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Laser Vago Coastal Nationals at West Kirby Sailing Club

by Hannah Barnes 26 Jul 2014 15:40 BST 28-29 June 2014

The 2014 Laser Vago Coastal Nationals were held on the weekend of 28th & 29th at West Kirby Sailing Club. Three boats from WKSC were in attendance along with six travellers from across the country with one boat coming from as far away as Tudor Sailing Club in Portsmouth. The championships consisted of an 8 race series with 6 races in the estuary and 2 on the West Kirby Marine Lake. The forecast for the weekend was for a mix of conditions with those arriving on Friday being greeting with grey skies and rain. This continued overnight and into the next morning but thankfully cleared up as the races started.

The first race was on the estuary with a simple windward / leeward course which was set across the tide. The race officer had to delay the planned start for a few minutes while waiting for the fleet to arrive as most had followed the home Vago 'Little Ranzo' who had sailed across towards the wrong committee boat.

The fleet had clean start with most opting for right hand side of course but Vago 200 of Richard and Hannah Barnes using their tidal knowledge from their home club chose to go off to left accompanied by 164 (Ed Deacon & Felicity Jones). 164 tacked off to hedge their bets down the middle whilst 200 continued on their own looking rather lonely and nervously wondering if they had made the right decision, especially as all the local boats had chosen the other side of the course.

200 eventually tacked off to head to the first mark where they found that they had made the right choice arriving ahead of the rest of the fleet. The next two round the mark were Dave in 358 and Dan & Jan in 345.

Kites were hoisted as the fleet sailed off towards the leeward mark with 358 gaining an advantage over 200 to windward, 345 also took this advantage and sneaked past.

358 gained an advantage to windward and overtook with the kite up. Jan / Dan also managed to get past. The positions of the leading pack then stayed the same for the rest of the race with 164 hot on their heels but not quite being able to catch up.

Race 2 was again a windward / leeward course, across the tide, but with a weaker tide than race 1. Several boats were OCS including Doug & Sally in 996 who sadly didn't realise and continued round the course. 200 and 358 chose the pin end of the line and got a strong clean start.

200 again opted to go left but was followed this time by a more of the fleet. At the first mark the fleet was led by 358 followed by 200 and 345.

358 sailing singled handed shot off up the course only ever to be seen again far far away. At the final mark, 358 was leading, followed by 345, 164 and 200. 200 tacked off into clear air and capitalised on 164 following in the dirty air of 345 up the final beat, with 200 sneaking ahead of 164 at the finish just behind 345... although 345 were again DSQ'd for not sailing through the line.

The race office chose to keep the same course for race 3 but the tide was now going out, flowing strongly the opposite way across the course.

The first beat was tight, with lots of boats arriving at the first mark together. The tide was streaming across the mark causing many boats to bail out at the last minute, several boats were hemmed in by boats on better angles to windward.

A big pile up at the windward mark ensued, 200 tacked in front of 742 only to find 345 coming in slightly out of control on port, 742 tried their best to avoid 200 but contact was made by all three with 345 then wrapping themselves around the mark, the three were later joined by 1067 who just about managed to avoid the melee.

200 sailed clear and performed a tricky pair penalty turns for making contact with 742 and then spent the rest of the race fighting their way back up the fleet from last place, to finish 4th. Brian Pitman in 1444 had been going well but gear failure meant he had to return to shore early.

Race 4 was held on the marine lake with no wind at the marks close to the wall. The winde general was very light and non-existent on some parts the course.

The first mark was in one of these wind holes and there was a predictable pile up as those with wind glided into those stuck with none. Dave in 345 was sailing singled handed took full advantage of his favourable weight to win the race followed by the other single hander of Brian Pitman.

Race 5 was also held on the marine lake. The windless marks were dragged in from the wall, but the first mark remained challenging with a similar pile up as the boats passed for the first time. This time 164 got the advantage and kept clear of the fleet to win the race.

The weather on Sunday was improved with more breeze and even some sunshine. All the racing on Sunday was held on the estuary with race officer Paul Jenkins setting a triangle / sausage course.

After waiting for the water to arrive the fleet left the slip at about 1130 to head out to the start line.

The local classes of Hillbre, Star and Falcon we already out racing having been hauled out to the water by the WKSC boatmen with their tractor.

The start line had a definite committee boat bias with 200, 1067, 345, 998 and 164 all looking for space. 200 closed the door on 1067 and only just passed the committee boat with inches to spare with the tide pulling them towards it.

358 opted for a port tack flyer away from the committee boat party and part way up the 1st beat skimmed past the transom of 200 with only millimetres to spare.

200 had a good beat and made it to the windward mark 1st and hoisted their kite, closely followed by 358, both boats were still very close at the 3rd mark of the triangle but a bad kite drop by 200 (halyard tangled in the sheets) allowed 348 to get ahead and 742 and 164 to also make large gains.

200 went the wrong way up the beat allowing 742 and 164 to get really close, all three went round the windward mark closely with 200 losing out to the others when they put their kites up and stole 200's wind. 164 managed to pass 742 and by the end of race 200 had made gains on them not quite enough to get a place back.

The tide was flowing through the start line against the fleet in race 7. With poor starts by most of the boats as they were swept backwards.

358 once again streaked into the lead along with 1344 who had a fantastic start and first beat, with 200, 164 and 742 in hot pursuit. 742 rounded the windward mark ahead of 200 and 164.

164 hoisted their kite and passed 200 to windward on the fast reach to mark 2 as the crew of 200 was a bit hesitant about wiring with the kite up in the gusty wind and lumpy water. During the next reach 200 managed to catch up and pass 742 to windward as 742 attempted to luff 200 up but 200 had carried more boat speed and managed to avoid contact with 742 and kept the kite flying to get past.

200 managed to gain a final place when 1344 unfortunately capsized by the final mark of the course.

The final race of the series was the same triangle / sausage course, the wind had increased and the sea had got a bit choppier than in the previous raced.

The fleet had a good start apart from 358 who was OCS, there was confusion by some as 742 shouted there was a general recall and a few boats slowed down to check and then saw the individual recall flag go down.

358's race did not get much better when he capsized part way round the first lap. 200 chose the wrong side of the beat and had a lot of catching up to do after the first mark which they rounded 7th, however found they were a bit faster with the spinnaker pole now out longer – (it had been found In the boat park that about a foot was still in the boat with the kite all the way up).

200 made some ground up on the beat and then chose to closely follow 164 on the downwind leg, both boats choosing the side of the course out of the tide, the move paid off with 200 having made up the lost ground on the rest of the fleet.

200 rounded the final mark just behind 742 but hard work on the beat and a misfortunate trawling of the crew of 742 put them back up to 4th. The final race was won by Dan & Jan in 345.

The prizegiving was held in the clubhouse after the racing along with a BBQ, the presentation was hosted by the race officer and presented by the Vice Commodore of WKSC. A big thanks to Paul Jenkins for running the racing, Alan Jenkins for taking photos, Nikki & Kieran Inman for assisting on the committee boat and sorting out all the food and to all the WKSC members who helped make the weekend a success. The Vago class thoroughly enjoyed the weekend at WKSC and look forward to returning again in the future.

Overall Results:

PosBoat NameSail NoClubHelmCrewR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8Total Pts
1stOn The Fly358Yorkshire Dales Sailing ClubDave Baxter 1111311‑615
2nd 164Hunts Sailing ClubEd DeaconFelicity Jones‑3322123319
3rdVee Bee200Tudor Sailing ClubRichard BarnesHannah Barnes2244‑744431
4thZumzlezee1444Hunts Sailing ClubBrian Pitman 54(DNF)326DNF242
5th 742Yorkshire Dales Sailing ClubLee CarterDan Trowsdale‑7765535745
6th 996Bartley Sailing ClubDouglas CooleySally Harris4(OCS)38496852
7thLittle Ranzo1067West Kirby Sailing ClubJohn DaviesJack Davies6556‑878550
8th 345West Kirby Sailing ClubDanielJan Kuitlmann(DNF)DNFDNFDNCDNC52158
9th 1118West Kirby Sailing ClubM WilliamsonPaul Welch8677687(DNF)59

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