A small fleet of 3 Skiffs travelled down to Paignton last weekend for their annual pilgrimage to Torbay Week in what was forecast to be a predominantly light wind affair.
One 12fter, Bob & Alan in Salcolmbe Chocolate Academy, just managed to make the pursuit race on Friday evening (with only seconds to spare before their start). With a triangular course, even though it was only blowing 12kts, they opted for their No.2 rig to give them a chance of making the wing mark, but as it turned out, the first reach was too tight for a kite anyway. After 90 minutes of racing, Bob & Alan finished in a very respectable 3rd place, about 20 seconds behind the winning Tasar. A result that they were very pleased with.
The event proper kicked off on Saturday with the crews arriving to be greeted by heavy rain and no wind. After a number of postponments and a binned start (due to waiting for the breeze and then having it shifting through 45 degrees and then back again), the Asymmetric fleet finally got underway in 6-8kts of breeze. Simon Roberts and Neil Cardno showed good pace from the off, leading the fleet around the top mark closely followed by Bob & Alan, and with class newcomers Grant Blake and Andy Kerr in 3rd after suffering a swim due to a broken trapeze wire. A fluffed kite hoist by Simon & Neil however allowed Bob & Alan through to a lead that wasn’t challenged again. Races 2 and 3 took a similar theme, and although Bob & Alan took the gun over the water for the 12fters, a local RS400 snuck round to win both races on handicap.
Sunday was even lighter with big holes and gusts all over the place, proving ever so slightly challenging for the skiff crews on their big No.1 rigs. In the first race, Bob & Alan had it all their own way, with Neil & Simon not making the start, and Grant & Andy struggling to get their boat in the groove. Race 2 saw Grant & Andy starting to put pressure on Bob & Alan, but Bob & Alan managed to keep them behind until the end. Race 3 was complete mayhem, with both Bob & Alan, and Simon & Neil taking swims with their kites up as a big gust come across the course. Grant & Andy however, sailed a flawless race from beginning to end, to take the gun.
Monday dawned with Bob & Alan going into the final day as the leading 12fter, but just 1 point ahead of the RS400 in the Asymmetric fleet overall, and with sunshine and the bay like a sheet of glass it wasn’t looking good for beating the 400. We all rigged with fingers crossed, hoping that we’d either get a decent sea breeze or there’d be nothing and the day would be abandoned, as a light day would surely see the RS400 take the event win overall.
It was not to be. We were sent out into sub-5kts, and in the first race, the 400 disappeared off the line, beating all the skiffs over the water to the first mark. However, at the bottom mark, a broken rudder stock saw the 400’s day come to and end (a great shame for them, but good for Bob & Alan). Both of the day’s races were really hard-fought between Bob & Alan, and Grant & Andy, with the second start looking more like 12ft Skiff match racing, with both boats hunting each other down for the start and then getting no more than 3 or 4 boat lengths apart throughout the entire race. Bob & Alan just got the first race, with Grant & Andy taking the gun on the second race.
The 12ft Skiff class would like to say a really big “thank you” again to everyone at Paignton Sailing Club for making us so welcome and laying-on another superb event for us.
Final 12ft Skiff Results:
1st, Salcombe Chocolate Academy, Bob Clements & Alan Atterbury
2nd, Design Source, Grant Blake & Andy Kerr
3rd, Grumble & Grunt, Simon Robert & Neil Cardno