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Waszp Ullswater Daffodil Virtual Regatta

by Joe Pester, Willow the Waszp 2520 1 May 2020 10:12 BST 25-26 April 2020
Waszp Ullswater Daffodil Virtual Regatta © WASZP UK

Last weekend should have seen the UK Waszp fleet gathering in the beautiful Lake District for their first meeting of the season at Ullswater Yacht Club's Daffodil Regatta, but of course all travel is off at this difficult time - even for flying boats... But WASZPs are highly sociable creatures so the class decided to hold a virtual meeting using Virtual Regatta for the racing and a group video conference for chatting.

A mixed entry of 17 men, women and children signed up and didn't travel to the event from as far afield as Scotland, England's south & east coasts and Wales. Some of the runners and riders had previous form in this style of regatta - Hattie Rogers, Zac Blomeley, Sam Whaley, Paul McCombie and myself recently took part in an eWaszp global regatta organised by our wonderful boat builder in which Paul came out as top gun!

Hello's and catch ups were enjoyed on the video chat before it was time to start the first day's 3 races. Battle was to take place in the amazing foiling F50's from SailGP fame, even more appropriate now Waszp is linked to that series providing youth pathways to stardom and exciting support races for the spectator crowds. The chosen virtual sailing area mirrored the Lake District that weekend being mountainous and sunny with gusts and shifts so the scene was set.

Race 1 saw the formbook showing true with Paul taking line honours ahead of Sam and top Waszp sailor with a cheeky smile James Gray. Noah Rees made a guest appearance and bagged a good 4th place while the father and son battle between Iain and Ross Ferguson went the way of the youngster. Duncan Hepplewhite our much loved Waszp importer & distributor had his best race of the event, nice to see Emma Hepplewhite entered too rather than working hard behind the scenes as usual. Race 2 saw a reversal at the top as Sam took the line ahead of Paul with Hattie 3rd. Rachael Jenkins put in her best performance of the event and Melissa Wellbourn, normally a Waszp Mum/Support Team took to the water too enjoying some high speed foiling in over 20 knots of (virtual) wind! Race 3 saw Adam Raeburn-James tearing up the form book by grabbing the lead and keeping it till the finish to take a superb victory! James came in 2nd and Iain was 3rd to spice up the family battle!

So after some great battles and fun sailing the overnight standings were Sam leading by just 1 point from James with Paul only 1 point behind him - really close and all to play for on the second day as it would be for Family Ferguson being seperated by only 3 points in Dad's favour! Class Secretary and Waszp Queen (current Women's UK National Champion) Victoria Payne was the most consistant sailor of the day finishing in the same position every time!

Just like real Waszp events the racing was highly inclusive with all ages, abilities and experiences taking part and having fun. There was much laughter heard across the 'water' along with many penalty whistle blows and associated banter! After the races was typically realistic too with the (video) chat and fun going on into the early hours as the fleet enjoyed being 'back together'...

Day 2 dawned with great virtual conditions again and the shock revelation during pre race video chat that one of the competitors was 'sailing' in a Union Jack miniskirt! Those who know the class well will probably be able to guess who it was...! Races then got under way with most competitors glad the discard was kicking in as most had at least one whoopsie needing to be got rid of...

Paul was straight back on the pace and won Race 4 with Sam 2nd and Hattie 3rd. Philip Ewart rocketed up the results so whatever night time training he'd done seemed to have paid off! Race 5 saw Sam going Gold again ahead of Iain who put in a top performance to grab Silver and pull away from son Ross a little in the standings. James claimed Bronze keeping him in the running for overall victory. Going into the last race it was Sam leading on 6 points from Paul on 9 and James on 12, Family Ferguson were only a few points apart too so it was still all up for grabs! At the final start the 3 title contenders were all at the sharp end, James narrowly led around the first mark with Paul hot on his heels only for disaster to strike with a virtual gear failure making his connection drop him out of the race! James streaked away as he often does at real Waszp events but Sam was chasing him down from 2nd place and there were some sizable shifts and gusts giving opportunities... Coming into the last lap Sam caught and passed James then screamed across the finish line at over 40 (virtual) knots to take victory! James 2nd and Adam getting another medal finish in 3rd with Andy Marshall saving his best till last and racking up a great 4th place! Melissa & Victoria also got their best results in this last one so practice seems to make perfect in virtual sailing racing just as in the real thing.

So at the virtual prize-giving it ended up being in 3rd place Paul, 2nd James and 1st Sam despite being OCS in one race having to battle through the field!

In the Ladies Fleet it was Rachael 3rd, Victoria 2nd, and Hattie 1st!

Youth Fleet was convincingly won by Ross who impressed greatly by being able to remain happy and smiling at all times!

Congratulations and applause were given over the video chat, good fun having been had by all, you could say the Waszps were buzzing as usual... We really enjoyed this and think it has valuable benefits especially in the current circumstances in terms of skills practice/reinforcement and social interaction - would thoroughly recommend it to all clubs, classes and shipmates.

More WASZP virtual events and a series to come, stay safe and happy all, hope to see you on the water or virtual water soon!

Overall Results:

1stSam WhaleySwanage SCT2 223621‑52117
2ndJames GrayStokes Bay SC25193‑4243214
3rdPaul McCombieSt Andrews SCStinger 252412715(DNC)16
4thAdam Raeburn‑JamesDatchet SCSplat 26105‑7174320
5thHattie RogersRLymYCWendy 2698‑73436622
6thIain FergusonBlithfield SCFast n Furious 2616‑95382523
7thAndy MarshallDalgety Bay SCBlackJack 2436(DNC)6957431
8thRoss FergusonBlithfield SCNeed For Speed 27046866‑9733
9thJoe PesterUllswater YCWillow The Waszp 25208108118(DNC)45
10thPhilip EwartDerwent Reservoir SC#neeinvite 158810‑1212910950
11thVictoria PayneHayling Island SCWaszp Queen 2388111111‑12111054
12thRachael JenkinsBowmoor SC (DNC)91010DNCDNC65
13thMelissa WellbournCarsington SCGuardian Angel 1234(DNC)DNFDNF1312869
14thNoah Rees  4(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNC76
15thDuncan HepplewhiteLoch Lomond SCSailingfast 290012(DNF)13DNCDNCDNC79
16thEmma HepplewhiteSailingfast SCRed Riot 1234(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNCDNC90
16thZac BlomeleyPlas Heli SCKristoff 2263(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNCDNC90

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