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B14 Europeans at Centre Nautique De Plerin - Days 3 & 4

by Mark Watts 29 Aug 2012 18:37 BST 23-27 August 2012

"You couldn't have made it up"

Day 3

Race 2

The fleet set off in into a fluky force 1-2. "Team Ullman Sails" (Mark Watts/Kathy Sherratt) found a magic path into the building breeze coming down the course and took a significant lead round the top mark. "Leaky Pipes" (Leaky and Gerry Fermor) led the rest of the fleet from "FRA 773" (Alain and Francois Cadre). The next lap saw "Leaky Pipes" put on a charge whilst "Ullman Sails" took on the dangerous game of trying to cover the fleet in increasingly patchy conditions. The finish saw "Ullman Sails" take the win from "Leaky Pipes" after a nervy final run. FRA 773 taking 3rd.

Race 3

"Team Ullman Sails" again found a magic path through the holes to lead round the top mark from "FRA 777" (Sebastien and Sophie LeCam) closely chased by a pack of 5 boats. Sadly a wrap in the kite during the hoist saw "FRA 777" drop back through the fleet.

The final run saw "Team Ullman Sails" lead comfortably to the finish but behind the pack split with some taking a hotter angle to stay in the pressure whilst others took the slower direct route to the mark. At the finish over the shouts from the converging pack and the flash of the photo finish cameras "Team NeilPryde" (Mark Emmett/Allan Stuart) took second from "Team Marlow" (Dan Cowin/Ollie Needham).

Race 4

After a number of rapid course resets by the PRO and his team and one aborted start the sea breeze finally clicked in to provide a solid force 2-3. The fleet got away cleanly with mixed views on the favoured side. At the top mark "FRA 773" led the fleet round and were never challenged. The downwind legs were to prove key with numerous place changes as the fleet sought out the best pressure lanes. The best of the bunch were a resurgent "GBR 785" (Peter Knight/Tom Redgrave) from a consistent "Team NeilPryde" 3rd and "Team Ullman Sails" recovering on the downwind legs to take 4th right on their heals.

Race 5

With the wind dropping slightly "FRA 773" took the right with "Team NeilPryde" and "Seavolution", "Team Ullman Sails" and "Leaky Pipes" heading out the left. At the top mark all 5 converged with FRA 773 leading round and sailing off to an unchallenged win with superb downwind speed, (throwing the technique book out of window and sailing hot and fast angles to great effect) "Leaky Pipes" held 2nd until the final downwind where team Ullman Sails overhauled them before the finish to take 2nd, "Leaky Pipes" 3rd.

Overnight "FRA773" (Alain and Francois Cadre) lead by 2 points from Team Ullman Sails (Mark Watts/Kathy Sherratt), Team NeilPryde (Mark Emmett/Allan Stuart) in 3rd. With the forecast for 3 or 4 races in a building breeze it was all set to be a close battle between these 3 for the title after a night of more great hospitality from the team at the Centre Nautique de Plerin.

Day 4

Race 6

The fleet got away in a force 3-4 with the fleet hitting the left hand corner hard. With the breeze building it was time for some of the expected favourites to make their presence known. At the top mark a close pack of 5 boats led round including title contenders "FRA 773" and "Team NeilPryde". Throughout the rest of the race the pack changed places with Leaky Pipes pulling through to lead and take the bullet. "Seavolution" (Mark Barnes/Charlie Game) finally shook off the weekend's sea monsters to take 2nd. 3rd was a photo finish with "Team NeilPryde" just getting the nod from "FRA 773". "Team Ullman Sails" recovering from a poor first beat to claim 6th on the line.

Race 7

With the breeze now building to a gusty offshore 4-5 the fleet charged out the left led by "GBR 785". A few boats including "Team Ullman Sails" chose to play the middle. At the top mark the fleet rounded behind "GBR785" on mass. With the fleet following like sheep out to the right downwind "Team Ullman Sails" broke left to pick up pressure and charge through to first in champagne downwind conditions. "Team Neilpryde" led the pack round in second.

"Team Ullman Sails" led out the left but as the wind grew increasingly shifty and patchy a number of boats played the right to break through. "FRA 773", "Team NeilPryde" and "GBR785" leading round the top mark as a tight pack from "Ullman Sails".

Once again "Team Ullman Sails" broke left downwind whilst the lead trio hit the right. Nailing the layline through the finish and finding more pressure Team Ullman sails charged in from the left to take the bullet from "GBR785" from "FRA 773" and "Team NeilPryde" 4th.

Race 8

With the breeze continuing to build the fleet were now splitting up the beat with no one route proving consistent. The right won out with "Team Saga" leading round from a close nose to stern pack including "Team NeilPryde", "Seavolution","FRA773" and "Ullman Sails".

The fleet now learning from the previous race all gybed left. Team Ullman Sails once again spotted the pressure lanes to gybe back to the right early and take a good lead at the bottom mark from the pack.

Leading out right team "Ullman Sails" tacked back to cover the fleet but halfway up the beat disaster struck as their primary kicker block self-destructed ending their race and their championship hopes. However the fun for the rest of the fleet was just about to begin as the wind continued to build!!!

With the wind gusting over 30 knots "Team Saga" capsized tacking for the final windward mark and injured crew forced their retirement. The bear away proved interesting with "Team NeilPryde" leading the charge, several boats swimming as the brutal gusts took their toll including "FRA773". As the breeze continued to increase "Team NeilPryde" were unfortunate to lose their rig over the front only for "GBR785" to follow suit whilst pushing hard to hold the layline for the bullet. The win eventually going to Seavolution with Team Marlow showing some crazy 2 sail gybes to take a deserved 2nd from GBR 784 (Alan Davis/Toby Barsley-Dale) 3rd. FRA 773 eventually unwrapping themselves from an underwater mating ritual with LeakyPipes to finish down the order.

The calculators came out as the fleet hobbled back to the beach, the 4th race abandoned. The fancied French team of Alain and Francois Cadre (FRA773) had done enough to take the title from Mark Watts and Kathy Sherratt (Team Ullman Sails) by a point. The consistent team of Mark Emmett and Allan Stuart (Team NeilPryde) taking a well-deserved 3rd.

The fleet owes a huge thanks to the Centre Nautique de Plerin for some of the greatest hospitality we have ever seen and for Sebastien and Sophie LeCam in their efforts to set this up on behalf of the French fleet. The PRO and his team were faultless despite the challenging conditions with first class race management. The event once again proved the B14 fair play approach with only a single protest in the entire event, and even that only for redress on an OCS decision.

With teams ranging from 22 to 25 stone in the top 5, and ladies in 2nd and 4th the class has never been more open and looks forward to continue to build the French fleet who have made amazing progress over the last 2 years to be confirmed as home of the 2012 European Champions and some very competitive B14 teams.

We will be back for sure to what has to be one of the best kept sailing secrets in Brittany!

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