside the top three, was first lady and third overall. Rachel Eveling showed she really is getting to grips with the Byte and, after a seventh in race 1, put together a strong series to take fourth place.

1st Richard Whitehouse
2nd Louis Saunders
3rd Charlotte Gough
4th Rachel Eveling

With the ISO Class results were based just on the results of Saturday’s racing with John Gill and Juliet Daniels taking the honours as well as overall winners of GJW Direct SailFest 2014.

1st John Gill and Juliet Daniels
2nd Dave Poupard and Rachel Hughes
3rd Rob Howlett and Berry Newport

The 18ft Skiffs put on a fantastic show on Saturday and thanks goes to the SolentXtra race team for agreeing to incorporate them into the schedule at short notice.

1st Haeir Appliances: Simon Hiscox, Nick Murray and Pete Perera
2nd Low Energy Design: Steve McLean, Tomella Hill and Tom Bruton
3rd Awlgrip: Tom Kiddle, Matt Kiddle and Oscar Mead

Sunday racing, DZero - 2014 GJW Direct SailFest

GJW Direct SailFest Regatta: Despite impromptu racing taking place on both Sunday and Monday, the overall results for the GJW Direct SailFest regatta were based only on the three races on Saturday, with six different classes of boats finishing in the top six positions. Winners John Gill and Juliet Daniels won a Garmin VIRB Elite action camera as well as their Garmin Vivofit as fleet winners.

Glen Wallis of GJW Direct presented the GJW Direct Outstanding Achievement Award. This year it was awarded to young sailors Sienna Adderley and Luke Doble. They were sailing in their first regatta and indeed their first foray beyond the shelter of Southampton Water where they have learnt to sail at Southampton Watersports Activity Centre, part of the Active Nation Charity organisation. They competed in every race throughout the weekend and, rather than swapping class in the Sunday Shake-Up racing they swapped their helming and crewing positions.

Nutrition - 2014 GJW Direct SailFest

Saturday Racing - 2014 GJW Direct SailFest

Fleet action on Sunday - 2014 GJW Direct SailFest
























Timothy KIFT










Tim Keen








Laser 4.7



















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For the generous sponsorship of the event thanks go to GJW Direct, title sponsors, and Garmin, as sponsors of the Garmin Summer Series. Valued coaching, both on and off the water, was provided throughout the event by North Sails One Design on Friday and Monday and James Royston on Saturday and Sunday. The event would not have been possible without safety cover from the vibrant members of the UK Youth Marine Training Academy, Warsash Sailing Club, Max of SWAC, SailRacer and of course the Race team from SolentXtra led by Peter Knight.

Event website