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B14 Gul TT Series 2016 Round 3 at Whitstable Yacht Club

by Mark Watts 24 May 2016 12:05 BST 21-22 May 2016

Brushing up on swimming practice before the worlds in Garda!

The B14 Flying Circus headed to Whitstable for round 3 of the GUL TT Series. The fleet oracle Bish ordained at the start of the season that the run up to the worlds would be mostly light and shifty with dogs off chains boat breaking conditions in Whitstable... He has been, to the frustration of the fleet, mostly right!

Long range forecasts had been suggesting that at least one day at Whitstable was going to be BIG which sadly reduced numbers as teams stayed at home to further polish their boats ready for the Worlds in Garda.

For those that did make the trip, Saturday will go down as another B14 day to remember which can be categorised as "bloody brutal upwind on port".

Race 1 and the boats taking the pin and putting the bows down were first to dig into a big left shift and lead the charge to the top mark. GBR 796 Harken (Nick Craig/Tom Pygall) in their newly launched boat led the fleet round with a pack of boats just behind on their tale. The first run proved to be one of the more brutal of the event and with the short chop it was a balance of sending it or taking the more cautious approach. The Whitstable bay (Swale) chop made the gybes especially challenging as even the best placed gybe could lead to bow underwater exits and only those at the top of their game coming out upright.

By the end of Lap 1 Harken led from GBR 791 Flying Donkey (Mark Watts/Chris Bishop) recovering from a poor right hand choice on the first beat arrived in the front 5 with nothing to chose between them. GBR 795 Team Gul/North Sails (Mark Barnes/Charlotte Jones) executing a gybe drop took a perfect 10 for their gybe drop that all went a bit wrong and hand standed with silliness in front of the committee boat.

Coming into the last beat Flying Donkey had got right back into the game to follow Harken around with a tail end 505 to add to the excitement! A poor hoist on Harken let Flying Donkey overtake only to get stuck below the slower 505 allowing Harken to recover. A synchronised gybe saw a 2 boat drag race out to the left with Flying Donkey pulling away, only to overstand the lay-line and lead to a crazy 2 boat charge into the finish, Harken winning the photo finish on the line.

Coming home third having actually not capsized (sorry lads I stand corrected) were GBR 758 Anthill Mob (Tim Harrison/Johnny Radcliffe) who were just slower but to be fair upright!

Race 2 and sadly Harken had to sit out the rest of the day with mast track issues. With a depleted fleet and a building chop the fleet headed off again to enjoy the brutal beat where port tack saw crews sat back in the middle of the wings riding the bucking bronco and desperately trying to keep the boatspeed up. At the top mark Team Gul/North Sails had picked the best of the shifts to edge out Flying Donkey on the hoist with GBR 771 Blue Badge (Mike Bees/Ferret) following in third. The two leaders charged downwind nose to tail with Flying Donkey using their extra weight/leverage to power over Team GUL/North Sails. Both gybing together, Team Gul / North Sails caught a gust and piled it in for a pit stop. That was enough of that and Flying Donkey hiked harder, put the bow up and took offpulling out and sailing off into the spray. Team Gul/North Sails did a quick recovery only losing one place. Flying Donkey meanwhile cantered on. As usual the tale does not end there. Having control of the race, Flying Donkey took it a little too easy on the final run, slow gybed and hit the tide. However after a few nervous moments and a kite mess from hell they led through the finish without kite. Blue Badge taking a well earned second from a charging Team GUL/North Sails.

Race 3 and the breeze had ramped up another gear, although apparently only reading 22 knots on the committee boat leaving us all wondering if we have somehow managed to supercharge our rigs over the winter or lost a lot of talent!

It was by now a one way race track up the beat. Flying Donkey had another gear on the fleet and built decent lead by the windward mark with Blue Badge just in front of Team GUL/North Sails. There was some debate on Flying Donkey about the kite but downwind looked even less fun without, so learning from Race 2 it was a case of hoist, hike and take off. The gybe was nervy but the top 3 survived. As Flying Donkey approached the bottom gate the shortened course flag was hoisted. After trying to finish in a couple of different ways and some confusion with hand signals and shouting from the committee boat Flying Donkey stared back in puzzlement.. Half way up the next beat and with no sign of a finish boat at the windward mark the fleet peeled off for the beach in what were now the breeziest conditions of the weekend. Then a lone set of yellow sails were seen heading to the top mark.. followed by class newcomer GBR 707 "Are those really hanks on the jib/WABS (Amir Shamsuddin/Alex Stark (this year's frontrunner for crew tart of 2016)). These two went on to complete another lap and get a finish.

So confusion on the beach but in true B14 style no protests ensued. It was all settled over a beer and agreement that results would stand from the first lap. Kudos and bragging rights to Blue Badge and WABS for their extra lap of glory in the windiest conditions all weekend. Sea monsters and everything apparently.

The evening social saw the 1am license at the club as something of an impossible challenge as broken crews did their best to tame the bar and explore the sights of Whitstable. One team however were taking the Garda training very seriously. Customised Composites ((Team Nipple Tweak) Carl Raynes/Paul Roberts) were clear winners at the bar singlehanded they managed to fill tables of empty glasses and fly the B14 flag!

Sunday arrived and the two fleets (B14 and 505), awoke to very light winds and flat sea, with those that survived the previous day's escapades and evening's late night entertainment heading out to a game of chess rather that being adrenalin junkies of the day before.

After a short delay for the new breeze to fill in the fleets set sail into 3 – 5 knot breeze. Getting away at first start most of the main protagonists drove for the pin, Team GUL/North Sails tacked out of the middle and worked their way up the pressure lines pulling out to a lead chased by the Anthill Mob and Harken over the next 2 laps with Harken overtaking the Anthill Mob on the second beat. At the bottom mark the two leaders split and with a wind shift shortly after Harken took the lead and the following 2 engaged in a close shadow boxing exercise. With the race shortened at the windward mark, by the finish Team Harken won from a closing Team GUL/North Sails followed by the Anthill Mob. With time running out and no improvement in the conditions the R/O called it a day and the fleets headed in for warm pasta and drinks.

After a bit of number crunching, Flying Donkey (Eeyore) had done enough to hold on to first, with Blue Badge and Team GUL/North Sails on equal point with the later in third.

An enjoyable and a well run event both afloat and ashore, with some fond memories from Saturday. Next event is the Europeans and Worlds at Torbole on Lake Garda on 21 – 29.06.2016. The Aussie team alone are bringing 15 teams, so looks like it is going to be an epic battle between the northern and southern hemispheres to see who wins the Ashes.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoBoat NameHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4Pts
1791Flying DonkeyMark WattsChris BishopWeston SC211‑104
2771Blue BadgeMike BeesMartin WorthBrightlingsea SC422‑78
3795Team Gul/North SailsMark BarnesCharlotte JonesWhitstable Yacht Club(DNF)3328
4787TroublegumAlan DavisRich BellWeston SC64(DNF)414
5772TrunkyKathy SherrattDeclan ClampWeston SC55(DNC)818
679Harken/SandilineNick CraigTom PygallFrensham/Burghfield/Whitstable1(DNS)DNC120
7758Anthill MobTim HarrisonJonny RatcliffeGurnard SC3(DNF)DNC324
8707WABSAmir ShamsuddinAlex StarkKing George SC(DNF)DNC41234
9786Boaty McBlowboatGerry BrownLeaky (DNC)DNCDNC541
10769Daddy BoatDan CowinDan HollandsBurghfield SC(DNC)DNCDNC642
11757Mrs CGraham BridleAlex CaponBrightlingsea SC(DNS)6DNFDNC42
122Customised CompositesCarl Raynes Weston SC7(DNF)DNCDNC43
13770 Simon HadleyNikki HadleyWhitstable Yacht Club(DNC)DNCDNC945
14764Admiral TrailersTony BlackmoreNaomi PoundStarcross YC(DNF)DNCDNC1147
15784Neil PrydeSteve BarnesSimon ReynoldsWhitstable Yacht Club(DNC)DNCDNC1349
16=783 Henry WellsBen HeathcoteWest Mersea Yacht Club(DNF)DNCDNCDNC54
16=768PSB RepairsJames GardnerAnne GardnerHayling Island SC(DNF)DNCDNCDNF54

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