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Whitstable Harbour Gin B14 TT at Whitstable Yacht Club

by Mark Barnes 4 Oct 2023 01:12 PDT 30 September - 1 October 2023
Whitstable Harbour Gin B14 TT at Whitstable © Jo Wyles

After a summer of either constant strong NE'ly winds and short steep chop or no wind, how would this one play out. Could the gods be aligned and we be lucky to get in some great sailing over the weekend in warmth and sunshine? Having seen Predictwind, one was hopeful.

Sharing the event with the Dart 18s and their end of year event, it was guaranteed to be a great social if the wind failed. Complimented by event sponsors Whitstable Harbour Gin.

Saturday dawned, the sea was like glass and not a breath on the water. R/O Tom Bruton on reviewing the situation with the class reps, went to AP with no time limit (When flag D is raised the fleet have 45 minutes to get to the start). So competitors relaxed to a light lunch waiting for a sign of movement. Out of nowhere some breeze came around Borstal Hill and bounced across the water which was otherwise glass. Then, within 20 minutes, AP came down, the SW'ly filled in to 5-6 knots and D went up. Both fleets launched into the spring ebb and headed to sea only one hour behind schedule.

All B14 starts starting second, would be under the black flag. The D18s first start would be blue peter then black if recalled. Both fleets would do two laps with target time 45 minutes.

Race 1, following 6 minutes behind the D18s, the fleet got away first time. It was a choice of pressure or wind bend and avoiding the wind shadow coming downwind. Seavolution North Sails (Mark Barnes/Jack Kilburn) led the charge to the inshore left only to be sailed round further inshore and offshore. Clearly the inside middle was not the place to be. So Leaky Pipes (Gerry & Leaky Fermor) took up the charge and led over the first lap chased by Brightmile (Kathy Sherratt/Mark Watts) and the pack. Over the second lap, it was a case of who got the pressure and shifts right heading into the full ebb. With a bit of cunning, Seavolution North Sails pulled through to pass Leaky Pipes who in turn was followed home by Brightmile.

Race 2 and more of the same, but this time Leaky Pipes did a horizon job offshore tacking off the committee boat end to the lay- line. Never to be seen again, even though they were slowly being hauled in. Second from a closely contested bunch was Seavolution North Sails followed by Seavolution 2 (Amir Shamsuddin/Nick Pye).

Race 3 and a pattern was emerging, though the course was littered with snakes if not watching the pressure lines. In this race Brightmile, pushed the turbo and played their joker, being one of the lighter teams, set the pace early on followed by Marlow (Gary Stuart/Maria Franco (new to the B14)). However, a right old ding dong ensued as place changes occurred on the final run in to the windward mark. Somehow Seavolution North Sails got their nose in front and from there held the lead to the finish followed by Brightmile and Leaky Pipes.

Back ashore, after some quick turnarounds, only 1645 when hitting the beach, and it was party night. What could possibly go wrong. Fish and Chips organised for 1830. The evening started as it meant to go on and the party got better and better with the icing on the cake being the Dead Pelicans, a 7 piece band made up of club members, and boy were they good. The club was vibrant and many were up dancing on the veranda inside the marque till 2330.

The following morning and 8 - 12 knots from the SW on a flood tide.

With the 1100 start, a few sore heads were seen having bacon butties and coffee prior to launching. All agreed it had been a stonkingly great night. One we'll remember for a while.

So, the fleets launched on time. With the tide setting the fleets across the line, key would be judging the run in exactly to avoid the dreaded DSQ.

Race 4 and the fleet got away cleanly. With place changes up the first beat, it was anything but simple. Leaky Pipes led, was it to be another hare race. Slowly Seavolution North Sails hauled them in and rolled over the leaders on the gybe for the finish to take the win with Brightmile third.

Race 5 was led from start to finish by Seavolution North Sails chased by the scrapping Brightmile and Leaky Pipes.

Race 6, Brightmile and Leaky Pipes had an opportunity to beat the other overall as Seavolution North Sails had already won. Out of the blocks, Brightmile first looked good, but then Leaky Pipes did their usual Genie out of the lamp emergence for a short time getting the better of Brightmile, whilst Seavolution North Sails shadow boxed the pair taking the lead at the windward mark only to promptly lose it to Brightmile and then regain it after the first hoist. From then on Seavolution North Sails, stayed between the marks and fleet, watching Brightmile giving chase, whilst being hounded by Leaky Pipes all the way to the finish.

Seavolution North Sails were in first with one point separating Brightmile and Leaky Pipes with the latter taking second. Racing was tight and everyone enjoyed a great two days. The fleet welcomed GBR 766 Wayne Hancox/Claire Geoghegan to their first event showing some good pace out of the box.

The fleet would like to thank R/O Tom Bruton and his team for their fast turnarounds and Glenn Cook for the organisation ashore.

A thank you goes out to Whitstable Harbour Gin who kindly provided the prizes for both fleets.

The B14s next TT is the Final Fling in Plymouth on the weekend of the 14th of October. If this weekend is anything to go by, the racing will be close and hopefully the social will come close to this weekends event. Will the B14s regain the bragging rights for taking the event overall as in 2021. For sure they will give it a damn good try if conditions allow. See you there.

Overall Results:

1. GBR 799 Seavolution North Sails (Mark Barnes, Jack Kilburn) - 7 = 5pts
2. GBR 786 Leaky Pipes (Gerry Fermor, Chris Fermor) - 14 = 11pts
3. GBR 797 Brightmile (Kathy Sherratt, Mark Watts) - 16 = 12pts
4. GBR 795 Seavolution 2 (Amir Shamsudding, Nick Pye) - 26 = 20pts
5. GBR 769 Marlow (Gary Stuart, Maria Franco) - 32 = 26pts
6. GBR 766 (Wayne Hancox, Claire Geoghegan) - 34 = 27pts
7. GBR 757 (Alistair Moppett, Rory Moppett) - 42 = 34pts

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