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Teach Dinghy Sailing by Gaz Harrison
Teach Dinghy Sailing by Gaz Harrison

New Quay Yacht Club Keelboat Regatta 2019

by Chris Seal 23 Jul 2019 17:20 BST 18-21 July 2019
Katabatic in the New Quay Yacht Club Keelboat Regatta 2019 © Pete Thomas

The gloriously picturesque and unspoilt Cardigan Bay off New Quay, Ceredigion was the back-drop for the third biennial New Quay YC Keelboat Regatta - which has blossomed into the premier cruiser racing event in West Wales. A competitive fleet of local boats were joined by a few, if notable, visiting yachts from Aberaeron to compete for the cruiser regatta.

Once again, the event incorporated the Westerly Fulmar UK Nationals but this year, it also featured the Welsh Lift-Keel Cruiser Nationals for the Admirals' Cup - donated by the Seal family in memory of the late Dr Roger Seal and Malcolm Evans, the only two people known to have been officially appointed as 'Admiral' for a Welsh yacht club.

The racing was intense and close and, in stark contrast to the rest of the summer so far, the weather was windy and wet for the most part - with gusts over 30 knots recorded. Whilst some offshore winds kept the seas flat, westerlies allowed the seas to build up to create exacting and exciting conditions, made all-the-more enjoyable by having the company of a large family of dolphins as spectators.

A varied selection of courses were set by the PRO, Professor Nick James. These allowed all types of cruisers to revel in the conditions; windward-leeward (including leeward gates), a coastal race to Aberaeron and a 'Round the Cans' using the numerous club fixed marks along with the usual large inflatable 'tetras'. The race committee and support RIBs set excellent beats and start lines that kept the fleet on their toes.

This, allied to excellent communications overall, kept everyone in the picture. Neither were the committee phased when a club fixed-mark escaped and drifted away; substituting a RIB to allow the racing to continue. Race results were texted ashore to the race office team of Mike and Liz Masters who had the results checked and posted by the time the crews came ashore.... all of which made the event feel very slick and professional.

Not only was the racing excellent but the social scene for such a small club, was exceptional. Club barman and chef, Ali Davies, produced "phenomenal phood" throughout the 4 days - ranging from robust cooked breakfasts for all boats' crews, packed lunches and amazing evening meals - including a massive seafood paella. The bar was "quite busy'" too! Appropriately, all the people who made the event possible were generously thanked at the prize-giving, including the sponsors of Saville's Estate Agents and Cambrian Marine, Aberaeron. However, the highest praise was saved for Mark Willis who led and co-ordinated the efforts of the NQYC sailing committee to arrange the spectacle.

On the water, the Fulmars revelled in the blustery conditions, rarely even having to shorten sail and powering majestically through the surf. It was a one-sided affair in that respect with an expertly-sailed 'Rodmar' (Chris Willis)) taking the bullet in all 6 races, thereby running away with the overall event, the Irfon Jones Cup and the title of 'Westerly Fulmar National Champions 2019'. 'Cara of Menai' (Martin Seal) was runner-up and a valiant effort by 'True Companion' (Rees-Tom Jones) put them third, ahead of Moonrise.

The Lift-Keel Nationals were a closer affair with Katabatic (First Class 8 - Mark Willis) and Brainstorm (Super Seal 26 - Chris Seal), vying for the scraps left by Rodmar. These two were hotly followed by Sprite (Hawk 20 - Crawford McLeary) and Gelert (Super Sea l- Carl Rich). The result went to the wire and the last race was the decider. Brainstorm, with slightly better overall results, chased Katabatic hard and finished close enough behind to win on corrected time, thereby winning the inaugural Welsh Lift-Keel Cruiser Nationals and collecting the Admirals' Cup (note the different spelling!). Brainstorm also won overall on NHC and took a prize for the most impressive broach! The Best Dressed Crew prize was won by 'Team Sprite'.

Overall, the event was a 'ma-hoosive' success and the club should be commended for making it so.

It also proves that sailing in the far-flung, outer regions of the country has some life left in it yet. Accordingly, NQYC plan to run the event annually in future - but over three days. If enough boats in Wales show an interest, a Sports Boat and Hawk/Day Boat Class may be added.

Diolch yn Fawr i pawb

Overall Results - IRC:

1RodmarFulmarChris Willis/Caroline Smith/Jonathan Abrahams/ Cherry Davidson and most of the Andy Evans family 4.75
2BrainstormSuper SealChris Seal, Andy Lowe, Niall Thomas, Rhod Evans, Ben Davies 10.25
3KatabaticFC 8Mark Willis, Sam Coles, Rachel Malcove, Owen Rees, James Willis 15.5
4Cara of MenaiFulmarMartin Seal, Jon Simpson, Tim Dyson, Emlyn Owen, Mark Rees 19.5
5SpriteHawk 20Crawford McLeary, Steve Wood, Ian Jennings 22.75
6True CompanionFulamrRees Tom Jones, Justyn and Evie Jones, Emyr and Hefin Davies, Carys May Llewelyn 28

Overall Results - NHC:

1. Brainstorm
2. Rodmar
3. Katabatic
4. Sprite
5. Gelert

Fulmar Nationals:

1. Rodmar
2. Cara of Menai
3. True Companion

Admirals' Cup (Welsh Lift-Keel Cruiser Nationals):

1. Brainstorm
2. Katabatic
3. Sprite

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