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British Keelboat League Final Qualifier in Plymouth - Day 2

by Lynn Billowes 24 Jul 2019 13:29 BST 20-21 July 2019
2019 British Keelboat League Final Qualifier © Event Media

The youthful team of Torpoint Mosquito Sailing Club displayed excellent grit and resilience to turn fourth at the end of day one into first to secure their place in the British Keelboat League Final.

The penultimate British Keelboat league Qualifier took place on the 20th and 21st July in the sublime waters of Jennycliff Bay which is overlooked by the maritime city of Plymouth. Royal Western Yacht Club were the hosts for the weekend and 11 teams saw their keelboat skills challenged, duelling the RS21 on the sprint racecourse. Local knowledge has proven to be a key ingredient for success in previous qualifiers, so all eyes were on the teams who call Plymouth Sound their sailing home.


Saturday saw PRO, Mike Johnson and his fantastic team absolutely smash through the race schedule, with the first couple of races being held in around 8-12 knots, the breeze picked up to 10-15 knots and the sun broke through the drizzle. The breeze fluctuated through the day, with pressure filling in on either side of the course which kept the teams on their toes. Racing was incredibly tight, with RS21s stacked up three boats deep at some mark roundings. The breeze started to become more unstable throughout the afternoon and the focus shifted away from boat speed to nailing the right side of the shifts.

The Royal Torbay Yacht Club had a stunning start to their weekend, posting three 1st in the opening races of the regatta, a perfect start by James Clapham and his crew. The Royal Ocean Racing Club team were the next to add a win to their points total, finishing 1st in race 4, building on the second place they achieved in race three.

After 14 races and a fantastic day on the water, the sailors were greeted with a BBQ and cold beer as they came ashore. Within minutes of being back the results were published on the notice board and the teams eagerly started making plans of attack on the water tomorrow. The chat soon digressed to lessons learnt on the water, with teams sharing tips and settings for the RS21s.

A special mention has to go to the Horizons Plymouth team who gave it there all on the racecourse throughout the weekend. Horizons Plymouth is a local Children's Sailing Charity who inspire eight to 18-year-olds into our sport. Lois from the charity said "A lot of the children who come sailing with us do not have the opportunities to get out on the water. This is generally through physical, social, or financial issues, so for Jack and Harrison to be able to compete in such a prestigious and well-known event was an amazing achievement for them!

For Simon and I, it was great to see the boys change from very nervous and scared on day one, to confident and excited on day two. This was proved with the addition of the spinnaker on the second day!

Thank you ever so much for all the brilliant organisation and for letting us be a part of the event. The boys (and Simon and I) will remember this for years to come and hopefully, this will inspire them to continue with racing in the future!"

Thinking ahead, with light winds forecasted on Sunday morning the PRO posted a change to the SIs delaying the start by 30 minutes which was well received by sailors. Leading overnight was local team Royal Western Yacht Club Conyers, closely followed by the Royal Navy Sailing Association (RNSA).


The teams arrived at the club on Sunday morning to a light breeze and a grey backdrop over Plymouth Hoe, but as promised, the sun broke through the grey and the breeze started to build.

The RNSA was first out of the blocks on the start line and lead Royal Ulster Yacht Club (RUYC) to the finish. But the RUYC team provided the perfect riposte to race 15, by clinching their first win of the weekend in race 16. Helmsman Ben Webb was delighted with the win and said, "We needed that" as it provided the team with a much-needed boost.

Saltash Sailing Club pulled together an excellent string of results in races 17, 18 and 19, posting two firsts and seconds. However, in an impressive display of determination, the Torpoint Mosquito team posted a 1st, 2nd, 1st in the final three races of the event to edge their way ahead of the Royal Torbay Yacht Club and Saltash Sailing Club.

Winning team member, Henry Marshall shared his thoughts from the weekend "We closed the weekend with some bullets praying that it was enough to pip the other teams to the post in what had been a very tight weekend of racing." Marshall also said, "It had been a very tight weekend of racing having seen place changes happening on every leg and on almost every mark, where even the smallest of mistakes could see you tumble through the rankings, and we had definitely suffered from that!"

Wonderful weekend's of racing like this don't happen without a small army of volunteers and supporting sponsors. Firstly a huge thanks to the Royal Western Yacht Club team of volunteers and race management team, led by Mike Johnson, for organising and executing the seamless event. A mention of thanks must also be extended to the British Keelboat League Sponsors; Kingfisher Yacht Ropes, A-Plan Insurance Brokers, MDL Marinas, PA Consulting, GJW Direct, Rooster,E Propulsion Bainbridge International and RS Sailing. Without whom, the event touring the UK to find the best keelboat team in the country would not be possible.

Keep up to date with everything BKL by visiting the website or following our social media channels on Facebook and Instagram.

The British Keelboat League is all about participation - whether you're battling it out at the front of the fleet or taking the first steps into competitive racing this event is open and accessible to all. With that thought in mind, the last opportunity to participate in this year's British Keelboat League qualifying series will be on the 7th and 8th September at the Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club. Click here to sign up.

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