Thursday, May 21, 2015
Over the weekend of 16th/17th May 11 F18s visited the North Kent coast to Minnis Bay S.C to contest the seasons 2nd TT in conjunction with the Shearwater Fleet TT. Both Classes enjoyed some fabulous racing with some tricky wind shifts and a strong tidal flow in the Thames Estuary. With this affecting tactical decisions as to which way to go upwind and downwind it was never an easy racecourse to get to grips with.
After a long sail out to the racecourse area which had been moved east to give competitors a larger area to race in, the fleet got away cleanly at the first attempt and headed inshore out of the heading tide and into flatter water. Local F18 sailor Simon Northrop sailing with Josh O’Brien having been buried off the start and forced to tack out to sea came good as they had noticed more breeze out to sea and a favourable right shift which negated the strong tide and they lead by a large margin at the first mark a lead they extended throughout as the wind went even further right and made the course one sided, 2nd Place was taken by Grant Piggott / Adam Kay and 3rd by William Sunnucks and Freddie White
With the course reset for race 2 the wind had dropped considerable and White/Stoneham took an early lead on the first lap only to lose several places at the leeward mark as the fleet barrelled down in new pressure from behind, Piggott/Kay took the lead for a while but then were overhauled by Northrop/O’Brien who were playing the shifts nicely and once in front never looked back to take their 2nd win of the day with Piggott/Kay 2nd and Paul Wakelin and Oli Greber. 3rd.
With the wind stabilising slightly and the tide easing White/Stoneham established the lead and covered Northrop/O’Brien all-round the track until the finish where much to their dismay they failed to get the Gun as they had been OCS at the start, this allowed Northrop/O’Brien to take yet another win with Nathaniel Ward / Caleb Cooper 2nd and Piggott/Kay third. The fleet retired home to the beach where the ever helpful members of the home club had walked out their trolleys to the Low tide mark to ease recovery and with a fantastic Curry and “Doom Bar” Sponsored evening all F18 sailors were up late and partying hard with the fantastic Shearwater fleet.
With the racecourse now moved back into the Bay and in full view of all the spectating families and friends and a steady 15 knots of breeze and bright sunshine this was glamour catamaran sailing at its best.
Northrop/O’Brien’s local knowledge paid handsomely off the start as they were only boat to start on port and head out to sea and although they had to duck a few boats to get there the racecourse with the strong flooding tide was very one sided and after rounding the top mark with a huge lead never looked back to take the win, the chasing fleet was very close and a battle for second was one by the “Flying Cow” of Team Edge sailors Matt Young and Simon Farren taking 2nd from Piggott/Kay in 3rd.
Again Northrop/O’Brien were first out to sea after another port start, Young/Farren were chasing hard though and these two pulled well clear of the rest of the fleet where a royal battled ensued with the 2 boats never more than a couple of boats apart – Young/Farren led for a lap and on the 3rd downwind leg with Northrop/O’Brien no more than a boat length from their transom and both boats travelling at almost 20 knots the Edges Spinnaker Halyard snapped and Northrop did well to miss them but O’Brien suffered a slight injury to his shoulder though bravely carried on racing!!
After this mishap Young/Farren retired to shore for repairs leaving Northrop/O’Brien to take another race win and the regatta win convincingly, White/Stoneham took 2nd with Wakelin/Cooper 3rd.
The wind had dropped for the last race of the regatta to a gentle breeze and after a quick trip to the beach to change crews Northrop was back this time sailing with Shearwater crew Chloe Stewart just 13 years old and having never been on an F18 before!! Having quickly shown her which bits of string to pull (an F18 is somewhat different to a classic Shearwater!) they nailed the start and led the race for the first lap before White/Stoneham sneaked past downwind and were never to be headed to take a well-deserved win from Northrop/Stewart in 2nd and Piggott/Kay 3rd.
In all Northrop/O’Brien dominated the event taking 5 out of the 6 races, Piggott/Kay finished 2nd with White/Stoneham taking the final podium slot.
Thanks must go out to all the helpers at MBSC, the Race Committee and Race Team who made for a very enjoyable and unforgettable weekend and lastly to the Shearwater fleet with their Main Sponsor “DoomBar” providing 2 Kegs of the Ale for the winning F18 and Shearwater Teams.
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