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Clwb Hwlio Pwllheli Sailing Club Autumn Challenge Weekend 4

by Mark Thompson 31 Oct 2017 08:14 GMT 28-29 October 2017
Mojito lead the fleet away in Sunday's second race on Pwllheli Sailing Club Autumn Challenge Weekend 4 © Gerallt Williams

After losing a weekend to 'Storm Brian', the final weekend of this 16 race series promised champagne sailing conditions, with westerly winds veering to northerlies over the weekend, and the possibility of sunshine!

With neap tides we elected to fit in an extra race each day to make up the races to 14. A challenge for Race Officer Robin Evans, was devising courses with many of the marks out of position, or missing following the storm (if anyone knows where number 10 is please get in touch!).

Eight boats came to the line on a damp and overcast Saturday, with lighter than forecast winds for three great races. J80 "Jac Y Do" managed to get into the shallow beach end for the first start which was heavily biased, giving a great opportunity to get away from the fleet and with a great spinnaker run to the finish managed to just take 1st from "Mojito". The next two races went to "Mojito" which put Class 1 and the series in the bag.

After racing, crews enjoyed the videos of the start on the big screen in Plas Heli, and a fantastic evening at the Autumn Supper, with most crews enjoying a roast Welsh black lamb dinner, and a fair quantity of red wine!

Sunday dawned brightly, and with 10-15kt Northerly winds forecast, promising flat water and epic racing conditions, the post-party malaise was soon forgotten! Setting race tracks with the marks out of position was very difficult for Robin today, but he devised some interesting tracks, with some windward/leeward legs at one end and some long legs along the beach, which the shore side supporters and spectators really enjoyed! Perhaps we should leave the marks where they are!

The first race sent us down to number 2 for some windward/leeward racing to 3 and back to 2 and repeat! "Mojito" took the win, with Class 2 boats "Honey Bee" "Legless Again" and "Jac Y Do" taking the next three places. It was fast and furious with the spinnaker hoists and recoveries making the difference.

Race 2 and 3, Robin tuned the course round and brought marks to the east into play, with some particularly long legs. Race 2 sent us to Aberech beach before a long reaching leg back to the number 2 West End mark for the WL/LW legs to 3 and return to 2 and back toward Aberech once again.

The first two legs were reasonably trouble free, with the longer waterline boats getting away much more quickly on the flat water, and it was great to see "Diva" pushing "Mojito". Turning the mark to head West, we observed Mojito hoisting its code zero which gave us clue that this next leg might be tricky to carry our large asymmetric... should we rig the smaller one? Sadly we were on the mark still pondering this so went for the hoist. It was a very edgy angle and with everything eased we were still making a better speed than we would under jib so stuck with it! Approaching Gimlet Rock, about halfway down the leg, and in an area notorious for shifting winds, we got a monster gust and broached with the guard rails in the water. Decision time - carry on or go for the jib? We elected to lower the kite (or rather pull it in from the water!) but under our small jib were now only making 6.5kts. This pretty much signalled race over for us, but with two laps we had a chance to make up ground if we could carry the kite next time. Luckily the wind seemed to steady and we carried the kite to the finish. This race was won by "Honey Bee" with "Mojito" second and a relieved (and slightly wet) "Jac Y Do" in third.

The final race was similar to race 2 but with a leg from 7 to O and then number 4 promising some opportunities to sail hot angles with assymetrics.

It was a particularly enjoyable race, the sun was shining, the breeze now steady with minimal gusts and particularly consistent direction. The start took a few off guard but only one boat OCS for another trip down to Aberech beach. Round number 7 with the longer boats really making hay, "Diva" "Mojito" and "Valkerie" bunched up and "Darling XX" close behind. A great Kite run to 4 via a gybe at O was epic, with Jac Y Do" recording 12 kt speeds planing on the flat sea... could we reel in the longer boats? Sadly the final leg was to tight for the kite so a white sails fetch to the finish slowed us down. This race was won by "Mojito" just ahead of "Diva" on corrected, with the ever consistent "Honey Bee" in 3rd.

So the end of a great series which had strong winds, light winds and champagne sailing (and Storm Brian in the middle!) with J109 "Mojito" (Peter Dunlop and Vicky Cox) taking Class 1 and the overall series win, J80 "Jac Y Do" (Mark Thompson, Stephen and Richard Tudor) taking class 2 and 2nd overall, and HB31 "Honey Bee" (Will Partington) taking 2nd in class 2 and 3rd overall.

"Legless Again" (Dave Hughes) unlucky to lose its backstay in the last race took a fine 3rd in class 2 and 4th overall, again with Dave and his crew sailing the Sigma 33 very consistently.

Another great Autumn Series (Pwllheli Challenge) with full results at and we look forward to the Easter series in 2018. Join us in Cardigan Bay for great racing and socials.

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