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Vattenfall Forts Race 2013

by Mark Barnes 25 Sep 2013 11:06 BST 21-22 September 2013

The well known Forts Race held off Whitstable, this year sponsored by Vattenfall, was going to be a tricky affair. With a forecast of sub 8 knots and spring tides, the wind gods were looking to play their joker. With the cancellation/abandonment of many sea events around the UK over the weekend, the prediction looked to be correct. This sometimes results in lower than normal turnouts as many now look at the viability of sailing prior to travelling.

This year's event was held in honour of Nick Dewhurst who was the driving force behind setting up the event 18 years ago, as well as one of the main driving forces behind getting the cat back in the Olympics. He died suddenly in the summer, but though not here, was remembered by all.

For the first time several of the faster dinghy classes were invited to see how they would stand up to the likes of the M20 Viper, Tornados and F18s.

Saturday dawned to very light but predicted winds. With a mass running start at 1230, the M20 Viper (Will Sunnucks/Freddie White) was to show its raw power by sprinting away from the fleet, chased by the F18 Nacra Infusion (Grant Piggott/Emma Pearson) and faster cats. Towards the back were the Spitfires, B14s and Dart 18s.

On the first leg of 13 km, 26 km round trip, the M20 Viper ripped up the course pulling out to a 3+ km lead by the Forts. With the bulk of the fleet in close contact gybing downwind, it was a case of staying out of the main channels and doing the cross tide sailing on Middle Sands. On the way back with the lee bow tide, most laid the turn mark by putting in a short hitch to the buoy.

With the fleet stretched to 10 km. by the return to the Whitstable turn mark, it was going to be a difficult one to call to see who was on the podium. However, the tide was slacking and shortly to turn. With the M20 Viper chased by the Tornados and F18s charging down to the Vattenfall Wind Farm 12 km, 24km round trip, would they get back before the tide started ebbing. This was to prove crucial to the overall results. Further back the first B14 (Mark Barnes/Drystan Harnett) was holding on to the coat tails of the Spitfires. Time was running out for those further back as the tide began to gather pace and wind began to slacken to 5 – 6 knots.

The M20 Viper was doing a master class in showing how much power they could generate in the lighter conditions as the entered leg 3 to Herne Bay pier 7 km, 14 km round trip. They had by now built a commanding lead and returned to the finish, as the first chase cat, the F18 Nacra Infusion commenced the downwind leg to Herne Bay closely chased by a group of 6 other cats.

As there was a cut off time of 1830, R/O John Silk, decided to cut the back of the fleet when they returned to the Whitstable turn mark from the Vattenfall Wind Farm. With the tide now in full flow at near to 3.0 knots, any up tide beating was to be a long drawn out affair. The lee bow was to be king.

All cats/boats finished inside the time limit. It had been a race of endurance as well as boat handling and tactics for most of the fleet. The tide proved to be a key factor due to the lighter than normal breeze from the SW.

The M20 Viper won line honours, first leg and overall. The F18 Nacra Infusion was second followed by F18 1588 (Tim Neal/Chris Neal). First dinghy was B14 788 (Seavolution (Mark Barnes/Drystan Harnett) followed by B14 724 (Edd Lowes/Rob Spaulton).

Sunday was to be 3 sprints over a 500 metre downwind track using Map My Tracks. However, the wind did not play ball and so the day was abandoned.

Overall a great day's sailing on Saturday with many catching up with old friends. A well run event. Let's just hope that next year the wind gods come out to play.

Nick Champion photos from the event can be found here.

Overall Results:

PosClassSail noSCHRSHelmCrewLeg 1Leg 2Leg 3FinishElapsedCorrected
1M20 Vampire DuoGBR10.847Will SunnucksFreddie White12:59:5314:20:4715:11:2715:11:2703:11:2703:46:02
2F18GBR15880.988Grant PiggottEmma Pearson13:16:5915:13:1216:14:1616:14:1604:14:1604:17:21
3F1815770.988Tim NealChris Neal13:17:3815:17:1016:19:0816:19:0804:19:0804:22:17
4Nacra 17140.976Rupert WhiteOliver Greber13:14:2415:16:5416:19:5516:19:5504:19:5504:26:18
5Nacra 171520.976A CliffordT Bruton13:14:5515:15:2416:22:2016:22:2004:22:2004:28:47
6Spitfire220137Maddy AndersonHarry Willett13:23:2615:38:5417:03:2717:03:2705:03:2704:52:37
7Spitfire106137Oliver KingJames King13:25:4915:40:3717:06:2017:06:2005:06:2004:55:24
8F18GBR10.988A Zambinski 13:21:3315:33:5116:56:1216:56:1204:56:1204:59:48
9Tornado4110.939Pete WilsonSteve Hodges13:17:3115:29:2616:47:0116:47:0104:47:0105:05:40
10F18GBR290.988Ghislain MelaineGreg Crease13:20:3315:38:1417:02:0717:02:0705:02:0705:05:47
11F18GBR0090.988Peter KingLaurie King13:22:4315:38:3517:04:1517:04:1505:04:1505:07:57
12Tornado40.939Geoff MylcristPaul Mylcrist13:19:4315:34:3216:54:5216:54:5204:54:5205:14:01
13Tornado4220.939Tim HucknellChris Pygall13:18:2715:31:2416:56:4416:56:4404:56:4405:16:01

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