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Original Cottages B14 Europeans and Nationals 2022 at Whitstable Yacht Club - Day 1

by Mark Watts 2 Sep 04:46 BST 1-4 September 2022

Day 1 dawned bright, sunny and with a solid 17 to 22 knots promising an exciting day of racing despite post Brexit paperwork complexity and the current economic situation leading to boats from France and Switzerland not being able to make the trip.

Rave officer Tom Bruton set a perfect 3 lap 45 minute first race to test out the teams, the infamous Whitstable sea state leading to pretty punishing upwind legs and plenty of ramps to fly off or in to downwind.

Off the line the general opinion was to head right into the tidal relief and smoother sea state. Hooking into a small shift middle right and with good boat speed GBR 797 Brightmile (Mark Watts/Matt Johnson) led into the top mark from GBR 796 Harken (Nick Craig/Toby Lewis) and GBR 774 Highland Girl (Dave Heyes/Pete Nicholson) leading in the pack in third. Brightmile slowly stretched away with right for tidal relief up the beat making it something of a 1 way race track to take the gun from Harken and Highland Girl coming in 3rd.

Race 2 and this time Harken led round the first mark by a nose after a close dogfight up the first beat, however BrightmIle callled a better lay line downwind to pass and extend of to a big lead as Harken did some final recalibration from GP14 mode to B14 sailing and ironed out a few handling errors. It wasn't all plain sailing though with even the top teams finding running into the back of the building steep waves downwind hard to avoid at times leading to a lot of brown trouser moments and plenty of swimming across the fleet. This was further compounded by a large freighter bisecting the course on lap 2 giving teams even more to think about! 3rd was GBR 791 Dads on Tour (Josh Wilce/Matt Hollis).

Race 3 and with some attrition in the fleet due to the sea state the Harken Brightmile dogfight continued however with the tide now slackening the race track offered up for scope for playing the tide and shifts. Harken nailed the first best from the left to lead round. At the bottom gate Harken headed out left with Brightmile splitting to try and get past on the right. Harken extended but were reeled in on the final beat for a final close downwind, Harken finally getting their lay line calibration sorted to take a well deserved win from Brightmile and Dads on Tour 3rd.

Back on the beach there were plenty of smiles and tales of sea monsters eating boats downwind, with a few teams licking their wounds as the fleet came together to get them back on the water for day 2.

With a 1400 start on day 2 the fieet enjoyed the sunshine on the Whitstable Yacht Club Terrace before taking over the local curry house to refuel for tomorrow.

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