Catapult Northerns and TT at Bridlington
August 23rd-25th 2012: Royal Yorkshire Yacht Club

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Catapult joined the Dinghy Section of the Royal Yorkshire YC in their Cat Regatta for the Catapult Northerns on the August BH weekend, back to the wide sandy beach at Bridlington (photo below) and the relaxed welcome returning there.

 Brid lived up to its place in the Catapult calendaras the main open-sea venue , with a mixed menu of winds and seas, and a sharp test for the fleet on the final day. Gareth Ede mastered these for a comfortable winning score for the Northerns, but had to work in a tight fleet. Gareth's wins took him up the Leader Board  but did not displace John Terry as the yellow pennant holder.

 For two races back-to-back on Saturday, the Club set a figure-8 course in a light but useful NE breeze. The making tide, running against the breeze, gave enough chop to make boat speed upwind a crucial factor. The Clubís four fixed marks spread across the open sea gave long legs, so that the Dart 18s sharing the Regatta acted as pathfinders to the distant marks.

  In Race 1
from a heavily-biased port start, Stuart Ede and then Gareth Ede were away, Gareth holding a small lead from Alastair Forrest by the first upwind mark. George Evans showed the good upwind speed he kept for most of the weekend, catching Alastair. Downwind, Stuart closed up on runs (electing to stand to get extra "push" on the long runs.)   Beginning the beat on the long second lap, Alastair tacked early predicting that the making tide would push to the upwind mark, lifting him to close the leaders but again he could not find enough boat-speed to hold the gain on Gareth. On the final run, behind Gareth, Alastair was inches away from George side by side, but a move away gybing twice to look for speed tightening up was fruitless.

Race 2 followed back-to-back, down to a single long lap on the same course, now with the tide noticeably sweeping to windward.
From a starboard start, Justin Evans powered in to the windward mark, catching George to gift a good lead to Alastair, but Gareth's speed overall, and George's upwind speed tightened the fleet. After the next tight reach, Justin, Gareth and Alastair ran down as a wall a few feet apart, while George and Stuart moved right, eventualy half a mile away.

 They all came together to show just how difficult it was to gain an advantage, but George and Gareth again eked out upwind gains, and George chasing Gareth finally pipped him on the line. Behind, an equally-close battle on the final flat run to the finish saw Stuart successfully counter
 Alastairís inch by inch gains, to hold third by a boat-length.

  Sunday morning brought a moderate to fresh NW breeze, against the tide for most of the racing with a demanding chop. The three races used all four marks in a figure-of-eight. Slight wind shifts removed any long beat from the complex course, with two legs now almost able to be laid other than short final tacks, making boat speed in the waves even more crucial.

The Race 3 starboard start was won by Stuart and Alastair, but Gareth came through from behind at speed , and set the pattern of upwind dominance through the day, building a lead. Alastair could not gain boat speed, while Georgeís good upwind speed brought him up on Stuart. Cliff Antill (joining the fleet) tacked early onto a long port board into shore, with separation from the fleet of a half a mile, returning to the upwind mark with a gain.

 While Gareth stretched out, the next run pulled the rest of the fleet together, until Alastairís tripped shroud put him to the back. The final beat had Cliff on Stuartís shoulder on starboard as they came to the line, Stuart timing the final tack across on port just well enough to require Cliff to tack onto his own proper course to the line, to take second by two seconds. .

 In Race 4, in the same wind strength, Gareth again came fast through the starboard start and caught the first starters, to begin building a lead he extended to the end. He trapezed upwind, but could still use the technique of driving the leeward hull while keeping the windward hull high,  just flying the hull or letting it kiss the advancing chop with less wave impact than the boats sailed flat.

 Behind him, Alastair having won the start led the chasing pack. Cliff (trapezing) and Stuart went lower for speed to drive through the chop, without a clear gain. George again had good speed pointing up, but with the fleet close, at the windward mark, Justin caught him on starboard as he tacked across to the mark on port, frustrating his pursuit of Alastair. George pulled back up the next beat to hold second by a useful margin, while Cliff and Alastair swapped places until Alastair could guard him carefully home on the long final tight lead from a thirty-yard lead to windward .

Race 5
followed back to back. The strengthening northward tide complicated the start, with any boats approaching the line slowly swept towards and above the line, so that the correct tactic was a late fast approach, again used well by Gareth. Cliff trapezing now had good speed going lower. George's start was delayed, and this time he never built the relentless up-wind progress of the earlier races, and Justin nailed him for the fifth place. All the fleet had Gareth closer although he was not threatened. Alastair and Stuart pulled up on Cliff on the long runs, but the beats (again heavily biased, with no direct windward leg) suited Cliff's trapezing, to gain him second.

The situation changed again Monday, as a front brought in a freshening southerly (the rain holding off to the afternoon.) It was clear heading out for Race 6 that although the sea conditions exceeded the wind strength (which stayed just below trapezing throughout) the building SW swell and a steep overlying chop put the boats on the limit. Garethís light weight made it unsurviveable, and so only five boats jumped and plunged out to the distant start mark.

A port start took a tight fleet in towards the shore, with Cliff going lower to break through the steep waves, not finding greater speed, and a downhaul failure for Stuart extended Alastairís lead at the windward mark. He extended this down the hairy broad reach to the shore mark, with the boats rushing down the face of the swell until the bows dipped deep into the back of the next wave, not enough wind strength to complete the nosedive (although one of the Dart 18s cartwheeled.)

  George and Justin followed grimly on, while Stuart after repairs thought it pointless to crash on alone at the back. Alastair's search for mark B let Cliff into the lead and the others came up, but Alastair again gained upwind, just behind Cliff at the turn, with the welcome view of a shortened finish at the end of the run. The run demonstrated the need to risk inching forward to get surfing down the swell (coming irregularly) with the fear of plunging the bows too deep. Alastair caught Cliff with half a boat length advantage 50 metres from the line---but Cliff caught a steep wave and surfed away across for the first place, clear by a boat length


                                                                                (one discard *)

              Place   Sail        Helm                           R1       R2       R3      R4       R5      R6           Points

   521         Gareth Ede                 1          2         1          1         1           9*             6

 510         George Evans            2          1         3          2          5*       3               11

     524         Alastair Forrest         3          4         6*        3         3          2               15
      531        Stuart Ede                  4          3         2          6          4          9*             19

      17          Cliff Antill                    9*        9         4          4          2          1               20

                 6       518       Justin Evans               5          5         5          5          6*        4               24
     195         Damien Cooney        9*        9         7          9          9          9                43

                 8      230         Steve Fenner            9*        9         9          9          9           9               45

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