Four doubled handed and nine single handed teams from USA, Holland, Belgium, Thailand and UK arrived at Mumbles Yacht Club on 8th August for a four day, twelve race Championships.
Unfortunately, the first two days of racing were postponed. Even the relatively calm conditions of Swansea Bay were deemed unsuitable for safe racing with gusts in excess of 30 knots being recorded combined with a boat breaking sea state. On Sunday Competitors were invited out on the Clubs safety boats to see for themselves what the conditions were like in the middle of the Bay and those that participated in this offer were unanimous in thinking that the correct decision had been made by the PRO John Shapton.
On Monday 11th August the wind had abated enough for five shortened races to take place. During the first of which the sea state which started out to be ‘tricky’ settled down and the whole package of wind and sea proved to be an excellent test of seamanship and endurance. In fact by the last race the Bay was producing near perfect Catamaran conditions if not for the slightly gusty conditions which peaked around 18 knots.
Throughout the day the fleet was diminishing due to tiredness and the occasional breakage. This was also the case for Chris Sproat and Rosanna Jury who were hotly tipped to win despite it being their first time sailing a F16. All those that continued to race were really enjoying the competitiveness of the racing and especially amongst the top half of the fleet where John Pierce, Gueert Ruesink his crew Joanna Lienti and Hans Klok all took bullets. John Alani also deserves a special mention as being one of the only teams who didn’t capsize during the racing and this put him in third place overnight with Geert/Joanna and John P in second and first places.
Early Tuesday morning the conditions were such that the competitors weren’t that enthusiastic to rig but by 09.30hrs the sun was out, the wind had dropped to 12-14 knots and the Bay looked very inviting. The first of four races was started and instantly Paul Warren and Anne Powter were laying down the gauntlet leading the fleet to the first mark, this was a bitter sweet pill after a frustrating previous night procuring and fixing a replacement rear beam. Although, by the end of the race it was Geert/Joanna’s consistent upwind and downwind speed that gave them another bullet with Paul/Anne in second followed by Gill de Bryne and Kathleen Vandenbulle in third.
Prior to race seven the current holder of the F16 Global Challenge Trophy had to retire from the competition in order to make his ferry crossing back to Holland. The race started with the fleet splitting into three groups, left side, middle and right side. However, neither favoured the other and they all met at roughly the same time at the windward mark. During the course of the race there were six differing leaders but at the end Geert/Joanna took the bullet. Gill/Kathleen second and John P was third followed by Paul/Anne.
Race eight and Mark Pressdee completed a clean Port tack flier crossing the whole fleet. However, the race will be remembered for the ensuing thunder, rain and extremely heavy hail shower which engulfed the fleet on the fourth lap. At it’s peak the visibility was down to 10 meters and it was if the safety car had come out onto a Grand Prix circuit as all the competitors were just happy to reduce speed and look out for one another. The after mouth of the squall was much needed bright warm sunshine. Again Geert/Joanna took first place followed by John P, Gill/Kathleen.
Proceeding the final race you could sense both John P and Geert/Joanna were carefully doing mathematical permutations in their minds to forecast what they had to achieve in order to win the Global Challenge Trophy. To no ones surprise the racing was really close. However, Nick Moore who lead the fleet for the first part of the race lost some ground on a run where there were big gains to be had if you caught the right gust. John P and Geert/Joanna exchanged places on several occasions during this race but eventually John P took line honours, Gill/Kathleen were second Geert/Joanna finished third.
Prior to the prize giving neither team were 100% sure of the outcome, nine races had been sailed and two discards could now count. In the end only one point separated them and John Pierce was the Victor with 11 points and all the competitors received various goodies from the competitions sponsors which included CoolFlow specialist coolants, South Wales Marine, Sailwave sailing scoring software and MP Multihulls.
1st John Pierce GBR 11pts
2nd Geert Ruesink NED & Joanna Lienti USA 12pts
3rd Gill de Bryne & Kathleen Vandenbulle BEL 20pts
4th John Terry GBR 39pts
5th Mark Pressdee GBR 42pts
6th Nick Moore THI 45pts
7th John Alani GBR 45pts
8th Hans Klok NED 52pts
9th Paul Warren & Anne Powter GBR 56pts
10th Paul Alani GBR 64pts