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Catapult open meeting at Bassenthwaite Sailing Club

by Stuart Ede 10 Jun 16:30 BST 30 April - 2 May 2022
Gareth Ede © Paul Hargreaves Photography

There are good reasons that the Catapult fleet has been returning year after year since 2007 to Bassenthwaite Sailing Club, namely the great sailing, wonderful scenery and the warm welcome. This year the fleet was greeted by a shifty and gusty Force 2 on the Saturday making for tricky conditions that tested the sailors' skills to make the most of them.

Gareth and Stuart Ede and Nigel Harrison took advantage of a significant bias on the start line and a strongly favoured left hand side to the beat of Race 1 to make a port tack start. This paid off well so that Gareth rounded the windward mark closely followed by Nigel and Stuart. However, the starboard starters were coming up fast, and John Terry overtook Stuart as they rounded the mark.

Nigel was the next to fall by the wayside after he hit the mark at the top of the second beat of the first lap, allowing John and Stuart to overtake, whereupon John set off in pursuit of Gareth. Gareth's lead extended or contracted according who was benefiting or losing from a given shift or gust.

It was on the second beat of the last lap that proved Stuart's undoing when George Evans, who had been duelling with Mike Gough, managed to sail much higher to the mark and round it ahead. Mike, too, got past as Stuart did a penalty turn to exonerate himself from an incident with a dinghy. However, Stuart reclaimed fourth place by bagging the inside berth at the leeward mark.

Meanwhile out in front John had caught up with Gareth and it was neck-and-neck as they approached the last leeward mark before the finish. An opportune gust enabled Gareth to get his nose in front to take first place.

Learning from the first race, half the fleet went for a port tack start in Race 2, and John got the best start followed by Stuart and Gareth. Again the wind was very shifty and up and down. You might think you were on a lay line only to find you had to throw in a couple of tacks to make the mark. Another hazard was congestion at some marks as the Catapults came together with the competitive club fleets. This resulted in a very strung out fleet.

However, John lengthened his lead while Gareth drew away from Stuart. Behind these three George and Mike were again in close combat with one another and trying to close the gap on Stuart, but this time to no avail.

Contrary to the dire forecast of little or no wind, the Sunday provided excellent sailing in a sunny Force 3.

At the start of Race 3 the fleet again divided in two between port and starboard starters. John and George managed to cross ahead of the starboard starters. Gareth, who had started on starboard, tacked onto port soon after the start to gain a windward gauge on John and George. These three went up the right hand side of the course which paid off handsomely, because they rounded the windward mark in the order John, George, Gareth with a good lead over the rest of the fleet who had gone left.

There followed a close fought battle characterised by John having a small lead of a few boat lengths while George and Gareth frequently changed places. As they approached the finish line Gareth had drawn level with John, but John held on to win by a nose.

Meanwhile Syd Gage was having a good race in fourth place. As the leading boats extended their lead over the rest of the fleet, so did Syd over the chasing pack. Unfortunately the race team neglected to record times for this race, so we'll never know if Syd's performance would have been good enough to secure him a win on handicap.

It was back to starboard starts for the majority of the fleet in Race 4. John started by the Committee Boat while Gareth crossed further down the line at speed. John reached the windward mark first, followed by Gareth, Mike, Nigel and Chris Phillips. Chris approached the mark on port and infringed Mike, so the ensuing penalty turn lost him some places.

George hunted down and passed Nigel and was then gifted third place when Mike touched a mark. Mike, however, managed to fight off a challenge from Nigel to cling onto fourth place.

Meanwhile out in front Gareth had overtaken John on the long reach of the first lap and gradually extended his lead over the rest of the course.

For John and Gareth, who were now holding two wins apiece, Race 5 was largely a re-run of Race 4 with Gareth taking the honours. Behind them Mike, Nigel and Chris had broken away from the rest of the fleet and had built up what looked to be a good safety margin.

However, George, who had been buried in the chasing pack, managed to break away as they approached the first gate and set off in pursuit of Chris, Mike and Nigel. He caught Chris, and then a couple of laps later he passed Nigel on the run to have Mike in his sights. At the final turn before the finish line he so nearly caught Mike, but Mike held on to claim third place.

On Monday the forecast of no wind proved correct and Race 6 was cancelled. This left Gareth on three wins to John's two making him the event winner and top of the 2022 TT Series leader board, three points ahead of John.

Nigel, who has not sailed very much with the fleet in recent years, proved he has not lost his touch by taking the top spot on personal handicap a couple of points ahead of George, who tops the 2022 Handicap Series leader board just one point ahead of Stuart.

Everyone said how much they enjoyed the event, so an invitation to come back next year was welcomed with open arms.

Level rating results:

1Gareth Ede1‑22115
2John Terry‑211226
3George Evans3‑533413
4Mike Gough‑5455317
5Stuart Ede436‑7720
6Nigel Harrison‑12674522
7Chris Phillips679‑10628
8Damien Cooney78106‑1231
9Syd Gage‑121249833
10Chris Upton‑12988934
11Chris Crawley‑12‑12‑12‑12‑1248

Personal handicap results:

1Nigel Harrison‑123216
2George Evans1‑5438
3Stuart Ede21‑10912
4John Terry32‑8712
5Damien Cooney761‑1214
6Chris Upton‑1293214
7Gareth Ede44‑6614
8Mike Gough5‑77416
9Syd Gage‑12125522
10Chris Phillips68‑9822
11Chris Crawley‑12‑12‑12‑1236

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