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Race1 Ker 11.3 2003 Nationals at Royal Torbay Yacht Club

by Philip Crebbin 4 Sep 2003 08:46 BST
Action from the Ker 11.3 Nationals at Torbay © Philip Crebbin

The 2003 National Championships of the exciting Race1 Ker 11.3 class took place in Torbay under the excellent management of the Royal Torbay YC. Prior to the championship 3 boats raced in the Royal Torbay Regatta held in very good conditions with 12 to 20kt breezes from the East. Blowing straight into the bay the wind was quite steady and a good swell developed to aid downwind surfing. In IRC Class 1, two of the 11.3s dominated the racing with John Shepherd’s Fair Do’s V winning overall by a single point from Anthony Richards’ Minnie the Moocher. The other 11.3, Robbie Cameron-Davies’ I-Site, was on charter to Langley Holdings with Tony Langley helming himself and Race 1’s Philip Crebbin assisting as tactician. The Langley Holdings team finished a creditable 5th overall in Class 1, handling the boat very well on only their second time sailing an 11.3, the first time being at CORK in 2002 over a year before.

For the 11.3 Championship, held from August 29th to August 31st, the easterly wind turned more towards the north and so became very shifty and streaky off the land. There was a good breeze of up to 18kts on the first day, but after that it became much more fitful. Four races were held on the first day, but on the second day only two were able to be sailed, one with the wind from the north-east and one with the wind from the west when black clouds changed everything round. After that the wind died almost completely. On the last day there was only the faintest of sea breezes from the east, but the Race Officer, Peter Rumbelow, did well to get two final races in even if it was only in 3 to 4kts of wind.

In addition to the three boats that did the Torbay regatta, Nick Hartshorn’s El Gringo (for the last two days) and Michael Cover’s Blue Belle arrived to compete. It had been hoped that David Pinner’s Cracker would arrive from the east coast, but he was unable to make it. Keith McCullagh’s new Skipjack was also unfortunately unable to make it into the water in time. But still the fun of one-design racing in boats like the 11.3 made it a great event that everybody thoroughly enjoyed.

The first day’s racing was very hard fought with much place changing in the difficult conditions. Having a leeward gate also helped this to happen as it gave more tactical options for chasing boats. Fair Do’s V, with John Greenland helming, found the best route up the right side of the first leg of the first race and managed to lead all the way round, an achievement not repeated during the rest of the day. Minnie the Moocher got past I-Site on the first downwind leg to hold second for most of the race, but I-Site, now taken back over by Robbie Cameron-Davies and his team with Philip Crebbin helming, got by right on the finish line to steal second back when Minnie went for the wrong finish line instead of the gate with the course shortened.

I-Site led the way early on in the second race but lost out to both Minnie and Fair Do’s on the first run. However by the end of the race I-Site had re-established her lead with Fair Do’s second. This repeated itself for the next two races, except that Minnie led early on and then finished second to I-Site each time. Part of I-Site’s success was in several times doing late-called spin gybe sets (gybe setting when the gear is set up for a bearaway set) at the windward spreader mark to stay in better lines of breeze. So I-Site won the overall day prize with 5 points and Minnie won the day’s owner-driver prize with 10 points, lying in third place one point behind Fair Do’s.

The second day unfortunately saw Fair Do’s pull out on the way to the start when the crew discovered a split in their port lower spreader, something that was later believed to have been caused by an accident when the boat was launched before the Fastnet Race and that had finally showed itself, remarkably holding up for many miles of racing including in quite breezy and bouncy conditions. The first race of the second day in lighter conditions saw I-Site in front from start to finish ahead of Minnie with El Gringo third. After a break while the wind completely changed round, I-Site also led the way in the second race. Coming into the windward mark with all the boats close together, I-Site took the opportunity to hold up her main rival, Minnie, and push her to fourth while maintaining first place. Blue Belle got into second place, but made a late change of gate mark at the end of the run and did not do a good rounding. On the second windward leg, I-Site loose covered Minnie while El Gringo, now in second place, split the other way. El Gringo came out just ahead of I-Site at the windward mark and with the wind having shifted right, both boats did spin gybe sets at the spreader mark. I-Site’s practice of this now paid off and she rolled over El Gringo to re-take the lead, which she held to the finish with El Gringo a close second and Minnie third.

The wind then faded again and eventually Peter Rumbelow decided there was no choice but to postpone the final two races of the day with the aim of having at least one of them on the final day in addition to the two races planned. I-Site again won the overall day prize with El Gringo taking the owner-driver prize on last race tie-break over Minnie.

The final day looked to be better for getting a sea-breeze established, but it did not build beyond about 4kts and was often down as low as 2kts and so only two races were held. This proved to be Minnie’s day. She found the right route to lead at the windward mark each time and then sailed fast downwind with her asymmetric VMG spinnaker. El Gringo and I-Site had a good fight behind, with El Gringo coming home second in each race. So I-Site’s five race winning streak came to an end and Minnie won both the overall prize and the owner-driver prize for the day.

I-Site remained well clear overall to win the National Championship, the second time that Robbie Cameron-Davies, the newly elected Chairman of the Race1 Ker 11.3 Class Association, has won it. Anthony Richards, the retiring Chairman, took the Owner-Driver Championship as well as second place overall with Minnie. Fair Do’s V’s good results on the first day were enough to hold third place for John Shepherd on tie-break over El Gringo.

Overall Results: (8 races with 1 discard)

PosBoat NameOwnerHelmPts
1I-SiteRobbie Cameron-DaviesPhilip Crebbin10
2Minnie the MoocherAnthony RichardsAnthony Richards14
3Fair Do’s VJohn ShepherdJohn Greenland27
4El GringoNick HartshornNick Hartshorn27
5Blue BelleMichael CoverMichael Cover28