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Gul B14 TT round 5 at Eastbourne Sovereign Sailing Club

by Geraldine & Chris Fermor 10 Jul 2017 10:06 BST 1-2 July 2017

"I don't know how some people sleep at night".

Eastbourne Sovereign Sailing Club welcomed us for the fifth TT of the year. The B14 fleet included locals Christian and Daniella and long distance travellers Jasper and Oil from King's Lynn. This was also the first outing for newcomers Dave White and Barry, (Netley SC), who were hoping to pick up some tips and test their boat speed. Husband and wife team, Mark and Kathy Watts, really mixed it up with alternating helming and crewing, all in the name of equality and "shared roles", perhaps seeing who would get on top.

It was to turn out to be a weekend of deceitful thieving, pick-pocketing and general pilferage. All carried out with the best possible taste!

Head-boiling was also going to be par for the course for all the fleets. Sailors of 4000s, Musto Skiffs, RS800s and B14s all wrestled with the usual issues of current, sun cream and trying to make the most of a 'where the three winds meet' scenario: Just off The Pier........Somewhere

The wind started off pretty much northerly off-shore with puffs from the north-west, off the South Downs. Four laps were planned for the first race and we were off. Gerry and Leaky made the most of the shifts on the first beat and led for the first two laps but missed the shortened course flag and then there was a race back to the line, with Wattsy taking the win. "Never mind, its only a number," someone said. First steal to Mark and Kathy (795).

The tide picked up and the wind turned off, making the second start a pretty interesting affair. The first two fleets had got away but we were being swept off to Hastings, away from the line and some concentrated in nicking some paint from the Committee Boat, in the sorry process. The postponement wisely was set, much to everyone's relief!

After a shortish delay, while we all surveyed the facades of the Eastbourne Frontage and the beginning of the South Downs Way (yes the XC biking journey that the venerable Mr Watts wishes to do "On-the-way-home", LOL). Then somebody in touch with upstairs, ordered a double-portion of sea breeze action from the West. Well yippee.....the black eye mask is on, the Loot Bag is over the shoulder and the jemmy is firmly in hand. We're all off again in a settled 12-15 knots: "Luvverly-jubbly, year we'll be?"

Then sadly, Jasper and Oli (791), unluckily unpeeled a spreader and had to head home. Mark and Kathy led the majority of the race but Gerry and Leaky gradually gained on the last downwind leg to pip the win with a Musto-sandwich garnish on a classic, proper downwind finish. Steal number 2 to Gerry and Leaky!

The wind picked up even more to a solid 18 knots for the third race. The Leakies got away clean from the 4000s, perhaps showing them that B14s do point. Meanwhile, the mega-attractive Watt's team got surrounded on the start by 4000s, cursed, then escaped by heading off right, leaving the Committee Boat unscathed. God was suitably impressed as their choice turned into a massive, unassailable lead which they kept to the end. They were practically washing-up on the beach before we all got to the finish.

The fleet enjoyed an evening stroll on the pier, far too much Italian ice cream and a very nice beer or two in the club! The Watt's were saved from camping as Jasper and Oli's damage was irreparable and the boat returned to Norfolk, leaving their thirty quid AirBnB for Mark and Kathy. Double-Fortune Cookie with Belgium Chocolate, Sir!

Christian, Daniella, The Leakies and the Watts's headed towards The Pier, hoping to 'encourage' some cash from the amusement machines. Alas, to find that shortly after Richie Reynolds (Sydney "The Nude") last visited this bristling nightspot, it had burnt down, taking the amusements with it! Boo, we were reduced to walking around the Pier, taking the evening air, then piling into the one childish thing we could find: the ubiquitous Yellow Digger machine! Yay! We were happy.

Sunday was a similar repeat weather-wise starting with the gentle northerly. Again Gerry and Leaky made the most of the shifts and led by half a leg. This time the Watt's gradually reeled them in downwind in the dying breeze and whilst we were having a drifting starboard–port interaction 100 yards off the line, Alex and Fin (750) sneaked in on a lovely bit of pressure at the other end of the line to take the win and no-one had seen them coming. Alex: "Well I thought I'd head out left and see what the current would do...." Great sneaking, boys. Very light-fingered!

An intermission of drifting followed whilst the sea breeze sorted itself out. Yet another course reset and we were happy to set off in 12 knots. For the first time in the weekend, the tide was taking us embarrassingly over the line and so sheepishly, got back (naughty Leaky). Also, with the last minute lift, everyone was desperately trying to slow and dip in a lively start. Mark and Kathy did well and again created that unassailable lead, leaving Alex and Gerry to battle it out further back.

The wind eased, Leaky packed the jib sheets under the kite, limiting any chance of tacking (which was the obvious thing to do, if one didn't have their mush in The Bag), and Mark and Alex romped off up the left of the course, where the pressure was waving a big flag saying "Here I Am". Gerry thought she'd just do something else and headed right, into the doldrums. The doldrums spread and at the point where the two winds met, it eventually filled in from the right, giving Gerry and Leaky an unimagined boost with a lead they kept and another lucky steal of a win.

On positions, the Watt's should have won, but unfortunately their dip (hummus?) on the last start wasn't enough and their OCS meant Gerry and Leaky took the event win on countback.

Close racing and multiple position changes in the last 200 yards kept it a really exciting event, despite the slightly depleted numbers. Thanks so much to Eastbourne for their hospitality, race organisation in really tricky conditions and help from the amazing beach crew!

The Classiest Prize went to the boys from Netley, who had the biggest smiles on their faces from their day's B14 racing, desperate for a chunk more. They had to return to families on the Saturday evening, but they'd already got plans for getting out again very soon... But, they may have been slightly out-smiled by Fin, who quite rightly was beaming on his first bullet in a B14 with Alex. Great to see the future in the Class! Big vote of thanks to Christian for the arrangement of the events and to him and Daniella in "using to all up", by properly enjoying the outside pressure downwind on the last race. After all, who could blame him?

And nobody got arrested.

Overall results:

1st Geri & Leaky Fermor, The Mote
2nd Mark Watts & Kathy Sherratt, Weston SC
3rd Alex Capon & Fin Clark, Brightlingsea SC
4th Jasper Barnham & Oli Wells, Snettisham Beach
5th Christian Wilms & Daniella Alt, Eastbourne Sovereign SC
6th Dave White & Barry Argent, Netley Cliff

Full positions at

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