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Pwllheli Sailing Club Spring Series - Weekend 1

by Vicky Cox 5 May 07:12 BST 1-2 May 2021
Preparing for the Pwllheli Sailing Club Spring Series © Sam Kitteringham

On a weekend that received the sad news of the cancellation of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta 2021, it was a very positive start to both the Pwllheli Sailing Club Spring Series and the MUSTO ISORA season.

Saturday saw the first MUSTO ISORA race of the season, a Welsh coastal race run in conjunction with Pwllheli Sailing Club's Spring Series and sponsored by Plas Heli - the Welsh National Sailing Academy and Events Centre.

The race officer set a course from the PSC start line, westbound to PSC race mark number 1 before heading through the St. Tudwalls sound. The course then headed out to the Causeway cardinal buoy before returning to the Plas Heli finish line.

In recognition of the light forecast, the Covid protocol requirement for racing to finish in daylight and the fact that this was the first outing since the start of lockdown for many, provision was made to shorten the course at a line due west of St. Tudwall West lighthouse. The course would be shortened in the event of the leading boat not making the line at the islands by 11:35.

Winds at the start were very light and all boats were well clear of the start line when the gun went. Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox's Mojito led the fleet coming in at the pin end with code 0 set. They were lucky not to be pushed out by Jackknife who launched their A2 and were focused on mark number 1.

All boats were relatively short handed, adhering to the 80% crew limit and social distancing that we are all now accustomed to. Jac y Do racing double handed, chose to try and capitalise on the strong tide along the beach and started further inshore off Gimblet rock. They managed to hold their code zero to Abersoch but were unable to keep the height needed and had to change to jib in order to return to the rhumb line.

With light airs, it was a very gentle sail to mark number 1 led by Mojito all the way and closely followed by Jackknife. Once round the mark the winds became very patchy and shifty making it a challenge for the reduced crew numbers to keep up with sail changes. Jackknife changed to jib to regain height lost with the A2 while Mojito managed to hold a course roughly in the direction of the islands with the code 0 until a big wind shift and failing winds. They too went to jib briefly, before trying again with the zero, pulling away from the fleet.

With wind anywhere between 3 and 6kts it was nail bitingly close to the cut off time. At 6kts, Mojito may just make it round the islands but with winds dropping and swirling in the sound, the leading boat failed to cross the cut off line before 11:35 and the course was shortened. Mojito rounded the islands first with a big lead but when winds dropped to 0.8kts behind the islands their heading took them away from the rhumb line, allowing Jackknife to take the lead with kite up and wind filling in behind them.

It looked like Jackknife had the race in the bag until nearer to the finish where wind bends, wind holes and strong down drafts from the odd rain cloud saw Mojito and Jackknife tussle for position closing in on the finish line. In the end Jackknife took line honours followed just minutes later by Mojito as wind strengths increased to 13kts.

In a day with very light winds it was bizarre to see Jac y Do and Paul Kitteringham's Elan 350 - 'Finally', with kites up in the 20kt squall, battling closely to the finish line.

Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox's Mojito took 1st overall and class 1, Andrew Hall's J125 - Jackknife, took 1st in class 0 but had to settle for 3rd place overall as 2nd was taken by Mark & Jo Thompson's Sunfast, Jac y Do, also taking 1st in class 2.

The PSC spring series continued on Sunday with winds forecast to be equally light but it was evident first thing in the morning that there was a fresh wind. Out in the bay, SSW winds were anything from 9 to 22kts. Race officer, Robin Evans set a shorter first race to ensure everyone got settled into racing, which kept the fleet together for a swift turn around for the second race.

Jackknife were eager to improve on the 3rd place of the previous day and got a good start, which they maintained throughout the race. Peter & Vicky's Mojito had obviously celebrated their previous win a little too hard and a few errors saw them cross the line behind Jackknife on the first race and having to give room to Paul Kitteringham's Elan 350 - Finally at the first mark but once they had settled in they managed to make up sufficient ground on Jackknife to take first place by just 15 seconds.

However, Mojito's errors continued in the second race, seeing the whole fleet pass them in the start line. They managed to get ahead of Avril Banks's Sigma - Quattro on the upwind leg and a lack of kite by Finally on the downwind legs saw Mojito pass them too and by the finish, Mojito managed to recover for a second place behind Jackknife.

Race results were discussed over refreshments on the deck outside Plas Heli with picturesque views across Tremadog Bay to the Snowdonia range. Covid protocols continued to be adhered to with venue check in for track and trace, hand sanitizer stations, masks indoors and social distancing in place but enabled prizes from the ISORA 2020 series to finally be distributed to the winning skippers.

Mojito currently lead the current series but there is plenty of time for changes on the leader board with two more full weekends left - 15th&16th and 29th,30th&31st May. Full results can be found on the club web site, and on the ISORA website,

ADVANCE NOTICE: Tremadog Bay Pop-up Regatta 8th to 11th July 2021 run by Pwllheli Sailing Club. Watch this space for more information soon.

Anyone interested in joining racing in Pwllheli should contact

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