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B14s at Brightlingsea Sailing Club's Skiff Fest 2021

by Mike Bees 5 Oct 14:25 BST 2-3 October 2021
B14s at Brightlingsea Skiff Fest © Tim Olin /

Brightlingsea Sailing Club's biennial Skiff Fest event, with entries invited from B14, Musto Skiff and RS700 classes, took place over the weekend of 2nd and 3rd October 2021.

A combination of fuel supply problems and a dire looking forecast resulted in previously-committed entrants dropping like energy supply companies in the days leading up to the event - and who could blame them. The net result was a high quality entry of three B14s, consisting of Seavolution/North Sails, Blue Badge and Hyland Girl's Revenge - respectively placed first, third and fourth overall in the recent National Championship.

Mark Barnes on Seavolution/North Sails was 'putting the band back together' and sailing with old flame Simon Reynolds who, apart from a brief outing in 2016, hadn't sailed a B14 since 2001 - yep, that was 20 years ago.

Saturday never looked like being sailable, and so it came to pass. PRO and seasoned former B14 campaigner Dave Gibbons announced 'no sailing today' at the allotted briefing time, and brought forward Sunday's start time to 10:00 in the hope of getting some races in before the afternoon's expected gale. Showing remarkable restraint due to Sunday's early start the bar was shunned until 17:30 in favour of drinking tea & coffee, whilst recounting tales of past events and watching the rain being hammered against the windows by 35-knot winds. In the evening the club put on a fantastic curry, courtesy of Simon Redfearn and his team of helpers.

Sunday morning dawned with a grey and foreboding sky bringing around 10 knots of wind, the expectation being for it to build throughout the morning - the big question was how rapidly would it build?

The race team got us away bang on time, with a well set windward-leeward course. Up the first beat it was pretty much even-stevens. Hyland Girl's Revenge (Dave Hayes/Pete Nicholson) rounded the weather mark a few lengths ahead of Blue Badge (Mike Bees/Martin Worth), with a similar gap to Seavolution/North Sails (Mark Barnes/Simon Reynolds).

On the second beat the latter went furthest right and jumped Blue Badge. Down the final run it was Hyland Girl's Revenge from Seavolution/North Sails, but Blue Badge gybe-set to find more pressure on the left and steal the win with Seavolution/North Sails overhauling Hyland Girl's Revenge for second.

Race 2 started with the wind now hinting at building. Hyland Girl's Revenge led narrowly from Seavolution/North Sails at the first mark with Blue Badge seemingly struggling for upwind pace and dropping back. This order was maintained until the last leg where, making the final gybe for the finish line in the awkward chop, Hyland Girl's skipper stepped out of the boat leading to a lengthy swim. Thus the order was Seavolution/North Sails followed by Blue Badge.

Race 3 followed a similar pattern to race 2 with Hyland Girl's Revenge & Seavolution/North Sails battling for the lead and Blue Badge slipping back. Up the final beat Hyland Girl's Revenge was leading, but her skipper decided that when it comes to walking-on-water practice makes perfect, resulting in Seavolution/North Sails taking the gun and a grateful Blue Badge coming through to second.

For race 4 the sun came out and the breeze was up to 18 knots - downhaul on upwind! An evenly-matched first beat saw Seavolution/North Sails rounding narrowly ahead of Hyland Girl's Revenge and Blue Badge. All three were line-abreast screaming in to the leeward mark, with Hyland Girl's Revenge getting an overlap on Seavolution/North Sails to round first.

Seavolution/North Sails had tack line issues whilst dropping the kite, allowing Blue Badge to duck through to leeward. This order was maintained to the finish with Hyland Girl's Revenge showing relief at finally converting a lead into a win.

Thus ended a fine and intensive day's sailing. Congratulations to Mark Barnes and Simon Reynolds for overcoming the extreme lack of team practice betwixt helmsman and crew to take the win. Hard luck to Dave Hayes and Pete Nicholson who led every single race at some point.

Huge thanks to all at Brightlingsea Sailing Club for making the event happen in adverse circumstances and keeping everyone very well fed and hydrated.

The next and final B14 2021 TT event is the Final Fling at Plymouth on October 16/17 - here's hoping for a return to normality at the pumps and a more clement weather forecast.


1. 799 Seavolution/North Sails. Mark Barnes/Simon Reynolds, Whitstable YC. 2, 1, 1, (3). 4pts.
2. 771 Blue Badge. Mike Bees/Martin Worth, Brightlingsea SC. 1, (2), 2, 2. 5 pts.
3. 774 Hyland Girl's Revenge. Dave Hayes/Pete Nicholson, Whitstable YC/Brightlingsea SC. (3), 3, 3, 1. 7 pts.

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