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Craftinsure 2021 - LEADERBOARD

Byte National Championship 2021 at the Plas Heli Welsh National Sailing Academy

by John Saunders 4 Aug 09:59 BST 24-26 July 2021
Byte Nationals at Pwllheli © John Saunders

Things have not been easy for the sailing community recently with Covid closing sailing clubs and open events being cancelled but over the weekend of July 24-26 the Byte Class met up at Pwllheli for their 2021 National Championships.

The last championships were sailed in South Wales at Mumbles S.C. two years ago where the sky was grey and the wind blew. How different the conditions were this year in North Wales with three days of wall to wall sunshine and mostly light corkscrew winds. A slightly reduced field of 17 sailors were entered and on Saturday morning they rigged in the boat park while a strong odour of factor 50 drifted on the warm air.

The event was shared with the Javelin Class, at 18', something of a contrast to the diminutive Bytes and they were wheeled down the beach first. Soon both classes launched off through the shallows and out to the race course. The light variable winds made it difficult for the race officer to establish a suitable line but eventually the fleet were away for race 1 with a light wind and lumpy sea making tricky conditions for the sailors. The race was won by Louis Saunders (Combs S.C) who was followed home by Ryan Bush (Bristol Corinthian) and Zoe Bazen (Bowmoor S.C.). Louis is a Multiple Byte Champion and Ryan was a former hot teenager returned to the class after a few years and very much on form. Zoe was also very much in the mix even after the enforced Covid break. Unfortunately due to the light winds only one race was sailed on the Saturday and crews returned to shore.

The sun still shone on a beautiful evening as we looked out over Cardigan Bay to distant Snowdonia and tucked into a hog roast while drinking a little local beer (soft drinks for the younger members)! The great thing about the Byte Class is that the boat is designed for the lighter sailor be they female, male,senior or youth. This gives close fierce racing in fast dynamic boats and a great friendly social life. The racing fleet is split evenly between male and female both with even chances of success,

On Sunday unfortunately the wind gods had not appeared overnight and therefore there was a delay to racing in the morning. Finally after bacon butties had been consumed the Race Officer summoned the sailors out to the race course. This was to be a tricky feat with little wind to propel them out of the bay and waves pushing them back in! With some artificial propulsion they eventually made it to the race course, where fortunately there was a rather more wind. The second race began with the officer trying to find a decent line which he eventually did and the fleet sailed off eventually to be won by Ryan from Louis followed by Zoe.

Louis took race 3 from Zoe with Richard Whitehouse (Combs) third. The fleet had hit a massive shift mid race which mixed everything up sending the back of the fleet to the front and the front of the fleet to... who knows where? However things sorted out giving the win to Louis chased home by Zoe and Richard.

After the second race the Race Officer postponed for half an hour to allow the wind to fill in. Half an hour later with a new course laid the Javelin's 5 minute bell went. Before the 4 minute bell had arrived the wind had picked up considerably and swung 180 degrees... the race was postponed again and the course re-laid for a second time. Finally they were off and race 3 provided strong winds and a good swell, much to the excitement of the sailors that they could actually use their toestraps for the first time that weekend! However Rick took off with great experience and boat speed leading all other competitors and was chased home by Louis in second and Ryan in third. A great win for the Class Chairman!

Now the long beat back in strengthening winds and the long drag up the beach.

Still the sun shone and a van was dispatched for vast quantities of fish and chips which were enthusiastically consumed. It is a frequently noted fact that Byte sailors, despite their comparatively small size, are able to consume considerably more food than any Finn sailor! Anyway another brilliant happy evening.

Monday dawned with real wind and the fleet sailed out to greet it. Louis started badly and seemed to collect some weed on his rudder, Victoria Theaker (Combs SC) chose her own side up the beat ending in second place after Ryan with Bryn Abendstern (Toddbrook SC) third. Louis trailed home in fifth.

Louis had to win the final race in order to fully clinch his victory and he set off after a great start to do just that leading from start to finish with an ever increasing margin with Ryan in second and Rick third.

Despite the vagaries of the wind the sun had shone and a great time had been had by all with close competition from all the sailors. Louis Saunders took his 6th nationals win but had been chased home by Ryan Bush on his return to the class and the rapid Zoe Bazen as fastest lady.Veteran Richard Whitehouse made it into fourth and Toby Banbrook became Junior Champion. All this goes to indicate the variety of the class sailors.

I am sure we would all like to thank Class Chairman Richard Whitehouse and Javelin Chairman Neil Reid for organising this great event as well as Plas Heli for their management and Hartley Boats for their generous prizes.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1st3573Louis SaundersCombs1212‑517
2nd3581Ryan BushBristol Corinthian21‑43129
3rd3588Zoe BazenBowmoor33244‑716
4th3693Richard WhitehouseCombs‑87318322
5th3716Victoria TheakerCombs‑116562524
6th1626Bryn AbendsternToddbrook44‑953824
7th3703Emma RobertsonSwarkstone756‑86630
8th3559Toby BanbrookBowmoor58‑121071040
9th3252Kate Fox‑DaviesCombs610‑111110441
10th1625Alex HorsmanRipon1091079‑1445
11th1490Alexandra BowdenCombs911813‑14950
12th843Eddy ReidGlossop131279‑161152
13th356Sam Fewings?owmoor12‑141412131263
14th3591Matthew English?owmoor171316(DNF)111370
15th2956Esther Heathcote?owmoor‑16151314151572
16th1465Samuel CannellWest Oxfordshire15‑161516121674
17th1640Aimee Bulkes?owmoor14‑171715171780

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