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Catapults during the Bala Gala at Bala Catamaran Club

by Stuart Ede 28 Jul 2011 20:41 BST 23-25 July 2011
Eventual Catapult winner Paul Ellis squeezes in next to the pin during the Bala Gala © Catapult Class Association

Twelve Catapults returned to a Bala Catamaran Club for their "Bala Gala" and TT held over a long weekend, 23-25 July 2011. The event was dominated by the trio of Paul Ellis, Alex Montgomery and Gareth Ede.

Race 1 for the TT was set around a figure-of eight in a light breeze. Ellis was away fast from the start, with Alastair Forrest on his heels and George Evans in contention. However, by the end of Lap 1 Ede had moved to the front of the chasing pack, and he overtook Ellis up the next beat by trapezing in the increasing breeze. Meanwhile Alex Montgomery had worked his way through the fleet after a bad start to catch up with Ede. When Ede sailed into a hole near the last leeward mark Montgomery snatched the win.

Montgomery was first around the windward mark of Race 2 followed by Ellis and Ede, who moved to the front when Montgomery made a mark rounding error. Ellis held off Ede’s challenge up the next beat and increased his lead downwind to take first place with Montgomery coming third behind Ede.

On Day 2 Forrest and George Evans got away at the start of Race 3, but they could not hold their lead as the dominant trio chased them down. Ellis and Montgomery duelled all the way round the rest of the course, while Ede vied with Evans for third place. Ede eventually drew away, but could not catch Ellis and Montgomery who took first and second places, respectively.

The tight contest for the starboard end to start Race 4 saw Ellis forced over before the gun, but he and Montgomery (also starting late) then gained a lift and sped past most of the fleet to windward in the marginal trapezing conditions. George Evans had a good first beat to take the lead and Justin Evans emerged high up in the fleet at the second mark. George held on to his lead for two laps until Ellis and Montgomery overtook to tussle for first place. Montgomery, just ahead as he and Ellis approached the line, tacked a bit too soon and found he could not make the line. Ellis held on before tacking and snatched first place by seconds.

Going into the last day, with the discard yet to come into effect, Ellis had a 2 point lead over Montgomery who in turn led Ede by 3 points. The first attempt at Race 5 had to be abandoned, and the very shifty light airs created an unexpected downwind start for the re-run. George Evans and Forrest started at the extreme leeward end, and while this gave them further to sail to the first mark, the broad reach approach gave them the advantage over the rest of the fleet who were running. However, they could not hold their lead in the shifty beat that followed, and Montgomery, chased by Stuart Ede, built up a large lead only to lose it again at a hole around the last mark, where a scrum developed as the rest of the fleet caught up. Montgomery emerged first and held a narrow lead to the finish, while Gareth Ede broke away upwind to snatch second from Ellis, and Stuart Ede held off Forrest for fourth.

Thus Montgomery had closed the points gap, only to be denied by Ellis on tie-break. Gareth Ede claimed third place just three points behind.

The Bala Gala features fun races as well as the TT. The Thames Terriers (Forrest, Montgomery and John Peperell) won the Relay after the leaders Yorkshire Tykes (Gareth Ede, Justin Evans and Nigel Harrison) admitted to an illegal hand-over. In the Pairs Race team-mates George Evans and Stuart Ede took first and second places, but, because they are a couple of old pros (!), the honours went to the pro-am pairing of Justin Evans and Gareth Ede who took third and fourth places.

Overall Results:

1Paul EllisMarconi SC31113*6
2Alex Montgomery 13*2216
3Gareth EdeFiley SC2234*29
4Alastair Forrest 4467*519
5George EvansBala CC86438*21