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British Keelboat League Qualifier 4 at Marconi Sailing Club

by British Keelboat League 19 Jun 07:11 BST 15-16 June 2024
British Keelboat League Qualifier 4 at Marconi © Marconi SC

The Royal Thames Yacht Club has secured a ticket to the British Keelboat League finals after taking victory in round four of the series at Marconi-Stone on the East Coast.

Seven teams ranging from #rockupandrace BKL regulars to dinghy sailors giving it a go for the first time competed over the weekend (15-16 June 2024) on the Blackwater Estuary in Marconi Sailing Club's fleet of SB20 keelboats.

There was a big breeze forecast for the Saturday but with an expectation that the worst of the weather would be just to the south - and a fantastic effort from the race management and RIB teams - competitors were able to complete one race before 30+ knot gusts sent the fleet back into Bradwell Marina to shelter.

An early start on the Sunday then allowed a further 13 races, with the teams completing eight races each, in glorious conditions. A 15-16 knot breeze gradually eased through the day to a constant 10 knots, complete with sunshine and big fluffy clouds.

Close competition

Entries included under-18 team, Teen Spirit, some of whom travelled from West Wales to compete in the east coast BKL event for the second year, and a mixed club MSC - Blackwater team.

The Oxford Improvers meanwhile, who signed up after chatting to the BKL at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show, were sailing keelboats for the first time. Their results included a bullet, with Andrew Nicoll from the team commenting afterwards that the team had thoroughly enjoyed their weekend and the "fabulous fun racing".

Blackwater Sailing Club's team likewise comprised high level dinghy sailors, all experiencing the quick-fire BKL format for the first time, who started the Sunday with two race wins and at one stage were leading with Royal Thames YC.

As the action headed into the final quarter of the racing, however, those teams that were more familiar with the BKL and asymmetric spinnaker handling came to the fore.

Royal Thames YC, just back from competing in Berlin with the European SAILING Champions League after winning last year's BKL finals, won an impressive six of their eight races to claim the fourth qualifier of 2024.

Joining the team at this year's BKL finals will be Burnham Sailing Club, who fought a great series to finish second overall on countback, with a scoreline including three race wins, putting them ahead of Frensham SC & Friends in third.

Overall Results: (eight races)

PosTeam NameTotal PointsAverage Points
1Royal Thames YC Academy (R)293.63
2Burnham SC (X)243
3Frensham and Friends (V)243
4Blackwater SC (Z)212.63
5Teen Spirit (P)192.38
6Oxford Improvers (O)131.63
7MSC Blackwater (M)91.13

Sociable weekend

Event organiser and BKL Coordinator, Peter Ward of Marconi SC, said: "We had experienced teams and some who, although experienced sailors, were jumping into both keelboats and the BKL style of racing for the first time.

"It's really sociable though and there was a lot of sharing of information and practical tips between the experienced BKL racers and those new to it, so it was brilliant from that point of view, and the message is that if you're a good dinghy racer then come along to a British Keelboat League event and give it a go!"

All of the on-water activity was provided by Marconi SC with the onshore part of the event - including catering and camping, a social with a live band and the prize-giving - based at Stone SC, with Blackwater SC also supporting with RIBS.

Prizes thanks to Sailing Chandlery were presented by Stone SC Sailing Secretary Phil Longley. The race officer was Bryan Spencer and Chief Umpire was Antonio Dionisio.

Peter added that a key part of the organising team on the water, acting as umpires, RIB transfers and SB20 launching and recovery, were Marconi sailors, all in their mid-20s and some having finished third in the BKL finals last year: "It was great to see all these young sailors giving up their time to give back to the BKL and the club in a massive way to make the event possible."

Flynn Davies of Burnham SC said: "Massive thank you from Team Burnham. We all had a great time!" Guy Welch of Blackwater SC summed up: "Fantastic weekend, super sailing, super food and under testing conditions, great organisation. Thank you everyone for making a very memorable weekend."

Take part

Next stop for the British Keelboat League 2024 is Rutland SC in the Midlands, where teams will be able to #rockupandrace aboard the club's fleet of RS21s. Look out for entries opening soon and in the meantime, get your team together and save the date!

The BKL motto is: "THINK Football Champions League - SAIL British Keelboat League."

The top two teams from each event are invited to the national BKL final in J70s at The Royal Southern YC, Hamble, at the end of September, and then have the chance to win a place representing Britain in Europe in the 2025 SAILING Champions League.

Find out more and keep up with all the latest BKL news and events @britishkeelboatleague on social media or at britishkeelboatleague.co.uk

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