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Henri-Lloyd - For the Obsessed

Bala Massacre 2024

by Rob Sloggett 28 Mar 00:22 PDT 24 March 2024

As we watched the weather the week before, there was an underlying tension that "the Massacre" would turnout to be exactly that. Llyn Tegid is an unpredictable character at the best of times and with two independent forecast sites both predicting 10 knots gusting to 25 knots (but slowly levelling off), we were not 100% sure of what to expect.

Tooled up with 3 safety boats on the water, we prepared for the worse and enjoyed the entries slowly building. We closed the entries on Friday night with 20 online and another 2 on the day took us to 22. This 3 hrs pursuit race used a long figure of eight leg at the start to allow the slower boats to stretch their legs and let the faster ones build headway then the Race Control Officer turned it into a shorter figure of eight of repeated laps until the 3hr horn sounded.

As they took to the water, the weather station and on water measurement was showing a steady 10 knots straight up the lake and this year saw Jodie Walker-Graham first away in her Topper to set the pace down to mark (F). Over the next 90 minutes the rest of the fleet joined the hunt with a great mixture of single and double handed boats including two Dart 16's and the final man away being Steve Pooley in his F101 foiling trimaran.

It was great to have at least 5 competitors join us from other clubs with 4 of these appearing in the top 10 positions. It was also encouraging to see an increase of 6 boats over last year's event with a really strong showing from the Bala SC members.

Over the course of the 3 hours, the wind was kind with very little signs of the high range gusts materialising but the safety boats were kept busy with the odd tip and fatigued helms as well as (with it being the first outing of the season) the odd failure of components causing a small handful of retirements.

Out on the water the fleet settled down with about 45 minutes to go and out at the front, it was clear that the battle for the top place was going to be between Jon Heissig and Nicky Griffin from Llangorse SC in their RS400 and Paul and Jude Allen who in the last year had moved over from Nacras to the 59er from Bassenthwaite SC. With 2 minutes to go the safety boat took up position as it was clear that the final minute was going to happen somewhere between the A and 1 marks. Rounding A with about 45 seconds to go, Jon and Nicky looked to have it in the bag but then somehow, after chasing them down Paul and Jude found a little something else and just eased ahead to take the win with what appeared to be less than a few boat lengths.

Following behind them was a Bala SC club battle with Will Hitchman in his D Zero just getting the better of Andy Todd in his RS100 by once again a small margin and James Davies and Tom Moore from Shropshire SC picking up 5th place in their RS200.

In the rest of the fleet, Miles Thomas had a great day in his Solo and after securing 7th place overall, took the honours of the top place Senior (over 60). The conditions did not really favour the Multihulls to get going but Mark Jones and Mick Flemming in their Dart 16 picked up 11th overall and took the honours for the top placed Multihull.

Finally, it's important to acknowledge everyone who took part even if they didn't make it to the finish line and a huge call-out needs to go to Grace (12) and Reuben (10) Allen for taking to the start in their RS Fexa XL and tackling a 3hr pursuit race. Whilst they did not complete the time, to see this new generation of club sailors coming forward is very humbling.

We now look forward to our Easter Regatta and the start of our new club racing season where our new Sailing Captain Steve Pooley has given us a really nice season to look forward to.

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