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Harken Musto Skiff training and open meeting at Datchet Water Sailing Club

by Stu Keegan & Ben Schooling 20 Jun 2019 16:08 BST 15-16 June 2019

With the 10th ACO Musto Skiff worlds approaching a new format of a combined racing and training format on the 15/16 of June. The Saturday involved a practice start between each race which was recorded and debriefed at the end of the day by Dan Henderson.

Four races where held with nine starts, with a short start line ensured everybody was focusing on getting a space on the start line. This was perfect practice for the forthcoming 110 boat worlds and the format of the weekend will be used again.

Saturday's weather ranged from 5-15 knots with the wind coming through in bands. Race 1 and the fleet welcomed the opportunity to practice starting and on the practice start the majority of the fleet were over the line. In the race Dave Poston lead around the windward mark on lap 1 with the others in hot pursuit. On lap 2 Poston went left up to the weather mark and those which went right up the first paid off. Stuart Keegan rounded the mark just ahead of Poston and Dave Annan in third. Launching and getting the ready for the downwind ride Poston took off for the win with Keegan 2nd and Dave Annan in third.

The winds eased for the second race. In the practice start the fleet all challenged for the favoured end of the line. Was this format encouraging people to push the line or push others over the line? The second race 'actual' start was more typical with the fleet heading off to the left of the race course. The fleet split with early port tackers coming out ahead at the first mark. On lap 2 Dan Vincent worked his way to the front of the fleet and lead the whole lap. On lap 3 Vincent was over taken by the charging Keegan and the two continued to have a tussle down wind into the fourth lap with Keegan having the edge at the gun.

Thankfully the OD reduced the laps down to three for race 3 which had three starts, the practice start, a general recall and then the start which got the race under way. A grey cloud could be seen which brought a band of rain through. This was particularity useful for Ed Chapman with his grey 'camo kite' however had problems which meant he could not finish with Dan Vincent taking the bullet from Keegan and Kilsby in third.

The final race of the day was another three-lap, 30 minute showdown and nine starts and gusty winds were starting to take their toll on the fleet with more than a few upturned hulls. Vincent showed his class with another convincing win with Keegan rounding out a great day in second with Schooling finishing third.

Dan Henderson was armed with a video camera which he used to video the starts and following individuals. A question and answer session was held reviewing the video with questions and answers taken from the sailors. This was a very useful session which provided insightful for those at the front of the fleet as well as those getting to grips with the boat. The group were enjoying themselves so much they nearly got locked into Datchet for the night with a mad dash to get out before the gates closed at 6pm!

A selection of the videos from Dan Henderson and rescue boat driver Hunter Warden can be found on the GBR Musto Skiff Class Association Facebook Page.

On Sunday morning over breakfast with aching muscles and another four races scheduled the fleet decided to forgo the training starts! The breeze was filling in and by the prompt 10:30 start was up to 15-20 knots with bigger gusts coming through. Dan Kilsby made the most of Race 5 with an energy boost from his Fathers' Day chocolate pizza to take the win from Schooling who just squeezed through Vincent before the finish.

Race 6 and Richard Pelley nailed the start to lead round the windward mark ahead of the chasing pack. The breeze was surging across the lake in solid gusts and Rich hooked into a belter downwind to clock 19.8kts on the GPS - it's fair to say the Stokes boys were loving the flat water conditions! With a lead of a leg all Pelley had to do was keep it simple with no mistakes but a rushed final gybe resulted in a swim and handed victory to Vincent with Schooling in third.

By race 7 the gusts were peaking at 22-24kts making a lap a mere 9 minutes of frenzied fitness-testing. Dave Poston made it out to the start line after running down Kensington High street following his Father's Day breakfast in central London and led round the windward with Kilsby in close pursuit. Schooling was third round and gybed set into a monster gust which he held to the leeward gate, overhauling the leaders who had to drop early. A chasing Pelley blasted through Schooling up the final beat but lost control on the bear away to hand victory back to Schooling. A quick recovery saw Pelley close out second from Dave Annan in third.

By the final race the fleet were starting to tire so the race was shortened to a quick fire 2 lap showdown. Four boats rounded the windward in unison and took off downwind in a ball of spray, Poston nuzzling Vincent with his spinnaker pole. Rich Pelley once again in the lead was cruelly held out past the gate by an over ambitious Vincent allowing Poston and Schooling through. By the finish Vincent had recovered into the lead with Poston in second and Schooling third.

Congratulation to Dan Vincent for back to back open meeting wins showing he's a serious contender for the upcoming Worlds. Schooling overhauled Keegan into second with Dan Kilsby and Rich Pelley third and fourth but tied on points.

Many thanks to Dan Henderson for his coaching, DWSC for slick race management and to Harken for the prizes. See you all in Medemblik in a few weeks!

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