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Santa Special at Pwllheli Sailing Club

by Vicky Cox 5 Dec 2023 09:58 GMT 2 December 2023
Santa hats donned and ice cleared from under the wheel on Mojito for the Pwllheli Santa Special © Ian (Sammo) Jones

An icy cold and wet day didn't deter the Pwllheli fleet for the popular Pwllheli Santa Special race on Saturday ahead of their black tie Christmas party and annual prize-giving. Santa hats were donned together with extra layers and residual ice was cleared from decks and around the wheel.

With relative calm and shelter in the marina a plan was hatched to sail to the St Tudwall islands and back. But just as they left the channel a squall arrived, whipping up large seas in the dense 25kt wind and delivering sleet in the process.

Some of the fleet immediately turned back while the rest agreed that staying in the bay was the better option, where they could make use of a couple of racing marks freshly laid by the commodore for the weekend.

A simple two lap course was set around the marks, also taking in the fairway buoy and back to the outfall buoy at Gimblet Rock. All boats were fired up for some very close racing, all still together at the first mark. Finally, approaching on a higher course, rounded the mark alongside Nigel Ingrams Wild Haggis but Mojito, on their tails were able to make the most of their position by immediately tacking away for the upwind leg.

With dark skies all around and the threat of more squalls with strong and shifting winds, the fleet gingerly hoisted their kites. All boats still in tight formation, but it was Mojito that rounded for the second lap first followed by Wild Haggis.

By the second lap the winds had backed 30 degrees and it was easier to hoist the kite. However after the first lap, many had swapped to a smaller kite making it difficult to get down to the next mark, especially when winds dropped away to just 8kts mid leg. Wild haggis were forced to sail higher away from the mark to maintain speeds, allowing Mojito to pull away for line honours a minutes ahead.

A fine performance by Paul and Sam Kitteringham's Finally saw them take 2nd overall from Wild haggis, by 25 seconds once times were corrected by handicaps.

Any complaints of numb hands and freezing fingers was soon forgotten when they all returned to the dock to enjoy warm mugs of mulled drinks, while refuelling on mince pies and festive treats.

The last scheduled racing of the year is planned for two weeks time, again one race per day before returning for warm drinks. Racing then resumes next year at Easter.

Look out for more information and all the latest news on the club website at www.PwllheliSailingClub.co.uk

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