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Dinghy Shack National 12 Open at the Port of Plymouth Sailing Association Dinghy Regatta

by Jon Ibbotson 16 Jun 06:12 BST 12-13 June 2021
National 12s at the Port of Plymouth Sailing Association Dinghy Regatta © Paul Gibbins Photography

A small but perfectly formed - and tightly competitive - fleet of National 12s battled with the M4 & M5 traffic to be blessed with a weekend of glorious sailing in Plymouth Sound as part of Port of Plymouth Sailing Association's Dinghy Regatta 2021.

Tactical conditions were challenging for race 1, with the course being set in a complex tidal system at the confluence of the rivers Tamar and Plym and a variable gradient breeze still dominant over occasional early hints of sea breeze. Jon Ibbotson and Rachel Smith in Atomic Kitten made the best of the conditions to take the lead around the first mark, which they held to the finish, followed by Graham and Anya Camm in Very Hungry Caterpillar. The land breeze held long enough for the Race Officer, Dave Curno, to get all fleets away at the start of race 2, but the sea breeze soon began to make its presence felt, with the usual lottery in the convergence zone. Atomic Kitten had bought the lucky ticket, advancing from third to first on the penultimate leg, again followed home by Very Hungry Caterpillar. With the other regatta fleets now becalmed in the convergence zone, the National 12 fleet had plenty of time to eat their sandwiches in the sun and adjust their clothing choices whilst the sea breeze stabilised and built.

Races 3 and 4 were an altogether more lively affair with some fast planing down the well-set reaches and even a bit of surfing on the wakes of the larger motor craft also playing in the sound. Atomic Kitten again took the gun in race 3 but this time from Kevin Iles and Katy Meadowcroft in Snagglepuss. In race 4, with some crews thinking about de-powering in the strongest conditions of the weekend, Ollie Meadowcroft and Sophie Edwards in DB Cooper showed the fleet a clean pair of heels and led from start to finish.

More wall-to-wall sunshine was the order of the day for Sunday. With a steady 7-10 knot gradient breeze back in charge for race five, Very Hungry Caterpillar shot off to leave the other boats with some tight racing for the minor places, with DB Cooper prevailing. As the morning wore on, the gradient breeze was at first destabilised, and then reinforced by a sea breeze effect. The net result was that the start of race six was very much in a period of instability, with the wind shifting and dropping away so that the ebb from the Tamar pushed the fleet rapidly down towards the pin end of a very short line. Atomic Kitten was first to see the danger and gybed out back towards the committee boat, with the other boats getting embroiled with each other and failing to clear the pin. Very Hungry Caterpillar also made an early move to the right hand side of the course, into the new wind, to take their second race win of the day.

The final race saw some extremely close fully powered-up racing up the first beat in the now quite lively breeze, with all 4 boats arriving at the windward mark within a few boat lengths. DB Cooper rounded first and managed to work away into a slightly less than comfortable lead on the first reach. Very Hungry Caterpillar eventually made the most of the planing reaches on lap 3 to work up to take second. However, this wasn't enough to stop Atomic Kitten taking the overall win.

Overall Results:

1 N3540 Atomic Kitten, Jon Ibbotson & Rachel Smith
2 N3530 Very Hungry Caterpillar, Graham & Anya Camm
3 N3543 DB Cooper, Ollie Meadowcroft & Sophie Edwards
4 N3527 Snagglepuss, Kevin Iles & Katy Meadowcroft

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