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British Keelboat League Qualifier at Draycote Water Sailing Club

by Lee Timothy 28 May 2019 18:13 BST 25-26 May 2019
British Keelboat League Qualifier at Draycote Water © BKL

Haversham Sailing Club and Budworth Sailing Club show their strength in breezy conditions and get ahead of the pack to qualify for the British Keelboat League Final. A total of 28 races over the two day event, with each team competing in 20 races, sailors were tested by the variety of conditions presented by the Midlands reservoir.

Day 1

The first day of the BKL Draycote qualifier certainly fed the appetite of all seven teams, with the excellent conditions leading to a total of 14 races being completed. It was clear to see competitors having bundles of fun, duelling on the short windward leeward racecourse.

A good breeze was forecasted to come from the north western shore of the reservoir, with a scheduled steady drop throughout the day, which was evident as racing was canned for the day due to the lack of breeze at 4pm. Matt Rowley, the event's Race Officer, promptly got racing under way at the start of the day just out from the shore of the Warwickshire club with a 10:30 warning signal.

Racing was exciting and fast paced in the morning, as teams worked hard to keep the RS21s tamed in the gusty conditions. Budworth Sailing Club took an early advantage by winning race One in the PA Consulting Group boat. Oxford Sailing Club also posted some great results in the opening races of the day with a first and two seconds making up the best of their opening handful of races.

As the races racked up and the day progressed, the breeze steadily dropped and shifted further west, which lead to infamously shifty conditions at Draycote Water. Teams were repeatedly attracted to the left side of the beat as the backing breeze and prevailing conditions seemed to produce more pressure than the slightly sheltered starboard side.

The leading team, Budworth Sailing Club, did find themselves in a sicky situation in race 7, caught to windward of the Sheffield Hallam team, they were forced over the start line early and failed to response to X-ray flag displayed on the committee boat which lead to Budworth being scored an OCS. However, this was one of their few mistakes as Budworth still lead the pack at the end of day one.

Day 2

Day 2 took racing to the next level as the increased breeze delivered a thrilling day of BKL racing. With the wind coming from a westerly direction, Race Officer Matt Rowley set the course on the far side of the reservoir to allow for teams to take full advantage of the conditions.

Banbury sailing Club got off to an excellent start in the breeze as they posted two firsts and two second place finishes in their opening four races of the day. The breeze made for some exhilarating viewing but with gusts over 20 knots from midday on the short sprint course, Juliet flag was displayed from the committee boat which prohibited the use of spinnakers. This brought an all new element to the racing with more boat on boat action in the downwind legs of the races.

The leaders from day one, Budworth Sailing Club struggled in patches with the increased breeze and found themselves in a very unfamiliar fifth place in race 17. Capitalising on the form of Budworth SC was Haversham Sailing Club, who found their form to pull together some impressive results, boosting their position in the overall standings.

The First award for Draper Tool of the event very appropriately was awarded to the Sheffield Hallam Team who were at fault for a rule 11 infringement. This was followed by the announcement of the overall standings.

1st Haversham Sailing Club 74 points
2nd Budworth Sailing Club 71 points
3rd Banbury Sailing Club 68 points
4th University of Nottingham 63 points
5th Oxford Sailing Club 61 points
6th Sheffield Hallam 44 points
7th Bartley Sailing Club 34 points

A well deserved congratulations to Haversham and Budworth Sailing Clubs for confirming their place in the British Keelboat League Finals Weekend to the hosted by the Royal Thames Yacht Club on from the 27th 29th September.

The British Keelboat League would like to share thanks to all our Sponsors; RS Sailing, Rooster, Bainbridge International, Draper Tools, the boat sponsors; Kingfisher Yacht Ropes, A-Plan Insurance, MDL Marinas, PA Consulting and GJW Direct. Also, a big thanks must be extended to the excellently efficient and friendly team at Draycote Water Sailing Club and the race management team.

Next up the BKL travels over to the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, Burnham-on Crouch on the 8th and 9th June to find the next two teams who will qualify for the BKL finals.

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