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Byte Inland Championship at Cardiff Yacht Club

by John Saunders 17 Jun 2015 07:27 PDT 13-14 June 2015
Byte Inland Championship 2015 © John Saunders

It had been hoped that the turnout for the Byte Inland Championships at Cardiff Yacht Club would be better than previous years, after all Hartley, the new manufacturer of the Byte C2 dinghy have sold plenty of boats and there is enthusiasm in the class however only six boats turned up three of them being from Combs Sailing Club in Derbyshire who are now the leading club in the class. Perhaps the miserable forecast of rain and weak wind discouraged visitors but never the less it was disappointing.

Not withstanding this the small fleet was of high quality so that racing would be competitive and interesting. Louis Saunders was present, already with four inland championships under his belt, Eddie Pope a long time successful Byte and Comet sailor who is a known demon in light winds, Ryan Bush who at fourteen has already experienced considerable success in Optimist and Byte. Andrew Sant now in his second season and improving constantly, Cathy Bartram sailing out of Chew and a leading lady sailor in the class and lastly Alexandria Bowden from Combs who is in her first Byte season but has conquered the boat well.

So the stage was set for some exciting small fleet racing as the Bytes started five minutes behind the Regatta fleet. Ryan and Louis quickly pulled away fighting a close duel of tacking, gybing and athletics. Ryan seemed quicker down wind but Louis had the better upwind speed and won by a narrow margin. Eddie followed up with Cathy, Alex and Andy in pursuit.

Race two was sailed in slightly better wind and the leading Bytes soon caught the back of the regatta fleet which caused some confusion. Eddie proved to be the fast boat now and built a lead over Louis and Ryan but Louis managed to catch Eddie and pass him on the final mark but was unaware that the race had been shortened and sailed to the wrong end of the line giving the win to Eddie with Ryan coming in third.

After lunch race three began where the fluky conditions caught Louis out pushing him back down the field allowing Eddie and Ryan to speed away. At the line Ryan was putting Eddie under considerable pressure so much so that in an attempt to squeeze through Eddie hit the mark, realising what he had done he sailed round and re crossed allowing Ryan to slip through for a deserved win.

In race four Eddie was away and proved hard to catch using all his skill and experience to stay in front. Louis finished second with Ryan in third. Next came Cathy, Andy and Alex.

At the beginning of day two scores for the top three were very close and to Louis dismay the wind was even lighter.

Race five proved successful for Ryan who chose the right side of the beat and made the windward mark before Louis who then followed him away but although closing was unable to match Ryan's downwind speed under the light conditions. Ryan crossed first followed by Louis and Eddie.

Race six saw Ryan lead from the line but Louis passed him back upwind and increase his lead from Ryan and Eddie.

Race seven was confused on the line as a wind shift pushed Eddie, Louis Andy and Ryan down onto the pin with nowhere to go, boats touched boats and someone touched the mark, Alex shouted that she would protest them all, so, chastened, turns were completed! Eventually they crossed the line led by Ryan who looked to have an unassailable lead but on the final mark and beat to the line Louis drew on his skill and experience to pass Ryan and after a short but intense tacking battle Louis was over first....but...the race was not over to the surprise of both competitors and they sailed another lap. Louis realised this first and established a clear lead to win...again!

Now it was race eight the final race and the wind had faded to almost nothing. The Bytes sailed into the regatta fleet and they flopped round the marks together. Louis found himself fighting for a mark with a forty foot cruiser who was not even racing. Harsh words were exchanged and the cruiser peeled off. Eddie sailed to the win with Louis second and Andy pleased with a third place.

So, at the end of a frustrating but enjoyable weekend Louis Saunders took the Championship for the fifth time now equalling his friend and clubmate Rick Whitehouse's record. Ryan Bush showed considerable skill and enthusiasm to chase Louis so closely, we need more young sailors like him in the class. Eddie Pope with many years of experience and an odd sailing style was a weapon in the light and dodgy. Andrew Sant was pleased to beat Louis in race three and Ryan in race eight. Alexandria Bowden enjoyed it all leading Ryan at one point and beating Andrew in race one. She also took the Ladies Trophy, Cathy Bartram unhappy with the conditions having not raced on Sunday. However Alex did lose the will to live in race eight!

Next is the Nationals at Weston on July 18-19. We hope for a better turnout but are sure that racing will be just as close and challenging as last weekend.

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