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2021 Bart's Bash event and British Open Blokart Championships at Llanbedr Airfield, Wales

by Steve Harvey 30 Sep 2021 07:36 BST 11-12 & 18-19 September 2021
Steve Harvey during the 2021 British Open Blokart Championships © Nigel Owen

Two Weekends, Two Great Events

Bart's Bash - 11th & 12th September

2021 finally gave Kiwi Blokarts UK and the Central Blokart Club the opportunity to take part in The Andrew Simpson Foundation Bart's Bash event. Steve from Kiwi Blokarts UK has had this in mind for a few years, but things never quite worked out. However, as lockdown restrictions were eased it was on the agenda again. The publicised date also worked well as it would allow Blokart sailors the chance to get some tarmac sailing and racing done the weekend before the 2021 British Open Blokart Championships.

The plan was to camp at the Central Blokart Club venue just outside Buckingham and pick the best window of wind and weather over the weekend to get some good racing in. As the weekend got nearer the inevitable light winds started to fill the forecast but despite that we had sailors travel from Birmingham, Loughborough and Bristol. While the entry list remained at 5 we had hoped some sailors from other clubs may make the journey up to take part, but maybe they were earning 'leave points' for the following weekend so it stayed a small event for this year.

A course was set on Saturday as a simple windward leeward on the runway with a gate at the top and two gybe marks to be taken to port at the bottom, which gave an up and back straightline distance of approximately 1100 meters per lap, although there was a lot of tacking which added to that distance considerably. At the start of racing the breeze was blowing straight down the runway but throughout the day it swung left and right more often than a tennis ball at Wimbledon. This made things tricky and it was a case of working some huge wind shifts from lap to lap, but this also kept things interesting. It was good to see Chris travel up from Bristol for the day and despite not having raced for a few years he still showed his smooth style and initially was up there near front until one slowly deflating tyre hampered his chances for a good result. Even worse was the complete blowout he had not long after changing the first flat which meant he dropped a lap. Also holding his own was Martyn who always enjoys a good blast on the runway and this tricky day was no exception.

We declared a good afternoon of racing over as the wind started to drop, and the Saturday night BBQ was fired up and those staying onsite enjoyed a few burgers and beers before settling down and hoping the following days forecast was going change - but it didn't. Sunday was glorious but no wind!

A special thanks to our timekeepers Lorraine and Andy for keeping laps and times. It's because of your efforts we could race and you did an ace job!!

Central Blokart Club Bart's Bash event results:

PosPilot NameLapsCorrected Time (mins:sec)
1stSteve Harvey1048:28:00
2ndAlan Gibson1062:04:00
3rdMartyn Allport1065:21:00
4thPaul Farrow1067:06:00
5thChris Selway966:55:00

2021 British Open Blokart Championships - Llanbedr Airfield, Wales - 18th-19th Sept

For those in the know, Wales has one of those Blokart venues that every owner should sail at least once. Some of us have been lucky enough to sail there a number of times and it is always special.

So, with Llanbedr hosting the first post lockdown British Open this was a no brainer, get signed up and start making plans. Also a key point to any Blokart event is keep a close eye on the wind forecasts (read that as get hyped on the good ones and ignore the rubbish ones).

The plan - get there on Friday afternoon, making sure to get around Birmingham before 2pm and avoid the invariable northbound jam on the M6 on a Friday.

After a quick stop at the Telford Services to meet with another Central Blokart Club member we then headed off and duly arrived at Llanbedr having made good time without any incidents. At this point I feel I need to make a public service announcement - Telford Services is not the most friendly place to stop in a van towing a trailer. Let's just say the 4 spaces allotted for vehicles towing caravans/trailers were all full and we both ended up taking 6 normal spaces elsewhere in what was a very busy carpark.

Arriving in Llanbedr we stopped briefly at the layby on the hill overlooking the airfield. It's one of those magical places where if life was a movie you would step out of your vehicle and there would be perfect golden rays shining down on the airfield with some form of symphonic music playing and a 100 strong choir singing 'Hallelujah' in the background, with James Earl Jones or Samuel L. Jackson doing an amazing voice over. Alas, we didn't have that, but did have a clearish sky, green fields and the 'Baa' of the local sheep - nonetheless, it's still a special location to view the weekends playground.

Our usual 'in the hanger' campsite was due to be unavailable on the Friday night and we had been advised we may need to camp outside, but our esteemed Chairman managed to charm the previous crowd who were dragging their heels (actually it was gliders) away from inside the hanger at the pace of a ten year old boy who's been told to go and have a bath! Eventually the Blokart convoy that had assembled outside the gate managed to get into the hanger and commence setting up for the weekend. An evening breeze had built and a number of pilots got that look in their eyes and promptly rigged and went sailing. It's amazing how quickly the grass verge shoots out of the darkness as you sail down the runway at around 30mph while hoping to safely gybe before steaming off the end. There was mention of fitting lights and trying a night race at some point - not sure if that was a serious suggestion but would certainly add a new element to Blokart racing.

So on to the racing. Those forecasts I mentioned earlier, well just over a week before the event they were saying 10-14 gusting 20+ but this changed dramatically in the last few days before everyone arrived, leaving what can only be described as perfect conditions for sitting around and soaking up those golden rays.

Saturday morning dawned and it was time to go through registration and weigh in before getting ready for day one of racing. If only the weather hadn't been so nice! Wall to wall sunshine and only a teasing breeze that seemed to build enough to get everyone sailing before promptly dropping off again. There were several false attempts when a bit of breeze would build, people get keen and jump in karts and start sailing around and everything is looking good to go. The RO calls let's race and sure enough the wind promptly dies off again. In the end we only managed one solitary race for the Performance fleet on day one. At least we had the AGM in the evening to look forward to. Yes, it could have been a dull affair but with the Irish contingent present you knew there would be some stories to be told and they didn't disappoint. Oh and if you weren't there, after the meeting was concluded you missed a great curry and banter as well. Of course some pilots had warm accommodation offsite so didn't hang around for this and also missed the Rooster Raffle which was a good laugh. And then it started to rain!

Sunday, waking up in the hanger and peering out the doors showed it was still raining, but a sneak peek out to the runway and the view of two Blokart flags flying straight out meant there was at least wind. Time for some breakfast, a bit of bimbling with the kart and discussions about what extra kit to take out to the race area (specifically whether to take the 4m/3m sails or not) and things started to get the buzz of excitement. This might turn in to an opportunity to see how good the new Blokart branded tyres would be on a wet surface - and yes, they were fine. We're going racing!

Despite a forecast for similar winds to those we had on Saturday Llanbedr gave us the goods and delivered a full day of close competitive racing on a 2km triangular circuit using segments of all three runways. A total of 17 races were run back to back from 10am with the last race no later than 3pm, with Production and Performance Blokarts alternating their time on the track.

The Production fleet divisions sailed together and sure enough the lightweights were flying on the 5.5 meter sails and left everyone else to mix it up amongst themselves. There were some great tussles going on behind them and the ongoing battle in the middle weight division resulted in a good amount of cheering from the edge of the runway. Tim Seed and Martin Letters rekindled great racing form between themselves and continued almost as they left off last time they raced. However while they were swapping positions Nigel Owen (not the rugby referee) banked a great series of results to take the overall Middleweight win.

In the Performance fleet things were of course always tight on the start line and the pre-start shenanigans kept everyone on high alert with various options available, especially when the race officer switched course direction. This meant just when you had got the start dialled upwind you then had to work out time to line while accelerating downwind towards the start. For the most part everyone followed a standard line of attack and simply tried to have as much speed as possible when they hit the line. The trick was to decide whether to push for the front of the bunch and get away with clear air, or strategically hold back and come in a fraction behind the pack but carrying extra speed to thread a path through the bunch as they slowed one another up. Chris Moore was nailing the 'hit the line on time' option (although there was that one race...) to set himself a handy lead which often meant he was in a position to sail away. This meant the fight was on for the other Heavy division podium places between Wayne Turner, Steve Harvey and David Hicks with lots of close racing while trying to avoid other divisions. Nick Trollope was showing the reason he is the current World Champion in the Super Heavy division by being up near the front and pushing the lighter guys. The great thing was the order and mix of divisions over the line with a good spread of weights all mixed up. It just goes to show that one design Blokart racing can be fairly close when the abilities are, and on a good surface everyone can find someone to measure themselves against.

So once again Llanbedr reminded us that even when the forecast says one thing local conditions can offer something completely different, sometimes you just have to be there or miss out!

A special mention and a huge thanks to Ed and Sharon for acting as RO and Race Scorer. It's always a hard job when you would rather be racing so thanks for the waving the flags so well, keeping the races flowing and mixing up the course direction to keep us all thinking.

I must also thank the team at CamperKing who supplied me with a camper for the weekend. I highly recommend their vans and the rental I had for the weekend made towing the trailer and staying in the hanger much more pleasant than in the back of the car.

Thanks also to Rooster who again supported the association with some goodies to give away. Their stuff is always great and when it was wet on the Sunday morning my Aquafleece was again put to good use while racing. It's my must have piece of kit whether in the Blokart on cold days or out on the water.

It was also awesome to see some new faces making their presence known and I think everyone came away at the end of the day feeling the trip was definitely worth it.

Happy sailing everyone and remember to get along and support your local club. Maybe even organise a group to visit another club on one of their club days. See you out there!!

2021 British Blokart Open Championship Results:

Production Light
1st David Cooke
2nd Tom Carpenter

Production Middle
1st Nigel Owen
2nd Tim Seed
3rd Martin Letters

Production Heavy
1st Stephen Cooke
2nd Pat Letters

Production Super
1st Stephen McGeogh

Performance Light
1st David Hare
2nd Joe Nathan

Performance Middle
1st Peter Williams
2nd Francois Cilliers
3rd Alan Gibson

Performance Heavy
1st Chris Moore
2nd Wayne Turner
3rd Steve Harvey

Performance Super
1st Nick Trollope
2nd Adrian Chalkey
3rd Roger Jackson

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