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CoastWaterSports 2014

GUL B14 TT Series at Brightlingsea Skiff Fest

by Mark Barnes 15 Oct 06:54 BST 12-13 October 2019

It a case of daja vu, having had one big storm come through from the SW two weeks ago and decimate many events, and those that went ahead, were vastly reduced in numbers. Again this weekend was to prove the same as all classes were down for the event, which was a shame as Brightlingsea had put on a great show.

So a hard core of B14s rocked up to see what the weekend would hold. Would there be any wind on Saturday morning to go with the spring tides, and how much wind would be dished up on Sunday with the big weather front hitting the UK? Amongst the fleet were three ex multi-champion teams in Team GUL/North Sails 795 (Mark Barnes/Pete Nicholson (reunited for the last hoorah of the GUL B14 TT season 2019), 774 (Dave Hayes/Sean Dwyer) and Blue Badge 771 (Mike Bees/Ferrett).

Well the fleet launched on time into 4 - 6 knots of wind and drizzle. The breeze was to remain from the SW all day and drizzle persevere till the late night. Due to the reduced numbers across all fleets, the RS700s/Mustos went first and RS800s and B14s second, rather than the pre-arranged four starts.

So with a strong spring tide, some would be caught out and places would change as teams over stood, under stood and underestimated the tide.

Over the three races on day 1, Whacky Races commenced. Who would come out on top, the B14s or the RS800s. There was plenty of scrutineering of speed and position going on between the two fleets over the three races.

There was little to choose between the two fleets. Team GUL/North Sails led the charge being tested throughout by Torq (Gerry Fermor/Leaky Fermor), Blue Badge, 774 and 707 (Amir Shamsuddin/Neal). At the end what had we learned. The second group ripped in to the first group (very hard to sail in drizzle without a jib or tell tales) by the finish in all races and between the B14s and RS800s there was little to chose with the group racing boat on boat all day.

After some quick turn arounds by PRO Dave Gibbons ex B14 crew, the fleet headed to shore for tea and cake.

Overnight Team GUL/North Sails led with three bullets, followed by Blue Badge, Torq, 774 and 707.

Saturday evening Simon Redfearn and his team cooked up a great curry, one of the best I have had not cooked in an Indian restaurant with loads of trimmings, followed by traditional puddings. Just what was required after a day on the water in drizzle and light winds, followed by a trip to the Railway Tavern to catch up with B14 sailor and landlord Alex Capon.

Sunday dawned, weather websites were checked and the fleet headed to sea knowing that the wind was scheduled to build all day from the south. We were not to be disappointed as we set out we had 14 - 16 knots and building. As race 4 started in the same order, the B14s and 800s, set about establishing bragging rights (sportsman's bet the previous evening). At the start the 800s had the legs upwind, but the B14s led by 774 hung on. Now the breeze started to kick in and Team GUL/North Sails got inside and rolled 774 on the gybe with Blue Badge just behind taking it to the 800s. Throughout the race over 3 laps Team GUL/North Sails extended on the downwind legs sending it hard and leaving nothing behind with the front 3 mixing with the 800s and passing most 700s. At the finish the front 3 finished in this order

Race 5 and the foam-up starting to build, it would be a 2 lap race. Off the start the B14s and 800s fired upwind in the building chop, with each fleet heading either side of the flooding channel. At the windward mark now a force 5 with gusts and still building, as the fleets converged mixing with the back end 700. The 800s had shown their waterline advantage in the chop, but come the downwind and it would be manyana. As the breeze built, the B14s went deeper and as fast with some swimmers on the gybes but the front 3 B14s, Team GUL/North Sails, 774 and Blue Badge stayed upright and stretched their wings. By the end of the race Team GUL/North Sails had overtaken all bar two 700s followed by 774 and Blue Badge. On getting ashore a bit of banter was had with the 800s and 700s etc with all having had a great day on the water

Team GUL/North Sails had achieved a Hi Five (5 x 1sts, a first for either of the team) but been pushed all the way in turn by 774, Blue Badge and Torq and following these four home, 707 which as a new combination showed some good promise and completed all races.

The B14 fleet National TT series and some Nationals sponsored by GUL, starting at the Europeans in Rock in 2015, the association has come to an end after five seasons. As a class it has been great working with Mike Pickering and GUL to raise the profile of the fleet and GUL, and we wish Mike good health in his retirement and GUL in the future development and sales of their products, which most of the B14 TT fleet are now wearing on the water, partly financed by the generous tokens etc provided by GUL.

The fleet will next be out and about at the Selden Sailjuice Winter Series and Sailing SW events. With new B14s in build and the Worlds end of next year in Sydney Australia followed by Garda in 2022, the future looks bright for the class.

Overall Results:

1. Team GUL/North Sails GBR 795 - Mark Barnes/Pete Nicholson - Whitstable YC/Brightlingsea SC
2. Blue Badge GBR 771 - Mike Bees/Martin Worth (Ferret) - Brightlingsea SC
3. GBR 774 - Dave Hayes/Sean Dwyer - Whitstable YC/Worthing SC
4. Torq GBR 786 - Gerry Fermor/Leaky Fermor
5. GBR 707 - Amir Shamsuddin/Neal - King George SC

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