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Musto Skiff Harken GBR Circuit Event 3 at Wilsonian Sailing Club

by Tom Taylor 10 May 15:34 BST 4-5 May 2019
Musto Skiff Harken GBR Circuit Event 3 at Wilsonian © Tim Olin / www.olinphoto.co.uk

A 22 boat fleet were warmly welcomed by the team at Wilsonian Sailing Club for the third Harken GBR Circuit Event of the season; breeze was forecast and the sun was shining for this two-day special over the bank holiday weekend.

Contrary to Saturday's spicier forecast, the fleet launched in relative calm, wafting out to the first bend of the river; all buoyed by the Race Officer's optimism, and with the words, "it's nothing you guys can't handle", ringing in their ears.

Away from the shelter of the north shore, a death-defying fetch to the race area ensued, dodging moored cruisers and casualties of the gusts. The Race Officer and Team struggled to get a course set and were increasingly resigned to the fleet's preference to seek the limited shelter being offered by Fort Hoo than head further out into the teeth of the gale.

After another squall topping 44 knots (or far more depending on the teller) the fleet declared their hull and foil inspections complete, unanimously heading for home; Molesworth and Samus demonstrating impressive seamanship in returning to shore unaided with their top mast sections sacrificed to the mud.

With sailing off the table, Wilsonian local Smith led a contingent of thirsty sailors on a pub crawl towards their eventual dinner, where the fleet enjoyed plenty of food and beer, whilst reminiscing about their heroism on surviving the day and looking forward to some racing on Sunday.

True to the forecast, Sunday dawned with a more manageable, if gusty, 515 knots. Low tide meant a very sociable 10:50 first start and tight on time, the Race Team excelled in getting four races run in quick succession.

Race 1 saw regular front runners Kilsby and Vincent take first and second respectively, and having tangled through all three laps, it came down to the final gybe for Taylor to snag third from Pelley in fourth, with Simpson just behind the pair finishing fifth.

Race 2 saw both Dans again in top position at the first mark, having taken advantage of a shift favouring the left hand side.

On the second windward the breeze continued to the left and an early tack from the leeward mark onto port set Peake and Taylor up on the lay line for a fast fetch into first and second, with much of the fleet over stood and in reduced breeze out to the left.

The two hunted each other dropping back into touch with the fleet until the final beat where the pair split. Peake again opted for the left but with a touch less tide and a spot more pressure the right side became favourable again, enabling Taylor to retain the lead and Oliver, Kilsby and Vincent to move into second, third and fourth, but with Peake managing to hang onto fifth.

Race 3 started in lighter breeze with the left returning to favour. Vincent sailed consistently again to take the bullet whilst Stickland and Peake made the best of the shifts to finish in second and third, with Kilsby and Oliver in close succession.

The sequence started for Race 4, and with a discard on the cards and the tide slacking, the fleet were jostling right to the the line, with Kilsby luffed over seconds before the gun.

In exonerating himself the right hand corner was the only option for clean air, but this was straight into an auspicious shift, and combined with better breeze he was back into the pack to take third.

Meanwhile Pelley had again found his form, taking full advantage of the same shift he locked in an early and lengthy lead, which he maintained to the finish taking first, with Poston second.

First and second, third and fourth, were respectively determined by countback: testimony to a day of tight racing.

A huge thank you must go to all who made this event possible, from the Race Team, everyone in the galley and of course the local sailors and travelling competitors. The Fleet look forward to the next event at Datchet 1516 June 2019.

See more photos from Tim Olin

Overall Results: (also available as PDF)

PosHelmR1R2R3R4Pts
1stDan Vincent241‑67
2ndDan Kilsby13‑437
3rdTom Taylor317‑1211
4thGraeme Oliver‑1125411
5thAndrew Peake‑1253513
6thRichard Pelley4‑1110115
7thDave Poston77‑9216
8thAndrew Stickland6‑1221119
9thJon Simpson596(DNC)20
10thSean Thijsse‑988723
11thDavid Annan‑146131029
12thRichard Smith‑131011829
13thStuart Harris81412(RET)34
14thNick Lett‑161314936
15thNathan Stenier10‑15151338
16thLee Cullen1516(RET)1445
17thMartin Jones17RETDNCDNC63
18thPaul MolesworthDNCDNCDNCDNC69
18thSerega SamusDNCDNCDNCDNC69
18thBen SchoolingDNCDNCDNCDNC69
18thRichard EvensDNCDNCDNCDNC69

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