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Highfield Boats - Sailing - LEADERBOARD

Gold Sails 18ft Skiff Solent Grand Prix Series - Round 1 at Calshot

by Tom Hill 2 Apr 2018 14:41 BST 31-1 April 2018
18ft Skiff Solent Grand Prix Series - Round 1 © Marcus Roberts

This weekend was the first round of the Solent Grand Prix Series for the U.K. 18ft Skiff fleet. The boats that recently competed in the JJ are still in transit, so a compact fleet met to race the first weekend at Calshot.

Day 1

It didn't feel like summer had started yet as the crews rigged in some pretty miserable rain and many crews huddled round phones checking all possible forecasts. Forecast suggested that the wind would increase and be a little more gusty, but quite how much by was unsure. Most of the fleet plugged in the number two, The Green Skiff being the only boat who went with the number one.

As the fleet launched, there were many discussions on the little rig boats thinking they'd got it wrong. But as the race committee got into sequence, the breeze cranked up a notch, putting the wind range very much in the cross over of the two rigs. This year's racing is being entirely run by the class, so it was good to see a course set by a well oiled race team.

The first race got off in a North Westerly up to a windward mark near Calshot spit. The Green Skiff were holding on to their big rig until their internal main sheet system failed and took them out of contention. ChameleonI led Sail 4 Cancer and Union Rose at the top Mark and all three boats over stood the lay and needed the press quite hard to get up to the Leeward mark, all dropping kites early. The second lap spread out the fleet in the same order and ChameleonI took the win.

The fleet was a little more line shy in the second race, but got away in some fresh breeze. The wind had shifted, allowing a much longer beat and allowed more gybing down the kite runs. A bit of fatigue led to a couple of capsizes for Union Rose who dropped off the pace. The new team of Sail 4 Cancer keep the pressure on ChameleonI but couldn't get in front before crossing the line. The race committee ended the day there to head back for shore. Teams had a quick derig and chat over beers supplied by the weekend's sponsor, Gold Sails.

Day 2

It was known that the forecast wouldn't produce much wind, if at all, for the second day of racing. This meant most of the fleet had enjoyed a few more beers than usual and were feeling a little delicate.

As the fleet arrived, there was a nice 6 knots that could make for an interesting tactical day and perfect to try out a new long distance format. Unfortunately the forecasted suggested this wind would drop off by 11.30 and so when the wind shut off completely as planned, the race committee took the decision to abandon racing for the weekend.

This weekend was a huge step for the U.K. fleet. A busy winter of organising the series came together and the whole fleet is incredibly pumped for the potential this season can bring. It promises to be an exciting event throughout the year with the addition of the JJ container and the interest from others joining the fleet. A special mention to Luke and Ben for the first weekend racing in an 18 - definitely a pair to watch through this season!

Round 2 of the Solent Grand Prix Series will be in a few weeks time on the 21st and 22nd April. To get involved, email

Results:

1. ChameleonI, 2pts
2. Sail 4 Cancer, 4pts
3. Union Rose, 6pts
4. The Green Skiff, 10pts

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