After months of light wind events, gales lashed the UK rendering the first and second day of the Youths unsailable. The huge breeze wreaked havoc in the boat park taking advantage of any boats that weren’t tied down securely. Finally by the afternoon of the third day, the gales eased allowing the event to get under way.
Given the late start, two races were scheduled for each fleet. A 12-18kt north easterly resulted in bands of pressure bringing shifts to either side of the course. Unpredictable to say the least however Freddie Peters and Elliot Wells worked through this to take two 3rds, which was impressive on a difficult day. The boys topped the leaderboard after a reasonably short day on the water, followed by James Hammett and Piers Nicholls who took a bullet in the first race of the event. All female team Hannah Bristow and Jess Jobson topped the girls’ leaderboard with a consistent 2nd and 6th.
Thursday came and despite an ominous hailstorm as we launched, we were left with some perfect 7-12 knots for most of the day. With the lack of racing early in the week, the race committee were keen to get some results on the board, so aimed for a full day of 5 races. After the short squall/hailstorm, the breeze stabilised, and racing got underway. It seemed the staying in the pressure was the most important feature of the day. Ewan and I took the bias from the port end and stayed in the pressure throughout most of the race, but with Pierce Harris and Alfie Cogger close behind there was a battle on the second lap, with Ewan and I just clinching the win. The next 3 races followed suit, Ewan and I taking 3 bullets, Bella Fellows and Anna Sturrock also sailed consistently with a 3, 2, 5.
Princess Anne arrived to watch the racing at midday but unfortunately the royal arrival heralded a drop in the wind. The race committee struggled to lay a course and get going until a new south westerly breeze came through. Some lovely conditions of around 10-14kts brought change to the racing. The right side of the course, now further out of the tide was the way to go, with James and Piers using this well to get the win in race 6. In race 7 Freddie and Elliot fought hard against Ewan and I the entire way through, but we just managed to overtake on the second beat and had to defend hard on the run to take our 4th bullet of the day. Going into the last day, Bella and Anna led, 2 points ahead of Ewan and I, with both James and Piers and Freddie and Elliot 9 points behind us. Still everything was to play for.
Friday morning was breezy but looked sailable from the shore to sailors desperate to get out racing. The race committee made the decision to first send out the Lasers and 420’s before later releasing the Nacras and the 29ers. Once the Lasers had completed two races, we launched with our course area just to the right of the club. After a full send down to the start line, the race committee were keen to get a race away. The sailors a bit too much perhaps, resulting in a general recall. Once we were off the fleet split through the first beat but came together close at the top mark. Keeping it upright was key on the downwinds, sharp chop and big gusts surprised boats all through the fleet. by the second run the fleet was more spread out, but James and Piers still managed to find a gust out by the port ley line into the mark, taking 2 boats at the bottom mark and finishing in 2nd. Toby Cope and Harry Pulford took the win in a confident manner.
The breeze began to pick up even more, well over 20kts, but eager to get a race in, the race committee went into sequence. By the top, the majority of boats were struggling to even get upwind, let alone back down. The top mark was carnage and only 1 boat survived the run to the gate with their kite up - Luke and Ewan Gribbin. Looking at this, the race committee took the decision to abandon the race and get everyone ashore before it picked up even more.
Overall, with a safe result of 5th in race 8, Ewan and I topped the leaderboard, Bella and Anna in second, and James and Piers rounding off the podium. Bella and Anna were first all female boat with Hannah Bristow/Jess Jobson in second and Freya Black/Millie Aldridge in third. It was a great shame that the gales chose this week to hit the UK but the race committee managed to get in some great racing none the less.