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Laser Vago Coastal Nationals at West Kirby Sailing Club

by John Davies 22 Jul 2015 08:03 BST 18-19 July 2015
Laser Vago Coastal Nationals at West Kirby Sailing Club © Hannah Barnes

It was a rather windy Friday night when the first keen Vago sailors arrived at West Kirby Sailing Club for our Costal National Championships.

Once the rest of the group arrived on an even windier Saturday morning the stage was set for some close and exciting racing to see who was going to have to find space in their car boot to take home our hideously oversized Coastal Championship Trophy! In anticipation for such a positive outcome Dave Baxter selected the slimmest crew he could to ensure he had adequate space in his car!

After a welcome from Rear Commodore Jean Louis Simmons who promised marvellous conditions and a briefing from our Race Officer Chris Hoppins, we all eagerly waited for the tide to come in! Some of our inland sailors were sceptical that this distant blue line would ever make it to the slip way, but we assured them it would, and it did spurred on by the 23 knots of wind behind it.

Although the water looked a lot whiter than normal and looked very similar to the back drop of the hills of North Wales. Those mad enough left our brains on the slipway and launched our trusty Vagos on to the cappuccino waters of the Dee estuary. Once on the water the first challenge was to keep the boat in an upright position and head for the start line. A very strong wind and a large sea made the conditions formidable and only three Vagos made it to the start line.

The sensible ones turned back for shore whilst Simon Dowdell set a new record for how many times you could capsize a Vago before making a wise retreat! These were no conditions for any singlehanded sailor!

Spurred on by the fact that they could at least come third John and Jack Davies in Little Ranzo secured an excellent start with Ed & Louise and Dave & Kate down to leeward of them. Powering through the waves and listening in detail to what Jack was wearing from the rooster collection, John surprised himself and Jack by securing first place around the windward mark in Little Ranzo.

Once they were certain they were at the right mark they rounded and bore away. With Ed and Louise not far behind a kite hoist was going to be an essential but fool hardy manoeuvre to widen the gap. After a short debate Jack agreed on a kite hoist secure in the knowledge that in the event of a capsize he would remain warm and toasty in his new kit. Dave and Kate having gone left rather than right were battling with the tide to get back to the mark.

Then Little Ranzo's world was turned upside down when the bottom rudder gudgeon ripped off the boat taking half the transom with it! With the rudder hanging useless and a heavy swell Jacks suggestion of carrying on rudderless was quickly dismissed. Ed and Louise powered past Little Ranzo closely followed by Dave and Kate. The crew of Little Ranzo accepted defeat and the inevitable but eventful tow ashore.

Dave and Kate went on to pass Ed and Louise securing a 1st in race one and 2nd for Ed and Louise.

Race 2 started in the same conditions and after 3 laps Dave and Kate were once again the Winners with Ed and Louise taking 2nd place.

With wind strength increasing, only Dave and Kate were brave enough to start Race 3 and so secured their 3rd First, not bad for day one!

Once ashore and whilst Jack changed into a new outfit, John set about procuring a replacement boat for day 2. With kind agreement from Mark Williamson to borrow Vago 1118 and help from Ed Deacon, John checked over the replacement boat determined to give Ed and Dave a worthy challenge on day 2.

After some great WKSC hospitality everyone retired for the night looking forward to the forecasted moderate breeze the next day!

Sunday brought even stronger winds and so only the very mad went out having rigged their Vagos with the smaller standard rig. With Sea Sailing out of the question "Plan B" was invoked and everyone took to the fantastic flat water of the marine lake. Little Ranzo was last on the water as Jack took some time to choose the appropriate attire from his Rooster wardrobe.

Once the course was established, Race 4 Started with Ed & Louise first at the Windward Mark with John and Dave hot on their heels. At the downwind leg those choosing to fly the spinnaker quickly took the lead, discovered why Vagos have foot straps on the back for the crew and experienced some of the fastest downwind sailing with a standard rig! It also provided Richard and Hannah Barnes with some excellent photo opportunities making the long distance drive to the north very worthwhile!

Dave crossed the Finish First Follow by John and Jack in 2nd then Ed and Louise in Third. Between race 4 and 5 Ed thought it a good opportunity to see how deep the lake was with the top of his mast. But his experiment was costly as he found himself the wrong side of the line at the start and in the confusion Dave and Kate turned back thinking they "were over" opening up the way for John and Jack to take the lead and for Ed and Louise to squeeze nicely into second.

They enjoyed this until Dave popped up his kite on a ridiculously short reach to the inshore mark and flew past both boats before you could say "where did he come from" proving himself a very worthy winner of race 5, with Jack misjudging a wind shift Ed and Louise were able to take second and John & Jack third.

After a most memorable Costal National Championships with some "Epic" sailing, great food, great weather, fab photos and some lessons learnt, we all left West Kirby a little wiser and with the view in our rear view mirrors of Dave trying to shoe horn the trophy into his car boot. Well done Dave and Kate!

Many thanks to West Kirby for a great event.

Overall Results:

PosBoat NameSail NoClubHelmCrewR1R2R3R4R5Pts
1stSharknado1814Yorkshire Dales Sailing ClubDave BaxterKate Mellor11(DNC)1110
2nd 164Hunts Sailing ClubEd DeaconLouise Foreman2(DNC)DNC3219
3rdLittle Ranzo1067West Kirby Sailing ClubJohn DaviesJack Davies(DNC)DNCDNC2323
4thVee Bee200Tudor Sailing ClubRichard BarnesHannah Barnes(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNC30
4thVavavoom1234Tudor Sailing ClubSimon Dowldell (DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNC30

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