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UKLA Noble Marine ILCA7 Autumn Qualifier at Weymouth & Portland Sailing Academy

by Ben Flower and Mark Lyttle 21 Oct 2020 09:28 PDT 17-18 October 2020

It was a rather cold affair with the first and only autumn qualifier getting under way at WPNSA. The racing was once again in the harbour and on the Saturday there was 10-12 knots of breeze coming from the East.

The first day's racing was dominated by the four British Sailing Team sailors who were recently back from the Europeans in Poland locking out the top four positions in each of the Saturdays races. A tricky days racing with upwind speed so similar there were big gains to be made on the downwind legs. Lorenzo Chiavarini led at the end of Saturday with four points with Sam Whaley in second with 8 points and Beckett and Whiteley tied on 9 points.

The Sunday was a light and pressure driven day, Jake Farren-Price won the first race fending off Lorenzo on the final downwind leg. Under 19 sailor Drew Barnes took a well-deserved third place with an intense battle behind with the Standard fleet coming up to lap the 4.7 fleet at the bottom gate. Race 5 saw Sam Whaley lead from the first mark extending his lead on the second beat with a tight battle for second, Jake Farren-Price squeezed in front of the chasing pair of Drew Barnes and Ben Flower.

The final race of the day saw Beckett back at the front with two difficult races prior for himself taking the final race win of the weekend cementing his place on the podium in front of Dan Whiteley. Jake Farren-Price came home in fourth, winning the day and elevating himself up to fifth overall, with Drew Barnes comfortably taking the U19 and U21 titles in sixth overall. Consistency was the big factor this weekend with the top two (Lorenzo 1st and Whaley second) only having on result each not in the top three.

History was also made this weekend when the ILCA7s started every race first time - no general recalls whatsoever! Paul Jackson and his team were heard to complement the fleet on its good behaviour. Of course it goes without saying that the fleet also thanks Paul and his team for putting on six excellent races.

Several Masters raced the Weymouth Qualifier with recently returned European Senior championship podium sailors Lorenzo CHIAVARINI and Michael BECKETT along two other team members Sam WHALEY and Dan WHITELY. What a treat it was for the Masters to sail against two of the top sailors in the world in an Olympic event, nine months before the Olympics! I don't think it really happens in other sports. It is a real credit for those four to turn up and race given the Europeans was only last week and I am sure it was hard for them to be motivated.

For once we didn't have three 20 knots races in Weymouth which can be a bit brutal for Masters but 10 to 15 knots on Saturday and a fairly steady 6 to 8 knots on Sunday so it was great chance to assess our performance in moderate conditions. With only 25 boats it was quite straightforward to get a lane off the middle of the line.

I felt my upwind speed in full power conditions was fine - it took Lorenzo two or three minutes to roll me on one of those which I was happy with! In the lighter winds I got stuffed on two of the starts and found myself a little slower than some of the juniors who were typically occupying places between five and ten, probably as they were 10 kg lighter.

The smaller fleet meant it is possible to find clear wind and take the shifts you wanted to, probably unlike a 50 boat fleet. I found myself competitive when I got the shifts right (third and fifth at first mark in two races and a recovery to fifth in another) but towards the back when I didn't (18th in Race 5).

Downwind was a lot harder. First race summed that up. Good start and speed with shifts up middle left and fifth at first mark. On the first close reach, one of the boats just behind starting sailing high rather than "tucking in" and get distance on the followers but it turns out to be Lorenzo in the "passing lane", much quicker than me (I was secretly delighted to be so close!!). Several others went past on the run, dropping me to tenth by the end of the leg.

In the light airs, it was worse, dropping from third to thirteenth in the first race. Tony Woods sailed very well in the last two races with good speed upwind and making good decisions. The top five were way quicker downwind than everyone else, sailing like the pros they are with time on the water making their movement fluent and working the boats much harder in response to gusts, lulls and changing wave patterns.

Overall, some great highs when things went well but mistakes were brutally punished to give lots of low points. Of course, the top sailors are consistently fast and making few mistakes, but it is great to race alongside them even if only fleetingly. It is also worth saying that most of the top sailors are welcoming. It may come from the culture set by GBR Laser team where they all work together in an inclusive way, allowing them to load the podium 1,2,3 at the Europeans.

Many thanks also to the event sponsors:

Noble Marine - Ian MacManus (the man behind the name) has crafted a very competitive and excellent insurance product for all Laser/ILCA sailors. A very personal service and a extremely useful website help make this the 'go to' company.

Sailingfast - Duncan brings his battle bus down from Scotland for most the big events, which is so ridiculously well equipped, you could replace everything on your boat. Although based in Scotland they will get anything to you super fast. He also supplied many of the prizes.

Weymouth & Portland Sailing Academy - The home of the British Sailing Team and one of the best racing venues in the country if not the world the WPNSA offers first class facilities with either harbour or open water racing and hosting the sailing for the 2012 Olympics.

New podcast:

UKLA presents 'An Hour with Flower' - Ben Flower has been moving up the fleet steadily in recent years and has experienced many of the high and lows of Laser/ILCA racing. In what is to become a regular feature Ben chats to some of the sailors and volunteers from the Laser/ILCA community. Listen to episode 1 at laser.org.uk/media (Coming soon: episode 2. Ben Flower talks to Sam Whaley)

Overall Results:

1st U21 and U19 - Drew Barnes
1st U17 - Kai Wolgram
1st Master - Mark Lyttle

PosNatSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1GBR216159Lorenzo CHIAVARINIRNCYC2112‑528
2GBR216656Sam WHALEYSwanage Sailing Club323(UFD)1312
3GBR210139Michael BECKETTSOLVA432‑117117
4GBR214Dan WHITELYPort Dinorwic1444‑6619
5GBR208375Jake FARREN‑PRICEChew Valley Lake Sc‑88612421
6GBR201481Drew BARNESChristchurch SC79‑1133527
7CAN212109Ben FLOWERTobermory YC511554(UFD)30
8GBR215303Nicholas WELBOURNHykeham SC13‑151068744
9GBR212907James FOSTERWPNSA91078‑121246
10GBR215401Charlie SOUTHStokes Bay SC / Emsworth SC‑16139711949
11GBR215842Kai WOLGRAMLlyn Brenig67‑1713131352
12GBR217871Mark LYTTLEQueen Mary1051312‑181454
13GBR214610Tony WOODSQmsc / Sbsc15‑161214101061
14GBR215390Thomas BRINDLEYRedesmere21(DNS)14991164
15GBR17361Joe WOODLEYBurghfield12615‑19161665
16GBR215381Dan MCGAUGHEYBallyholme YC1112815‑242066
17GBR213590George GRAHAMBurwain SC1414161014‑1768
18GBR215244Thomas PARKHURSTBeaversc / Stokes Bay1721‑241617879
19GBR216500Peter SHERWINChew Valley Lake18181818‑191587
20IRL211133Adam FERMORStokes Bay SC221719(UFD)151891
21GBR217429Guy NOBLEQueen Mary SC2023211722(UFD)103
22GBR211324Rhys JONESCardiff YC2320202020(UFD)103
23GBR199009James BLAKEGreat Moor SC‑242222212119105
24GBR7528Christopher ELLYATTQMSC191923(DNC)DNCDNC113
25GBR188783Nick STOTENMBSC‑252425222321115

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