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CoastWaterSports 2014

B14 European and National Championship 2024 at Royal Torbay Yacht Club

by Crispin Taylor 20 Jun 12:51 BST 13-16 June 2024
B14 Europeans and Nationals at Torquay © Tania Hutchings /

Royal Torbay Yacht Club welcomed the B14s to the English Rivera for what promised to be a full on four days of sailing in the stunning waters of Torbay in south Devon.

The windy predictions were just that, four days of 'windy' and somewhat unseasonal temperatures causing some crews to question whether the English Rivera was going to live up to its name!

The journey to Royal Torbay had been made possible by the legendary i14 class with whom we shared the event, their first in the history of the class. The harbourside was duly adorned with i14 classics in all their splendour, the ultra-competitive 'current' designs and the now nearly 40-year-old Australian designed B14 skiff. Between them, the i14's is probably the fastest 14 foot non foiling trapeze boat and the B14 the fastest hiking boats in the world. How would each fair in the challenging conditions that were forecast?

The fleet awoke to be greeted to the sight of Torbay being swept in 40 knot gusts and stormy rain bursts. Wisely, Bill the PRO kept the fleet ashore. Intrepid competitors found a grand prix kart racing venue where the i's and B's battled it out and the Starcross team, playing cards and the obligatory wet day DVD of Con Air!

As it was her birthday, Lucy from B14 762 organised a dinner for all B14 competitors on Thursday evening which was attended by all.

Friday dawned with less wind, somewhat warmer and the promise of 4 races. Some were excited, some were approaching it with trepidation and others decided it was not for them. So the brave hearted raised their sails, and with the help of ribs to get the chariots out of the harbour, both reduced fleets slowly ventured out into the froth of Torbay. Some did not make the first start, but those that did and survived would be in for a ride that will be imprinted on their minds for many a year. This was to prove to be the windiest raced B14 event for many years. Whoever made it to the podium would be a worthy top three teams.

First race of the day, Team ASBO (Crispy & Gi) led with a port tack flyer, narrowly being overtaken by Mark Watts and Matt Johnson at the windward mark; sadly, gear failure on the second run ended their adventures for the day. Up the beat those that went right, maybe to get a clear lane came out smelling of roses with Brightmile (Wonky Donkey - Mark Watts/Matt Johnson) taking up the batten followed by PSB (James Gardner/Anne Gardner) and Admiral Trailers (Tony Blackmore/Jamie Dawson) chasing hard. Brightmile, a case of good boat handling and the rich getting richer was an epic downhill charge. There were several teams that rocked and some that hit the tide, but those that finished, had smiles on their faces. Brightmile won from Seavolution/North Sails and PSB.

The following two races were to follow the pattern with some big shifts. Brightmile again breaking right for a lane in both races, showed their superior speed to break through and round the windward mark in the lead in both races, chased by Seavolution/North Sails clawing back places after getting the wrong side of some shifts.

Third in both races was Admiral Trailers. Many had succumbed to the task at hand when trying to send 50 sqm of sheer adrenaline downhill. The good news was that during racing with several high powered capsizes, the chariots returned to shore as they had left with many appreciated helping hands ready to receive the battered sailors of both fleets.

Day 3, day 2 to be sailed, we dragged our bodies back to our chariots knowing what was awaiting us once afloat. The day was to be a repeat of the previous day's conditions but with bigger gusts and seas.

Race 4 and Seavolution/North Sails led the charge and as the race went on having a wobble in a big gust in a gybe at full speed. Brightmile whilst chasing hard with Admiral Trailers, hit the tide, gybing in spectacular fashion. Even they were not invincible today. As the race progressed Seavolution North Sails, having to gybe in a large sustained gust, spun out and capsized. Though they tried their best to recover to the lead, Admiral Trailers flew by as they restarted to win by 20 seconds and win their first championship race in great style. As teams hit the tide, Brightmile in all their pomp charged back to close out 3rd.

Race 5 back to the norm with Brightmile and Seavolution/North Sails playing cat and mouse as Brightmile loosely covered the latter. However, the joker was played by Admiral Trailers as the hit the corner hard and came out looking better and better with Brightmile just managing to tack in front of the latter at the windward mark, both leaving Seavolution/North Sails in their wake, arriving home in that order.

Race 6 and the final, thank goodness, race of the day. The wind got its big guns out. Seavolution/North Sails, Brightmile and Admiral Trailers led the charge with a fag paper covering the 3. Down the track came the gust of all gusts hitting Seavolution/North Sails first, flattening them with Barnsie having to swim after the boat which he soon joined, with the other 2 teams releasing sails to survive just before recovering to joist throughout the race, led home by Brightmile. After much flip flopping in the gusts, Seavolution/North Sails gave a distant chase passing Demelza (Peter Knight/Jane Reeves) on the next beat and closing in on WR Composites (Wayne Hancox/Claire Geoghegan) on the gybe to the finish only to fluff their lines and eventually finish 4th with WR Composites 3rd. All in both fleets that completed the day, would have some great stories to tell and take pride in the fact they survived to complete the 3 races. Shore support was again excellent with a great team of club members and competitors to meet the fleets as they took their battered bodies to a well-earned rest.

Though the scores on the doors showed a rampant Brightmile leading both the Europeans and Nationals, joint first with Admiral Trailers in the Nationals, it was far from a done deal with the last day's forecast looking potent as well. With other returning teams who had kept their powder dry joining the fray the following day, there would be all to play for.

Royal Torbay laid on a fabulous dinner for both classes in their restaurant overlooking the bay. The days racing for the B14's & the i14 POW had been run in conditions that most competitors said would have been unsailable with some gusts well above 30 knots, however smiles aplenty dominated the evening with the 2024 i14 POW being won by Glen and Ed in Scrumpet.

The final days sailing was forecast to be 15/18 knots with gusts into the 20's... it was spot on! The slightly lighter forecast meant that everyone made the start and all three races were sailed in fantastic conditions.

B14 stalwarts, Gerry and Leaky sailed exceptionally well in 786, as did Amy Roberts, helming with husband Dave in 784, 4th in race 2.

Brightmile and Seavolution/North sails were on great form, closely followed by Demelza and the three Starcross boats, Admiral trailers, 762, Russ Gibbs & Lucy and Crispy & Gi sailing 711 due to gear damage in race 1.

Races over and scores on the doors; the B14 form guide was pretty much 'spot on' with Mark and MJ winning the European and National event in great form. Consistency was their USP throughout the event.

Barnsie & Jack 799, as predicted, 2nd Tony & Jamie 788, 3rd, Peter & Jane, 785, 4th.

Special mention to Wayne and Claire in 766 in 5th place in only their 4th B14 event, ones to watch for sure and Amy Roberts, first female helm in very testing and challenging conditions.

Royal Torbay were fabulous hosts, great management on the water ensured that courses for the B14 & i14's worked exceptionally well. Off the water organisation and such a stunning venue made for a memorable weekend.

Overall Results:

European Championship

PosBoat NameSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8R9Pts
1stWonkey Donkey797Mark WattsMatt JohnsonWeston SC‑111‑3111117
2ndSeavolution/North SailsGBR799Mark BarnesJack KilburnWhitstable Yacht Club2222‑3‑422214
3rdAdmiral TrailersGBR788Tony BlackmoreJamie DawsonStarcross YC‑4331224‑6419
4thDemelza785Peter KnightJane ReevesRestronguet SC‑54444‑553327
5th GBR766Wayne HancoxClaire GeogheganGrafham Water75(DNC)55310‑11641
6th 795Amir ShamsuddinNick PyeKing George SC6656DNF(DNC)‑118846
7th GBR798James GardnerAnne GardnerHISC3RET(DNC)DNF(DNC)DNC971058
8th GBR762Russ GibbsLucy LoughtonStarcross Yacht ClubDNS(DNC)(DNC)DNCDNCDNC35RET70
9thX ASBO789Crispin TaylorGi HarrillStarcross Yacht ClubDNF(DNC)(DNC)DNCDNCDNC69570
10th GBR784Amy RobertsDavid RobertsRoyal Torbay Yacht ClubDNF(DNC)(DNC)DNCDNCDNC84971
11th 786Geri FermorLeakyMSC(DNC)(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNC710776
12th GBR 770Simon HadleyNikki HadleyWhitstable Yacht Club(DNC)(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNCDNCDNCDNC91

National Championship

PosSail NoBoat NameHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1st797Wonkey DonkeyMark WattsMatt JohnsonWeston SC‑3111115
2ndGBR799Seavolution/North SailsMark BarnesJack KilburnWhitstable Yacht Club23‑422211
3rdGBR788Admiral TrailersTony BlackmoreJamie DawsonStarcross YC1224‑6413
4th785DemelzaPeter KnightJane ReevesRestronguet SC44‑553319
5thGBR766 Wayne HancoxClaire GeogheganGrafham Water55310‑11629
6th795 Amir ShamsuddinNick PyeKing George SC6DNF(DNC)118840
7thGBR762 Russ GibbsLucy LoughtonStarcross Yacht Club(DNC)DNCDNC35RET46
8th789X ASBOCrispin TaylorGi HarrillStarcross Yacht Club(DNC)DNCDNC69546
9thGBR784 Amy RobertsDavid RobertsRoyal Torbay Yacht Club(DNC)DNCDNC84947
10thGBR798 James GardnerAnne GardnerHISCDNF(DNC)DNC971047
11th786 Geri FermorLeakyMSC(DNC)DNCDNC710750
12thGBR 770 Simon HadleyNikki HadleyWhitstable Yacht Club(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNCDNC65

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