Catapult Travelling Trophy: Pagham Yacht Club, Sussex

Saturday 5 - Sunday 6 June 2010


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   Catapult returned in June to the hospitable Pagham Sailing Club after a three year gap in theit UL catamaran racing programme, and had for two typical English seaside summer days --- hot hazy sunshine, and families out on the steep pebble beach, watching the boats and the tide gradually cover the remains of a sunken Mulberry Harbour unit (a significant underwater obstruction)

Four boats came down, with only three starters on Saturday. For all the races, the club set triangle-plus-windward-leeward laps, with a shore-based start.

On Saturday, a light ESE breezes 2-3 meant that the start was a short reaching leg to mark 1, then beginning the triangle-plus-windward-leeward laps.

With enough breeze to keep the boats moving, tactics were around finding the best pressure (more further out) against stemming the slow westwards tide. The four Catapults attending through the weekend remained very close in boat speed, so the goal was to keep moving smoothly in the small but sometimes lumpy seas.

In Race 1, Alastair Forrest was well away ahead of Neal Graneau. Cliff Antill (further back after tangling the start) stood out to sea for breeze, but lost out to the tide. Alastair stayed first around the first combined lap, with the boats showing even speed with Neal closing up hard at times.

Cliff, still back kept the tactic of going out to sea for the beat, now seemingly at less disadvantage. For the last windward-leeward lap, Alastair seemed to have enough in hand, but Neal came downwind relentlessly and seemed to have it, but the last gybe and tighter run up to the line gave Alastair a win by half a boat-length

For Race 2, Alastair led away from Neal, with Cliff downwind and behind. Cliff again went out to sea beating, and now was gaining with this tactic. On the second beat, he swept in at the windward mark, putting Neal behind him. Alastair attempted to tack below Cliff, and paid the predictable penalty of stalling and falling onto the mark.

Neal set off after Cliff, who was not troubled in holding his lead, and Alastair stayed at the back out of contention.

Sunday arrived with confident forecasts of fresh SW wind but little sign of it, the wind WNW and 2-3. The Race Officer set the triangle-W/L course for the expected swing south, hoping for a start on the wind with the swing, but the shore-based line remained heavily biased.

Starting Race 3 Alastair, away first and well to windward of Neal, was able to lay the first mark, and the short tacks put in by the others gained him a good lead. With the course still a series of leads and reaches, Johnís good boat-speed pulled him gradually up from a start well back to threaten but not catch Neal, while Cliff never found speed to recover from starting behind. The order remained, with the final lap extending Alastairs lead and Neal and John only yards apart at the finish.

For Race 4, on the same course, Alastair led off from Neal, with Cliff electing to point lower for evident extra speed. Alastair held his short lead through the first lap, now chased by Cliff but overall was not finding boat-speed against the others.

The breeze began its predicted swing to the SW and increased, with Cliff beginning to trapeze the tight leads (feeling right although not gaining.) Neal pulled up on Alastair, to then fall back recovering a halliard problem The next beat saw Cliff take the lead, followed by Neal. John came up to catch Alastair on the broad leads in the freshening breeze

(John commented later on the need to sheet in on the reaches until the only the windward telltales are streaming---it needs constant checking that it is not over-sheeted, but improves speed over both sets streaming, the logical position.)

The last lap had the breeze finally in its correct SW place with a true beat, but produced only widening gaps holding these places. By the time all the boats were ashore, there were sparkling whitecaps, and chip-papers and small children were being blown briskly along the shore.


Results

   Cliff Antill                    5
Alastair Forrest            5
Neal Graneau               6
John Peperell               12



Cliff gained the win for the event on count-back (winning the last race). One point covers the first three. Neal, showing consistency, beat each of the first two as often as they beat him

Overall, the close racing showed that basic boat speeds and sail performance seemed the same across the boats, and that the differences were in the tactics for the start and beating, and getting the extra small piece of boat speed

Pagham was an attractive as well as welcoming venue, giving the TT an open sea option. The short steep shingle beach was easy to launch from in the conditions on the day. It appears a daunting slope returning tired to shore, but each boat comes up quickly with the towline on an electric winch and a quick joint effort boat by boat.