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Noble Marine 2020 - LEADERBOARD

Cardigan Bay Regatta 2019 at New Quay

by Chris Seal 29 Aug 2019 06:59 BST 22-24 August 2019
Dinghies under the original Milk Wood during the Cardigan Bay Regatta © Pete Thomas

The 145th version of one of the oldest sailing events in the country served up a delicacy of superb sailing and family fun in one of the most picturesque and unspoilt venues in the world.

Being a 'Town' Regatta', pier head starts were the order of the day but whilst these can be a novelty for some sailors these days, it is funny how the canny ones still seem to get to the front!

The feeder race from Aberystwyth was won by Christine Willis in 'Rodmar', having just returned from the Welsh IRC Championships at Pwllheli, where she was first in class. Second was Mark Willis in 'Katabatic' and third, Nigel Howes in 'Moonrise'.

During the next 2 days the racing was intense and close and after some early greyness, was held under cloudless skies. Overall, the light winds favoured the smaller boats. and once again we had the company of a large family of dolphins as spectators. The term most often heard in the bar was 'champagne sailing'; which just about sums it up!

A varied selection of courses - with good beats - was set by the race officers - Dr Phillip Thomas and George Legg - and their supportive race committee. The 'support' RIBs were kept busy moving the dinghy marks around and they were most severely tested on the Friday, when a gradual but complete 360 degree wind-shift made life 'interesting'. Race results were expertly dealt with by the race office team led by Mike and Liz Masters.

For the cruisers on IRC, it appeared a one-sided affair with the well-sailed 'Katabatic' (Mark Willis) winning all 4 races, thereby running away with the event. But it was not clear cut - in all 4 races Katabatic was closely shadowed by 'Brainstorm' (Chris Seal) but the latter couldn't quite keep in touch in the light breezes leaving Brainstorm to settle for second overall. Third was Steve Berry in 'Bobble', who throughout the 2 days, had a see-saw tussle with Crawford McCleary in 'Sprite'. Coming a creditable 5th was the RAFSA contingent in 'Gelert', led by Carl Rich. 'Gelert' was enjoying her first full regatta in many years and it was good to see three Super Seals on the water; the third being 'Cadenza', helmed by Justyn Jones and Tillie James (recently Women's FX49 National Champion). In the Fulmar fleet, 'Cara of Menai' (Martin Seal) would have had the best of 'Rodmar' if he had not had to count a DSQ for missing a downwind gate. Good racing!

In the dinghy fleet, silverware was spread about a little more liberally but when it counted most, the hugely experienced Ian Willis (South Staffs SC and NQYC) shone out and won the regatta overall to receive the Christine Seal Trophy. Ian also won the trophy for Best Master and it showed how skilled and resilient is this ex-GP14 World Champion. However, it was not 'all plain sailing' for Ian and he was pushed hard by Jon Heissig in an RS400 (Llangorse SC) on Day 3, Christian Smart (D-Zero, Pembroksehire YC), Duncan Lloyd-Evans (Laser, NQYC), Eliot Rose (RS K1, Bartley Green SC) and Simon Turnbull (Contender, Neyland YC). Incidentally, Ian is no relation to Christine or Mark but all 3 'Willis' namesakes appear rather regularly on the many trophies and in the annals of the Cardigan Bay Regatta!

Best junior (Under 21) was won by Duncan Lloyd-Evans the best 'Lady' helm was Catherine Gray (Laser Radial, NQYC) and 'most improved U21', was her brother, Morgan Gray (RS Feva XL, NQYC).

Overall, the event was a delight - both to watch and one in which to take part. We hope that everyone will return next year and that many more will join them.

This prestigious, family-orientated, town regatta, along with the more cruiser-racing focused NQYC Keelboat Week/Admirals' Cup, proves that water-sports are alive and kicking in this distant outpost of the country and that running big sailing/inshore events in tidal harbours, with no marina facilities, is entirely feasible, if sometimes tricky. Long may they continue.

Next year's event is on the 23-25th Aug 2020. Please put it in your calendar and come along.

Overall Results:

1KatabaticFC 8Mark Willis, Sam Coles, Rachel Malcove, Doug Lloyd-Haynes, James Willis, Ceri Knapgate4
2BrainstormSuper SealChris Seal, Andy Lowe, Simon Earle, Ben Davies, Steffan Seal8
3BobbleHawk 20Steve Berry, Peter Heard, Steffan and Llinos Williams19
4SpriteHawk 20Crawford McLeary, Steve Wood, Kat Dawes20
5GelertSuper SealCarl Rich, David Stubbs and Joe Litten21
1Ian WillisGP14South Staffs/NQYC5
2Christian SmartDevoti D‑ ZeroPembrokeshire YC11
3Duncan Lloyd EvansLaser RadialNQYC15
4Eliot RoseK1Bartley Green SC23
5Simon TurnbullContenderPYC25

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