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Shearwater TT Round 6 at Weston Sailing Club

by Sam Vaughan 1 Oct 2019 09:38 BST 28-29 September 2019
Shearwater TT at Eston © James Wilmott

Nine Shearwaters braved the wind and rain to compete in the final of the 2019 Travellers Trophy. With the top step of the podium filled, second through to sixth were very much available to be filled by the massed Shearwater family.

Weston SC did admit that on Thursday evening they were nervous that the event would even take place, and certainly the fleet rigging up on Friday evening were giving less than favourable noises about sailing on Saturday, So Shearwater sailors did what they do best after sailing and that is hitting the bar for some post working week relaxing drinks.

Saturday morning dawned and the wind was in. Well most of the camping masses knew this before getting out of bed as tents, caravans and campers were wobbling... a lot along with some legs.

The first race was under way in 20 knots with gusts of 25knots+. The fleet all punched out to the left hand side of the course. The shortness of the course allowed for the majority of the fleet to stay within close proximity of each other. SoTango sailed by James Gibbons & Elizabeth Hill were leading as they had done so many times before this year, in close pursuit were Cajensa (Sam Vaughan & Oliver Stuart) the leaders reached off to the wing mark and Jessabelle (Mark Norman & Rob Britton) following. The two lead boats kept a little higher to find a little more pressure with Jessabelle going for a more direct course closed the gap and managed to hoist earlier for a cruise down the rhumb line to the bottom mark. SoTango and Cajensa slid a gybe in and having sailed a slightly hotter angle arrived at little further ahead at the bottom mark. The short next beat did not allow for any place changing it was the downwind legs that allowed for the real gains to be made. On the next downwind SoTango managed to get further ahead with riding a big gust and held onto take the win followed by Cajensa and Jessabelle.

Race two, similar wind maybe more. To be honest it was bl**dy windy all day! The majority of the fleet punched left again as this had paid on the first race, National champions, Nigel & Sarah Stuart sailing Crowns went right. Did they have some local knowledge? Arriving at the first windward was SoTango with Crowns and Cajensa in quick succession. The top reach was fast, furious and crews really came into there own as water deflectors for the helms! Carbon Footprint (Shaun & Alex Allen) sailed a mighty reach to come into contact with the leaders, that deck sweeper mainsail again! If you have read the reports for the past events this year, you will know that Carbon Footprint can be mighty fast with their deck sweeper mainsail to much annoyance of the rest of the fleet! The downwind allowed SoTango and Cajensa to get away to the leeward mark. The following short upwind leg allowed the fleet to compact with some massive gusts that certainly shook the cobwebs out of any rigging. The final downwind allowed Crowns to catch up and take third place which they held to the finish, allowing Cajensa into second and SoTango the victory.

The final, or at least we thought of the day Crowns, Cajensa and SoTango were in close combat for the first beat, all arriving at the windward mark within a boat length of each other. The reach allowed a little more separation between the first and third. With SoTango getting slightly ahead followed by Crowns and Cajensa. The three boats sailed down the run in parallel with each other, matching speeds and angles and who would drop or gybe first. Watching out for a gust was key as this would push you well beyond the lay line. Cajensa dropped first and gybed allowing a nice approach to the bottom mark, SoTango followed with Crowns having pushed they lay line into third. The next upwind the trio in the lead pushed hard with Carbon Footprint and Airflow sailed this weekend by class legend and the tallest man to ever sail a Shearwater, Greg Wilcox & Nick Winram in close pursuit. The final downwind all the podium places were available for the taking, and SoTango held onto the lead followed by Cajensa and Crowns.

Now with heart rates high, and the thought of any more racing today firmly at the bottom of the to do list, the Race officer correctly called for a fourth race ahead of the doom which Sunday could bring, Again with a similar theme to the previous races, the fleet punched firmly to the left, Cajensa having started at the committee boat end, had a great leg to be ahead at the windward mark, with Airflow not far behind, Airflows, Greg the yacht sailor full time had not lost his touch he just needed to find it! Cajensa powered off on the reach to be ahead at the gybe mark, with a keep it simple approach the kite went up and the others followed, At the leeward mark, Crowns was tussling with Airflow and SoTango. The pressure had certainly boiled to a point with James & Elizbeth that they decided to allow SoTango to let them have a little swim, which turned into a big swim, which turned into a hull full of water due to a mis fitted hatch cover. Cajensa held there nerve seeing the carnage behind and held for the victory with Crowns into second and Foreigner sailed by Alex Wilcox and Elias Woodward into third.

With sailing done for the day, the fleet returned to the relative shelter of the beach to lick the wounds of the day and tell the stories of battle. And of course help James and Elizabeth bail there boat out. The evening, well actually late afternoon celebrations started with the 14th and 50th Birthdays of Hayley Britton and Lou Curry. With the first and many bottles of fizz opened the massed Shearwater family celebrated the 50th Wedding Anniversary of Class President Alan Howland to his wife Jan who both are owed a huge amount of thanks from all in the class. Firstly their three children are a huge part of the fleet who have produced nine grandchildren who are now helming Shearwaters, crewing Shearwaters or are aspiring to follow the footprints of there parents and cousins to sail Shearwaters. Secondly Alan for being Charmian for many years and now President for driving the class forward. Jan can not be forgotten in allowing many a parent to sail by watching children on the beach and campsite for many years. Jan could have been a top Shearwater crew herself if she had not jumped off Alan's Shearwater in Lagos many years ago... We shall never know!

The Shearwater family celebrated into the small hours only to be woken by extreme wind and camping equipment shaking. Sunday dawned with much of the same, wind and lots of it with lashing rain too. The class elected to remember what a great days sailing yesterday had been and stayed on the beach, the other classes somewhat depleted decided to go for two short races, and with two dismastings and multiple capsizes the correct decision had been made. With the races technically ran, Cajensa came out on top, from Crowns and SoTango in third.

The 2019 Travellers Trophy Series is now complete, the winner clearly is Crowns sailed by Nigel & Sarah Stuart who have sailed brilliantly to win the Nationals too. Who fills the rest to the TT series remains a close secret until the Mid-Winter Dinner in February next year. Well Done to Nigel & Sarah.

If the joining the Shearwater family is of interest please contact us, a range of good boats are available for low prices and anybody is more than welcome to join the friendliest small catamaran fleet. If buying a boat is a stretch too much or you would like to have a go, there are always Helms looking for Crews or Crews looking for Helms, contact us and we can accommodate you!

Roll on 2020!

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