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B14s rock at the Final Fling

by Mark Barnes 20 Oct 2021 10:50 BST 16-17 October 2021

The weekend arrived and instead of a windy wet weekend that many of us have come to expect, especially when looking to travel long distances, the weather proved to be near perfect for the weekend. Even the wind filled in on queue each day at approx. 0930 hrs. and the sun burnt through the mist building to a southerly 6 - 8 knots and sun all day.

Royal Weston Yacht Club, primarily led by event organisers Nicola and Keith Davies and team, sponsored by All Spars and some of their suppliers including Harken, Marlow, Seldon and Spinlock, prizes were aplenty. Due to the current climate of teams not travelling as much as had been the norm prior to CV-19, the turnout proved to be a good mix of dinghies, ranging from current rules 18Footer (All Spars) down to a Europe. The biggest classes being 6 Phantoms and 5 B14s. With some of the front of fleet sailors from several classes in attendance and 3 mixed style courses and end of race each day touring the harbour, Race Officer Dan Gibbons and his team of helpers were going to have a busy day. Results would be worked out using the Average Lap process.

The fleet was split into 2 starts, starting first were the Fast Handicap with the split being the Phantoms being fastest in the Slow Handicap.

So Day 1 and Race 1, sausage course, it was time for the Asymmetrics to stretch their legs. The fun on the first beat was one how to get an 18footer off the line on time and then for the rest of the fleet how to avoid the wind shadow which was huge. So B14 799 (Seavolution/North Sails (Mark Barnes/Charlotte Horlock) hit the ground running and led the B14s from start to finish with close racing for second B14 between the following 4. At the finish, it was B14 789 (Asbo Rides Again (Crispin Taylor/Guy Harroll)) from B14 770 (Harken (Simon & Nikki Hadley)).

Race 2 and a triangle. The 18footer (we called the Hoover) played its joker on the first beat rolling and then covering Seavolution/North Sails, and so keeping the B14s very tight in this race with nothing to choose over the first lap with all 5 very close and places changing on the second beat. Over the 4 laps, Seavolution/North Sails took the win with Harken taking it from B14 764 (Admiral Trailers (Tony Blackmore/Lucy Loughton)).

Race 3 and a tour of the harbour finishing off of the club finish line. Out of the blocks there was little o chose and again the Hoover played her joker and covered a couple of the B14s. Message to note book, when sailing against an 18footer, by all means win the pin, but make sure one can tack off soon as the 18 footer comes hunting. So up the first long 2,000 m. beat, the fleet split and Harken came out on top chased closely by the pack of 4 B14s. This is how it remained till the 3,200 m. run back to the club line. Down the run Harken was hunted down and passed in the last 1,000 m. by Seavolution/North Sails, holding off Asbo Rides Again by 7 seconds at the finish.

Spot prizes provided by the sponsors were handed out after racing before people dispersed to their accommodation and evenings.

Day 2 and more of the same with sun and wind of 6 - 8 knots. Sublime weather for October and some very tactical sailing due to the changing tide etc.

Race 4, again a sausage course and again the Hoover joker came in to play with leader Seavolution/North Sails having led off the pin, and then splitting with the Hoover, close to the lay-line rolled Barnsie/Char, with the smiling assassins Asbo Rides Again having been to windward of the Hoover, rolled them as well like 2 Cheshire cats or is it Hyenas. From that point onwards, they placed a hard cover on the latter throughout the race to take the win with Harken not far behind followed by GBR 757 (The Buzz Wagon (Ali and Rory Moppett) with Admiral Trailers late on parade due to a puncture on Dartmoor that morning but just making the cut off for the start.

Race 5 and a trapezoid. The big play here was Barnsie/Char climbing out of the start and offering the Hoover the choice of slowing down or tacking, So after about 300 m. they tacked but failed to cross all the starboard tackers, and having to tack back, surprising an RS400 as they saw a 10 foot wing rolling through the air into their track. Thankfully no contact and no issue as both avoided each other, but interesting to look back and watch. Having gained enough distance on the Hoover, when they did tack, they covered Asbo Rides Again which pleased the other teams but they did hold on to 2nd followed by Harken.

Race 6 and another big grand tour. Would the fat lady be singing, would the Hoover reign supreme, and the would the wind turn off. Out of the blocks, the usual suspects hit left with Harken and The Buzz Wagon with the other 2 going to the right. The prior tacking up edge of the harbour to avoid the channel, who would come out on top. Irony was after all that it was not a lot, but the left had it by an edge. The Hoover had gone and now it was the IC to play with. Down the final run, the breeze filled in from behind, but Barnsie/Char had done enough to slip and slide away down the waves with the other 4 B14s, having to deal with a couple of 4000s that came down in pressure. So at the end Barnsie/Char took the gun behind the Hoover and next 4 very close together.

So now the question was to see the scores on the doors as so far none of us had a really good idea who had done what. Great sailing on a great bit of water and worth the round trip to attend. With the merging of both fleet's results it was two B14s on top followed by the Phantom of Martin Watts and third B14 Harken in 7th. Thanks to the club and team for some good courses and lines, club for their welcoming nature, especially the trolley team and finally Allspars and their suppliers for some great prizes.

Next year's Final Fling will be on the 15 - 16th October. If you fancy some great handicap racing on a large semi sheltered area of water with great hosts, it is not one to miss. See all there is 2022 and keep safe and well in these strange times.

Finally we were sorry to hear of Fi's (Fiona Clark) passing. You just never know who is vulnerable in whatever way physically or mentally. So check up on those you know and take the time to chat and bring a smile to their faces. See all on the water soon and enjoy one of the greatest sports that we are lucky enough to be part of.

Full results can be found here...

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