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Battle of the B14s at the Starcross Steamer 2024

by Gaz Stewart 6 Feb 18:15 GMT 4 February 2024
Starcross Steamer 2024 © Heather Davies

With the 2024 Starcross Steamer selling out within 24 hours of opening it was promising to be a busy one. We woke to beautiful sunshine and blue skies with a Westerly breeze coming over the clubhouse. Start times were published and with a 38-minute wait we decided to have another cuppa before getting changed!

From the off team 789 Crispin Taylor & Lucy Loughton, one of the local teams led the way to mark 1 where they just extended their lead.

The chasing pack made up of 756 Paul Roberts & Guy Raynes, 769 Gary Stuart & Dave Roberts, 788 Tony Blackmore & Jamie Dawson, 766 Wayne Andrew & Claire Geoghegan were fighting it out for second place chopping and changing position more times than you can shake a stick at with some excellent close racing.

Unfortunately, team 76 Eric Evans & Silas Braund decided to inspect their hull and with missing out on the odd gust that came through fell off the back of the chasing pack.

789s impressive lead was shortened somewhat with the gusty and shifty conditions catching them off guard with a capsize too windward. The chasing pack managed to close the gap even more with the shifty conditions giving them a lovely gust to get them up and planing while 789 sat in nothing, awww!

Around 10 minutes to the finish time 789 was leading with 788 close behind and 769 just behind them. 788 tacked off early with 789 heading to the right-hand side of the course. 769 decided to follow to the right of the course. Unfortunately for 789 (the locals) they forgot their earlier wise words of not going too far right as there is a sandbank...

769 had a great front row seat ten boat lengths or so behind to watch 789 ground on the sandbank 'endo stylee' and ended up going for a mud bath! Again, 769 did not laugh at all honest!

It was the showdown between 788 and 769 with the finish looming who would make it to the windward mark first. 769 having tacked before the sandbank (ha ha) came out on top at the windward mark with a relatively nice lead. "All we have to do is hold this for 5 minutes...."

769 rounded mark one with the tight kite leg looming, the wind had picked up so the discussion begins do we or don't we... we had no choice we had to hoist the kite.

"Gust coming" bear away, bear away more, and some more. "Let's drop, it's too tight"... SPLAT capsized, thrown it away in the dying minutes.

Oh no were not giving up that easily. With the only way to describe him as super crew Dave leaps for the centreboard like a whippet possessed and the boat's coming up in no time at all, kite down and jib backed bear away let's go.

Glance behind sees 788 kite up planing heading straight for the mark (why can't I do that!?). 769 just about managed to hold the lead round the mark followed by 788 about two boat lengths behind by the finish and 756 had made a sprint for the finish who came charging up behind but it was too late.

A very close top four finish with 766 finishing just behind.

Thank you, Starcross Yacht Club, fantastic event and a great day's sailing. Onwards to Rutland for the Inlands in March and Stokes Bay Skiffs in April.

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