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First 31.7 regatta at Royal Lymington Yacht Club

by Ross Bateson 14 Jun 2004 21:37 BST 12-13 June 2004

‘Beating up the Bay’ First 31.7 regatta: Starspray wins in final race

The First 31.7 racing fleet is growing rapidly, with 20+ boats competing in Spi Ouest this year, and another large turnout expected in Cork Week. The Royal Lymington Yacht Club "Beating up the Bay" Regatta held on 12th and 13th June gave the opportunity for the Solent fleet to pit their wits against each other for the first time in a separate class. Racing was close, with places constantly changing and seconds separating many results. Going into the final race the top three boats were on level points, but it was the Bateson family on Starspray who finally emerged the winner.

Three windward leewards courses were raced each day. With experience varying from the seasoned campaigners of Tai-Pan, to the new crew on Chied, who had only spent a few months on the boat, the fleet was more spread out in the early racing in Christchurch Bay. However, the back of the fleet went up a steep learning curve, and the racing on the Sunday was increasingly tight.

David Jobson’s Tai-Pan set the early pace. Having traded the lead with Peter Bateson’s Starspray throughout the first race, Tai-Pan took advantage of a wipeout by Starspray in the blustery conditions to sail through and take the first bullet. Tai-Pan also made better work of 60 degree windshifts in the next race to take a second win ahead of Stephen Parry’s Kurketrekker. In race three Kurketrekker's bright pink and blue spinnaker marked the front of the fleet for much of the race. Tai-Pan finished third on the water, but was bumped up to second after Kurketrekker successfully protested Starspray for a mark rounding incident.

Sunday morning conditions were perfect for sunbathing, but of little use for sailing and crews had the chance to sleep off their headaches from too much hospitality at the Royal Lymington the previous evening in an hour-long delay before a sea breeze kicked in. The first race got under way in 8-10kts, with the whole fleet starting well and a lot of places exchanged on the first beat. Tai-Pan was first to the windward mark in front of Kurketrekker, but it was her turn to be overtaken as Starspray found the best wind on the left side of the run to take a lead she held, finishing in front of Kurketrekker with Tai-Pan third. Starspray’s upwind speed proved crucial in the next race, to take her second win ahead of Kurketrekker with Tai-Pan in third.

Further down the fleet, Race 4 saw Cool Penguin and Whistler only 18 seconds apart whilst Race 5 had Baby Blue, Whistler and Puckoon in 5th to 7th places separated by 35 seconds.

The results meant that, after the one discard, the top three boats were equal on points going into the final race. To finish the series, the race committee set a course with one windward / leeward lap, before going off to North Head buoy and running through Hurst narrows, finishing after a short beat off the Lymington River.

In 14-18kts, Starspray managed to stay in control under No1 genoa to take a 30 second lead at the windward mark, with Cool Penguin, Kurketrekker and Tai-Pan neck and neck behind. After a broad reach down to North Head, Starspray still led ahead of Tai-Pan, with Kurketrekker opting not to risk their 0.5oz spinnaker for the marginal reach up to Hurst. Starspray and Tai-Pan both carried kites up to Hurst, the proximity between the two meaning that a single broach would have decided both race and series. Both held on, and Starspray held a minute's lead at the leeward mark, eventually winning her third consecutive race by 47 seconds on corrected time, and the series by a point.

With sponsorship from Ancasta and UK Sails, prizes were plentiful. Whistler and Baby Blue received ‘neither here nor there’ cases of beer for finishing mid-fleet on each of the days, while Chied won the ‘Spirit of Adventure Trophy’.

The fleet now moves onto the Beneteau Cup on July 16-18, which will have a separate 31.7 division for the first time for this expanding fleet.

Overall Results:

1st Starspray Quantum Sails 8
2nd Tai-Pan Sobstad Sails 9
3rd Kurketrekker Banks Sails 10

David Jobson has taken on running the 31.7 section of the Beneteau Owners' Association and it was thanks to him that the class was included in the regatta. He hopes next year's event will attract more 31.7s to the superb racing area in Christchurch Bay.

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