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Gul B14 TT Series Round 1 at Rutland Sailing Club

by Mark Barnes 28 Mar 2017 09:57 BST 25-26 March 2017

As they say it is never over 'til it's over or the fat lady sings. That was the case at Rutland this weekend. Rutland Water was to be so unlike what has become the norm in March. Usually we get a chilly grey, possibly raining easterly breeze, which often blows dogs off chains. However, this year it was to be different. We had wall to wall sunshine and force 2 – 4 all weekend. What had gone wrong? The scene was set, the gladiators had arrived and battle was soon to commence.

From the front of the fleet we had the all new Wonkey Donkey (Mark Watts/Chris Bishop) straight from the Dinghy Show to maiden race in their Seavolution steed, Team Gul / North Sails (Mark Barnes/Charlotte Jones) fresh from the GJW Direct Sailjuice Series, Blue Badge (Mike Bees/Martin Worth) on a trip out of Essex and P&B (Jasper Barnham/Jonny Ratcliffe) making up the front four. Ever-prowling on the back of this mix were Ullman Sails (Kathy Sherratt/Olly Needam) and Team Marlow (Dan Cowin/Amir Shamuddin).

So the track was set, the Musto Skiffs were off on the outer loop and the B14s gunning to go. First start, the main protagonists hit the line with little to spare. Up the track firstly Wonkey Donkey and Team Gul / North Sails engaged in a bit of shadow boxing as they tacked up the shore and over the next 2 laps gybed back along with pressure and shifts. The wolf pack was led by Blue Badge who on the second lap pounced from the shadows of the hard right to nearly take the lead but split the two. Over the final lap there was little to choose as a battle royal ensued. Down the last run Team Gul / North Sails took the left inside track trying to get the angle on the two, but it was not to be. At the finish with very little between and no quarter given, Wonkey Donkey wobbled home first followed by the Badge and Team Gul / North Sails.

Races 2 and 3 went to Team Gul / North Sails with Wonkey Donkey and Blue Badge jousting away with each collecting a 2 and 3 whilst holding the rest of the pack led by P&B and Ullman Sails at bay. Overnight Team Gul / North Sails held a one point lead.

The fleet retired to the Old Pheasant for a great evening, introducing some of the younger fleet members to bar billiards and skittles.

Sunday arrived, head fog cleared, and what, oh no, Blue Badge had her pass revoked due to an ongoing injury, so P&B would need to step up. Had super crew Jonny's pep talk the night before worked and had the weapons been honed. Time would tell...

Race 4 and all hit the line, but a double hoot (no X flag so a bit of confusion ensued as they could not hear the committee boat calling all clear) and Team Gul / North Sails, finally peeled off to return for what proved to be a false alarm, but would it come back to haunt them when seeing the rest 300 m. or more up the track. The chase was on. P&B was in her stride. It had worked. Jasper was on a mission and Jonny was soothing the fact they were leading. Wonkey Donkey had wobbled into 5th. Over the race P&B covered the pack, Wonkey Donkey leant on the steeds in front climbing to 2nd, as a prowling Team Gul / North Sails found every ounce and trick in the box to pull back, but alas at the finish, it was P&B from Wonkey Donkey and Team Marlow holding off Team GUL/North Sails as time ran out.

Race 5 and all fired up, Team Gul / North Sails led from the start over the next 3 laps shadowed by a combative P&B who never let go. Each lap they pulled the genie out of the lamp coming back downwind in pressure. On lap 4 they did it once too often and got the overlap inside on the last gybe for the finish just piping Team Gul / North Sails with daylight back to the rest.

Race 6 and all to play for. The three main protagonists lined up abreast and fired off up the track, with Wonkey Donkey getting the edge as they rounded nose to tail. Down the run the cross gybing continued. Over the next 3 laps Wonkey Donkey held on but P&B and Team Gul / North Sails swapped with never more than 10 boat lengths between the 3. On the final run in, Donkey was bucking with joy as they realised they might pull it off. They crossed the line just ahead of Team Gul / North Sails who closed the door gybing on top of P&B to finish 2 and 2nd overall on countback with P&B third.

A great weekend's racing run with slick management on and off the water, a great evening provided at the Old Pheasant and some great prizes provided by Gul, with GBR 757 Alex Capon/Al Storer winning the Merit prize for the weekend's work on the water. With more to come at Stokes Bay on the 8th/9th April 2017 when Round 2 takes place. If this is anything to go by, the racing should be electric. See you there.

Overall Results:

PosHelmCrewSail NoClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1stMartin WattsChris Bishop79Weston YC1‑322319
2ndMark BarnesCharlotte Jones795Whitstable311‑4229
3rdJasper BarnhamJonny Ratcliffe791Snettisham4‑5411313
4thKathy SherrattOli772Western YC‑54554422
5thDan CowinAmir Shansuddin769Berfield Sc6‑7635525
6thMike BeesMartin Worth771Brighlingsea223(DNC)DNCDNC27
7thAlex CaponAl Storer757 ‑88766734
8thRhys TriffittStuart Hadfield775Rutland(RET)DNCDNC77640
9thJames GardnerAnne Gardner768Hayling Island76(DNC)DNCDNCDNC43

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