UK Flying 15 National Championships - Rhu 24th-27th June 2021
The fleet has assembled for its first national championships since Parkstone in 2019.
Due to Covid and location the fleet assembled 33 boats, including a good contingent of Classic boats.
The forecast for the event favoured the light wind specialists, with Thursday being the windiest (and wettest) day. The courses for both races were 2 laps windward-leeward.
Racing commenced at 12:55pm with the wind coming from the south west with a variability of about 20 degrees. The committee boat unexpectedly showed no bearing to the windward mark, so the fleet had to decide on the way to windward with the fleet splitting between those choosing a middle course up to windward and those deciding to go hard left - which proved to be the correct decision.
The first boat to the windward mark was 4092 sailed by newcomer to the fleet Nigel Biggs from Budworth Sailing Club near Northwich. Nigel comes from a big boat background and his tidal understanding paid off. The second beat changed the positions around and at the finish Greg Wells and David Tulloch (4030) led from the Ian's - Pinnell and Cadwallader (4055) with current world champions Graham Vials and Chris Turner (4071) in third place.
Race 2 started in similar conditions but the fleet was now over excited and had to be subjected to a General Recall. The second start was more acceptable but proved a bit messy in the middle order with much jockeying for clear air going away from the line. The tide had now turned and was starting to ebb quite fast and the wind played games and delivered some quieter moments when the larger crews had to "hide" inside the boat. Going left was still the right decision and the surprise first boat at the windward mark was Mike Preston and Chris Robinson from Blackpool and Fleetwood YC. The change in tidal conditions and wind strength conditions for lap 2 saw changes in position and by the end Graham Vials and Chris Turner had returned to their winning ways followed by Jeremy Davy and Martin Huett from Draycote Water SC with the Ian's in third place.
Overnight positions were Vials/Turner first, the Ian's second and Wells/Tulloch third.
Friday's forecast was for lighter winds from the north but no rain.
That proved to be half true; no rain but F4-5 winds from the north which in Helensburgh means over the hills and with 40 degree wind shifts, which proved to be a challenge for the whole fleet.
Race 3 was a 3 lap windward-leeward affair made interesting by a wind shift to port at the start making getting away from the line difficult for many boats. Those choosing a pin end start and tacking onto port ultimately benefited. The first windward mark was very busy as the fleet arrived "en masse" and there were a few issues to be resolved between teams. The expert of shifty conditions, Steve Goacher and Tim Harper made the best of the race to win from Davy and Huett. Vials and turner took the third place.
Race 4 was the first with reaching legs, again 3 laps. The fleet was now used to the days conditions and made a better job of the approach to the windward mark with many of the leaders going hard left in the approach to the windward mark. The off wind leg was characterised by bands of winds down the run; something that every race on day 2 had so choice of the route downwind was crucial to maintaining position come the following beat. Race 4 ended up a win for Nathan Batchelor and Richard Rigg with Day/Huett and Vials/Turner taking the runner up slots.
The Race Officer took his time setting the course for the final race of the day before settling on a small 10 degree adjustment to post.
Race 5 (again with reaching legs, 3 laps) started with yet another wind shift occurring just after the start causing the fleet to change onto port tack for the first half of the beat before going for the windward mark. The wind was reaching its maximum at this time and all enjoyed brisk runs down to the leeward mark. The reach was not a challenge being set quite flat but still gave the opportunity for overtaking in the gusts downwind. at the end of the race there were two teams way in front; Goacher/Harper and Vials/Turner with Steve Goacher just missing on the line honours.
So after 5 races, Vials/Turner have a 3 point lead over Davy/Huett, with Wells/Tulloch another point adrift and similarly with Goacher/Harper. So day 5 has proven to be a centrepiece of the event and may dictate the winning team.
The forecast for Day 3 is light with the wind not expected over 5 mph before mid afternoon. Reality may differ, but with Sunday being an even poorer forecast the fleet will be lucky to sail another day.
Results can be seen at https://www.halsail.com/Result/Public/54908
Report by Simon Thompson (4080)
Photo's courtesy of Neill Ross. Day 1 photos shown.