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B14 Europeans & Pre Worlds at Plerin, France - Overall

by Mark Watts 15 Jul 2013 08:59 BST 10-19 July 2013

Day 2 dawned with a reduced swell and 13-16 knot breeze and more wall to wall sunshine. Much to the relief of the fleet launching was trouble free and many sailed off to enjoy the waves, clear water and breeze. Sadly a few enjoyed it too much and led to a number of boats missing the start sequence and arriving late for race 3.

GBR 758 Tim Harrison/Jonny Ratcliffe were hot out of the blocks and sailed off to the horizon, ultimately leading the fleet round for a third lap on a two lap course and throwing the result in the bin. GBR 774 Ben/Roz McGrane were first to spot the mistake and sail to take the win. Behind indecision persisted with some boats going for a third lap, whilst others went for the finish including eventually the leaders who hoisted kites to return.

GBR 774 took first, AUS 782 Guy Bancroft/Lachlan Imeneo taking second after a swift reverse from also heading for a third lap. AUS 375 Andre Webster/Graham Allen taking third Race 4 and with solid twin hiking conditions the lead boats took the pin eventually converging at the windward mark in a tight bunch with GBR 791, Team Ullman Sails, leading round. The runs saw some significant shifts and holes that mixed up the front order with GBR 758 ultimately coming out on top. GBR 774 took second to continue their charge for the European title from the ever consistent AUS 782 third.

Day 3 dawned with flattish water and light winds.

Race 5

With the usual suspects leading out of the blocks despite dolphins distracting some teams off the start it was the feared light wind speed of AUS 780 Richie Reynolds/Lisa McMillan that tore through the fleet to take the bullet from AUS 782 second and GBR 758 third. GBR 774 took 5th to stay in the lead for the Europeans as their nearest challengers struggled for consistency.

Race 6

Another port biased line saw the fleet bunching towards the pin. The leaders coming out from the left on the first beat after a significant left hand shift. GBR 758 again did a horizon job on the fleet with GBR788 Mark Barnes/Jeremy Williamson finding form to take a solid second, holding off the advances of AUS 782 who took third. I would tell you more but I spent most of the race trying to dig myself back from going hard right up the first beat so didn't witness much of the action.

AUS 782 "One more for the Bone" Guy Bancroft and Lachlan Imeneo were ultimately clear winners of the pre-worlds with a consistent score line across the conditions.

Second overall, and new European Champions, were GBR 774 "Doris" Ben/Roz McGrane taking the title after a recent return to the fleet and showing good speed in all conditions. GBR 758 "Not Enough Screws" Tim Harrison/Jonny Ratcliffe did enough to climb to second on the final day on count back from GBR 791 "Team Ullman Sails" Mark Watts/Chris Bishop third.

The prize giving saw our hosts at the Centre Nautique de Plerin lay on a fabulous hog roast and prize giving with full podium, flags and national anthems. The Magnum of champagne proving the highlight as Ben McGrane spectacularly failed to first open it, breaking the cork, then breaking a cork screw and ultimately calling in extra help with molegrips! This started an evening of fleet fun that ultimately ended with a masterclass in beer scooter navigation by our new European champion to disappear at 3am, navigate his way through 7km of dark maze-like French roads and appear back at his campervan in time for breakfast!

Tomorrow sees the Worlds start and with some big scores likely the 1 discard series could throw up some interesting outcomes. However odds on favourites have to be clear pre-worlds winners AUS 782 Guy Bancroft/Lachlan Imeneo, with Bangers looking for his 3rd consecutive title. There will however be challenges coming at him with probably ten boats capable of taking race wins and all the lead contenders from the pre-worlds intent on spoiling his party!

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