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Musto Skiffs at the Draycote Dash 2023

by Sam Barker 20 Nov 10:14 GMT 18-19 November 2023
Sam Pascoe wins the Draycote Dash 2023 by 1 point © Tim Olin /

First round for the 2023/24 Selden Sailjuice Winter Series kicked off at Draycote Water Sailing Club. We Arrived to a less-than-forecast 8-10 knots blowing across Draycote and With the rain disappearing for the rig up, the 80 odd boat fleet including three Mustos driven by Sam Pascoe, Sam Barker (Team Ovington boats Portland) and Rob Richardson (Royal Windermere) headed out to do battle.

Race 1 started in a pleasant but shifty 10 knots. Barker came off strongest from the committee boat but Rob managed to sneak around the windward mark first. Barker managed to out hoist Rob but capsized on the drop. This left Rob to hold off Pascoe to take the win and Barker coming in third.

Race 2 Pascoe and Rob were inseparable until Rob had to double tack up to the windward mark leaving Pascoe with valuable breathing space to take the race win.

The wind had built to a gusty 15 knots for the start of race 3 with all three Mustos getting great starts and jumping clear of the fleet. After the first tack all three Mustos had to duck the charging RS800 and that lined us up for a great tuning run to the windward mark. Until the 800 reached over us.

Pascoe got the jump by getting in front of the 800 and sailed off to take the race win. Barker capsized with the kite up. Again. But managed to do a lighting quick recovery thanks to his capsize practice to chase down Rob to keep the pressure on. The race finished Pascoe, Rob, Barker.

By the time Race 4 got under way, the wind had crept up to over 20 knots with some big gusts and even bigger holes! Pascoe decided to show his pace and won by a convincing margin leaving Rob and Barker to have some great close racing in challenging conditions with the boys finishing in that order.

This meant after four races, the skiff fleet had taken all four race wins on handicap!

Ashore, we did the only thing that seemed sensible and headed to the bar where we were greeted with hot soup and an open bar. This led to us talking about how on earth you get a Musto Skiff down a single sail reach and the answers varied somewhat! Some opted for sit on the rack with no kicker and cunningham on while others sent it on the wire, in the footloop, and hope for the best. Unanimously we agreed all methods worked but a longer mainsheet was number one on the list!

Day 2, and the race committee had seen enough of the Musto Skiffs taking race wins and obviously overheard the conversation about reaching. So they set a ten mark course with two 100m runs and many many reaches. Comment of the day went to Aaron Holman stating that if they didn't win in the 470 he would quit sailing.

The Mustos started in a thumping gust which was only a sign of things to come. Pascoe got to the top mark first followed by Rob who fell over trying to adjust is controls. Barker snuck past Rob briefly until he had a lengthy swim. Pascoe was on a mission and with the previous evening chat about reaching fresh in his mind, put on a stunning display to jump clear of the other Mustos.

Meanwhile Barker was doing his capsize practice on lap 1 and 2 letting Rob get away.

At the end of lap 2 the wind had built with gusts over 30 knots creating a minefield of capsized boats to navigate around. On laps 3&4 Rob decided to have his own capsize practice to bring Barker back into the race thus creating a less than needed reach-off on the last two reaches. Pascoe also proved he was human by doing his best submarine impression which ended in a spectacular pitch pole.

The race came to an end with Pascoe finishing fourth and Rob and Barker in the 20s.

That result for Pascoe was enough for him to hold onto his overnight lead and win the Draycote Dash overall by 1 point. Rob and Barker finished in seventh and ninth respectively.

Next event is the Datchet flyer on the 9/10 December where Team Ovington Portland will hope to have similar fortunes and less reaching!

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