Catapult Catamaran Racing:

Opening TT event: Bewl Water, Sunday April 3rd

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  The 2011 Catapult Travelling Trophy event kicked off with excellent close racing, hosted again by Bewl Valley Sailing Club. A big Topper fleet packed the foreshore on Saturday and Sunday, so the event felt high season rather than a cautious beginning. Eventually five Catapults joined the fast handicap start (with the sixth, Alex Montgomery, nursing a strained arm, to be the photographer on shore for these pictures.)

   John Peperell mounted a new sail, cut down by him from the 13 sq.m laminated Kevlar mesh sail used for the 5.5m experimental boat. Good speed from the off raised the unfair suspicion that he had cut only 2 sq.m off, but he was sure that this flatter sail was more manageable than his current fuller Sobstad.

(Below: Close running---Alastair, John, Paul and Dave compete  downwind, John's new sail centre)

catamaran racing Bewl

    Patches of sunshine and a good but manageable breeze made the Spring start very easy. The westerly stayed gusty through the day with bursts around 15-17 knots or a little more, falling back to 7-10 and quiet occasional lulls. Tactically it was essential to grab the sustained gusts, as 30 yards upwind could be gained, and 50 yards or more downwind when a run became a burst of fast reaching.
   The club set the same rhomboid course for two pairs of back to back races, with a tactical question never clearly answered---whether to take shorter boards along the lee shore, or stand out to where there seemed more wind in the middle of the lake.

The shore-based start kept a marked port end bias, with little room at the starboard end of the line (risking both weed and a wind-shadow) restricting the option of zooming down on starboard at the port end, although this remained the favoured tactic.

  In Race 1, Paul Ellis rounded first and then extended his lead steadily, an ominous sign for the others. Cliff Antill pulled back after a slow start to third behind John holding second, and in a close bunch with Dave Jennings battled around the long race until John pulled away again for second.

Alastair Forrest was well back, but gained on the third beat tacking out into the lake, and a welcome gust doing this again when beating for the line saw him snatch 4th from Dave and threaten Cliff. 

(Below: Paul gets away upwind (for the race and the event) while Alastair and Cliff still run down.)

Beginning Race 2, Paul led Cliff away on a good starboard start at the port end, with John starting late on port, followed still later by Alastair---but Alastair then found his forced leg to the shore got him a sustained lift and a first lap lead from John.

  The next beat saw Paul pull up, to power across to the mark on starboard, catching Alastair on port, who tacked just below him (nerves on both boats fraught at the high-speed meeting) and then was close enough to catch Paul again downwind.

The next beat and run saw Paul again holding the lead, just ahead. Cliff caught John, but was again caught. Dave this time did not hold the speed from Race 1.

   (Below: Race 2: Paul leads Cliff in a good start on starboard (background) but Alastair's dreadful late port start (foreground) is taking him to an undeserved  big lift along the shore.)

  In Race 3, Paul at the top mark was followed closely by Alastair, and they stretched away after John and Cliff tangled and stalled behind them at the windward mark. Alastair was close enough to catch Paul downwind and lead after lap 1, with John and Cliff tight together further back. Cliff tried some brief trapezing in the longer gusts with no obvious gain.

   Paul took back the lead upwind, and on lap 3 Cliff climbed to 2nd Alastair dropped back, and Dave pulled up.

(Below: Dave pushes Cliff downwind whil a cloud of Toppers wait.)

   For Race 4, Alastair converted a good start to a useful lead near the top mark only to have the rig trip and Paul go past, to hold a lead to the finish. Cliff followed Alastair closely around the laps (including picking up his hat knocked off gybing) the distance closing and opening.

Alastair led around the last mark, but Cliff bore off for speed in the final beat to cross narrowly for 2nd, clinching second place for the event. John stayed further back in 4th through the race and Dave elected to warm up on shore for this one.


   FINAL POINTS (One discard)

First         Paul Ellis                    3 points

Second    Cliff Antill                   7    

Third        John Peperell             8     

Fourth     Alastair Forrest         9    

Fifth         Dave Jennings          16    

(Left: Paul (507) Cliff (17) and Dave (2090) ease upwind)

   (Below: A busy spring Sunday morning at Bewl Valley SC.)

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