2017 Harken UK Musto Skiff National Championship
Venue :Brightlingsea SC
Date: 17 - 20 August 2017
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Day 1: George Hand
Day 2: No sailing due to high winds
Ashby, Peake, Pelley & Associates
Day 4: Paul Manning & Rick Perkins
Race 1 (14-18 knots, VERY choppy)
After negotiating the tricky creek, resulting in a short postponement, the fleet got away with a clean start to see Neil Ashby lead to the top mark with Andy Peake, Dan Trotter and Bruce Keen chasing at his heels. Bruce Keen took an impromptu swim on the hoist allowing George Hand and Richard Pelly to pass through and take 4th and 5th respectively. Neil, Andy and Dan retained their positions to the finish and after a blinder of a recovery;Bruce sailed through Richard and George to take 4th. Big Dave Poston, a sure favourite in these conditions, was noticeably absent having snapped his mast.
Race 2 (14-18 knots, still VERY choppy)
Race 2 saw a slightly over-eager Dan Trotter pick up the first OCS of the event, however with only an individual recall displayed, the rest of the fleet were able to continue without any dramas. Tom Wright took advantage of his blistering upwind pace and great leverage to round the top mark first, closely followed by George Hand and Bruce Keen. After a cat and mouse downwind leg, both Tom and George split at the leeward gate equal. However Georgous decided to go for a dunk, after having dropped his shiny new slippery mainsheet. Tom carried on his impressive lead to the finish with George chasing in second and Bruce in 3rd.
Keen and Rice came out of the traps well out off the port end both opting to tack up the middle crossing the fleet to bank their gain. Meanwhile Hilton and Peake came off the middle of the line and held good lane and speed well into the left hand corner. Tacking back, the tide advantage showed with Hilton and Keen arriving at the top mark in unison, Peaky close behind. Hilton gybe set to avoid the flooding tide and pulled out a healthy lead over Keen that he held to finish. There was a good ding-dong behind Bruce with Team Trotter and Tom Wright capitalizing on an uncharacteristic Peaky capsize. Great to see Big Dave back on the racetrack after his unscheduled pit stop. Full marks to the onshore support team.
Overnight Keen leads, from George Hand and Tom Wright.
Ashore and showered, the fleet enjoyed a few helpings of Brightlingsea hospitality and quiz raising over £250 for the RNLI.
Results after day 1
No sailing due to high winds
After a day spent bimbling and walking in the beautiful Essex countryside, the fleet were chomping at the bit to get back out on the water.
Race 4 and the wind on the course was a shifty 12-15 knots on a high tide with the sea state choppy, particularly in the last third of the run due to the committee boat laid close to the leeward shore.
Racing got underway at 10:40 with all sailors clear on the first time of asking with a general right/left split in the fleet with the right paying.
Andy Peaky rounded first with a good lead. Dan Kilsby, Jason Rickards and Paul Moley Molesworth keeping Keen honest. Peaky went right up the second beat, with George Hand and Bruce Keen closing in. Peaky managed to hold them off up to the windward mark and although the gaps narrowed down the final run, held on to take the win, closely followed by Hand and Keen.
Although much was expected of Graeme Oliver's return to the fleet after a five year absence, he didn't manage to fulfil his former potential. Tired and bruised, he limped home just inside the top 10, behind many of his previous conquests. As could have been forecast, Oliver's main woes were with his equipment, rather than any lack of skill, courage or nous. Little did he know, the nightmare had only just begun...
The ressure had increased to 18-20 knots and everybody was keen to start the next race. Neil Ashby led off the start closely followed by Ian Trotter up the left hand side of the course, which paid off very favourably. Ashby was first round the windward mark, Trotter second and the pack close on their heels. The wind shifted again and the second beat was favouring the right hand side this time. The steep chop was taking no prisoners on the runs with several capsizes and a high rate of attrition. At the bottom mark Dan Kilsby and Neil Ashby arrived at the mark at the same time making for an epic finish with Kilsby just ahead but dropping the kite and Ashby deploying his full 105kg frame to fly the kite over the finish line but only just!
Once again Graeme Oliver was nowhere to be seen at the front of the fleet adding more insult to his first race woes. His borrowed boat was allegedly the weakest link in his otherwise flawless campaign.
The final race of the day saw wind gusting to 20kts and an even nastier chop! The fleet was led around the windward by Keen followed by Jamie Hilton and Dan Trotter. Bruce took a quick trip down the mine and Jamie capsized at the drop leaving Dan Trotter leading round the bottom mark from Dan Kilsby and Tom Wright. The rest of the fleet were generally scattered across the course with keeping the mast above the boat the best tactic of the day. Tom sailed an excellent beat to win from Dan Trotter then Dan Kilsby. Bruce made a blinding recovery to finish a very close 4th.
Goliver had a poor first beat rounding in twentieth or so but bore away like a pro looking like he meant business. After a small amount of consideration a blue kite emerged from the chute, shortly followed by a trip down the mine, cementing his mid-fleet position. Ashby and Pelley took great amusement in this brave gamble whilst conservatively sailing down the final run minus their kites.
Back ashore the fleet enjoyed another fine feast courtesy of Brightlingsea SC and look forward to a slightly more gentle day tomorrow with 10-12 knots forecast. The leaderboard is very tight at the top with the podium separated by a point so it's all to play for!
Results after Day 3
The final day of racing dawned bright and sunny at Brightlingsea and the fleet promptly launched in the morning breeze of 8-10knots.
With the top 3 split by just a single point it was going to be a battle royal for the title ...
Following a short postponement they got away at the first attempt with an individual recall, with Andy Tarboton impressing the committee boat team with his skills of holding position to secure the committee boat end of the line.
The breeze remained consistent in strength but with shifts and pressure changes making for some good tactical decision making. Ben Schooling led at the windward mark from Richard Pelley and overall event challenger Bruce Keen in 3rd. Keen had overhauled Pelley to take the regatta lead and held on to take the win from Schooling and Kilsby.
Overnight event leader Tom Wright didn’t have a great race, finishing in 17th, putting pressure on him for the series and with was some nervous looks on the faces of the 3 leaders wondering if one of them had been OCS as they came up to the line to finish.
The breeze remained constant allowing the PRO to rapidly turn the fleet around and get race 8 under way. However, they were overeager and were called back. The fleet had calmed down after a short break and got away cleanly on the second attempt. It has been notable that the race officer has not had to roll out the black flag for the whole regatta.
George Hand led at the windward mark with overall event challengers Dan Trotter and Bruce Keen in 2nd and 3rd. Wright made a superb recovery on the 2nd beat and final run to pull through to take 3rd with Schooling winning from Andy Tarboton and Dan Trotter in 4th and Keen in 5th. This changed everything and meant that race 9 was looking like a cliff hanger. Keen led, just, from Wright and Dan Trotter, but race 9 also meant the 2nd discard would kick in and Wright had a worse discard than both Dan Totter and Keen (a 7th against 5th and 5th…). This meant that only a race win would allow Wright to overhaul Keen and if Trotter won Keen would need to finish lower than 4th.
The big question was; would points leader Keen engage in some match racing with Wright whilst keeping an eye on Trotter or just sail his own race?
Race 9 got away clear and Kilsby led at the windward mark from Schooling and Stuart Keegan. UK class chairman, Ben Schooling was having a great day, whilst the battle for the title ragged just behind him, and took the lead on the 1st downwind, with Keegan rounding in 2nd and Kilsby in 3rd. Unbeknown to the fleet, the radio comms had gone into overdrive as the message came through that the breeze had dropped at the weather mark. A brief discussion from the PRO and his excellent team concluded that it wouldn’t be possible to shorten course in time at the first leeward gate, so the leaders rounded in around 6-7 knots and the PRO jumped ship and speeded up to the windward mark to set up to finish the fleet there.
Meanwhile, the calculators and pens and paper were out establishing what the standings were as the fleet worked their way up the final beat of the championships. Keen had started the race leading counting 17 points and trying to improve on a 4th, Wright was on 18 points and had to be top 3 and ahead of Keen and Dan Trotter was on 20 points and also had to win and needed some poor results from the others, oh, and the tide had turned against the fleet!
Schooling continued to lead, always trying to stay in pressure and between the chasing pack, but the wind was becoming fickle in the last third of the beat. Schooling was furthest right on port and still leading but the wind starting lifting inside him. A bit of pressure came in so he took the option to tack and crossed the 6-7 chasing boats to consolidate. Wright and Keegan held on on port tack in the new pressure and sailed beyond the layline to counteract the tide. Keegan lost pressure and fell back, but Wright, having over-stood slightly footed in with pace to take the win by 10 seconds from Keegan and Schooling, with Keen in 7th and Dan Trotter not managing to improve on his discard. This result made Tom Wright the Harken UK Musto Skiff National Champion winning by just 2 points ...
It is worth noting that Tom joined the class at 16 (he is now 26) and, along with other young sailors such as Dan Trotter, George Hand and Dan Henderson, has mastered the class through the classes open culture and of course their own enthusiasm and skill.
A massive thanks to Brightlingsea Sailing Club and its members for laying on a memorable championship and to Harken as regatta title sponsors as well as class sponsors Hyde Sails and Musto. And finally, to Ovington Boats for their enthusiastic support of our class.
Final results >>>