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British Keelboat League qualification complete after big weekend of action

by Richard Aspland 24 Aug 2018 06:42 BST 18-19 August 2018
2018 British Keelboat League © Neill Ross

The weekend of 18-19 August saw not one but two British Keelboat League Qualifiers taking place at opposite ends of the country.

While 14 teams representing 11 clubs gathered at Shepards Wharf Marina, Cowes, for a chance to bag a slot for their club in Septembers British Keelboat League Final, seven teams representing six clubs were also fighting it out at the Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club, Helensburgh.

Sponsored by Selden Mast, Bainbridge International and Banks Sails, the British Keelboat League got underway at Cowes in a gentle 6-8 knot breeze with the Royal Hospital School team laying a down an early marker taking the first win of the regatta.

It was the Hayling Island Sailing Club (HISC) however that showed their dominance counting four straight wins in their first four races to lead the pack with the Wessex Exiles team pushing hard just behind.

As the day progressed the real battles were developing for third place with two Royal Thames Yacht club teams fighting each other for bragging rights and the BUSA open team and the BUSA Ladies team trading blows.

As the first day drew to a close HISC remained undefeated with six straight wins. The Wessex Exiles were just a couple of points behind and the BUSA Open team were winning the battle for third just one point ahead of Royal Thames B.

With a night's hospitality at the Royal Yacht Squadron in their system all teams were fresh and eager to continue racing on Sunday morning, the wind gods however had other ideas.

With gusts in to the 30 knot range, PRO Charles Hall-Thompson went out to assess the chances of racing but with a building forecast quite sensibly called an end to proceedings at around 1030.

With the results from Saturday night confirmed, HISC picked up the top prize at the Pavilion at the Royal Yacht Squadron.

Paul Childs, skipper of the winning HISC team said: "It is great to be back racing in the British Keelboat League. Thanks go out to the Royal Yacht Squadron for organising a great event with good races and quick changeovers.

"Saturday was a great day for us with fantastic conditions, although very shifty and gusty in Osborne Bay. We managed to sail really well with my team mates Tristan and Dicken making some great calls, while Sam and I concentrated on keeping the manoeuvres smooth as any mistakes on the short course were really costly.

"We are looking forward to the finals in September and hope for more great sailing."

Heading north to the Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club, Helensburgh, and the British Keelboat League Qualifier seemed to be the same, but different, as only one day of racing could be completed.

Racing in the clubs fleet of Sonars, with the addition of Selden Masts, the competitors went afloat in fairly typical Scottish conditions, blustery wind and drizzle from the North West.

The young team from the Royal Ocean Racing Club took victory in the first two races to show their credentials and only lost their perfect record in race six.

In second place, the predominantly family team from Oxford Sailing club were keeping the pressure on and had managed eight top two results from their 13 races.

The battle for third place again was tight and the team from Ullswater Yacht Club had managed to squeeze a narrow four point advantage over Oban Sailing Club after their thirteen races.

Day one drew to a close with an impressive 18 races completed, spearheaded by PRO Neill Ross, before everyone retired to the comforts of the Royal Northern and Clyde's club house.

Yet again the weather gods played their part on Sunday, but this time there was a distinct lack with not a ripple on the waters of Gare Loch.

Despite all hopes of a breeze filling in by lunch time it became all too obvious that it was not to be and the Scottish Qualifier was also abandoned around noon.

As with the Cowes qualifier, the overnight leaders had taken the spoils. The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) were confirmed as winners.

Connor Miller, skipper of RORC team said: "As we were short a team member we would like to thank all those who helped us out by jumping on board at various stages, it was great to meet so many different sailors.

"The club was a beautiful place to sail and from a RORC perspective it is great to be able to travel and do a bit of inshore racing representing the club and their under 35 group."

With qualification complete attention now turns to the British Keelboat League Final, sponsored by Selden Mast, Bainbridge International and Banks Sails, hosted by the Royal Thames Yacht Club on 28-30 September 2018.

For more information and to keep up to date with British Keelboat Sailing go to www.facebook.com/BritishKeelboatSailing

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