Catapult racing at Calshot:

TT event in the 2012 Calshot

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Catapult returned to a favourite “southern” venue at Calshot Sailing Club, looking out across the Solent to Cowes (picture below.) The moderate (but changeable) SW breezes made the characteristic Solent challenges of tide and waves manageable through the weekend, although they played their usual part in the tactics.

(Above: Cliff rigs on Calshot beach, looking out over the Solent
to Cowes.)

   Race 1 shone little credit on the Catapult visitors---none of the Catapults, seeing most club boats still onshore, noticed the solitary Topper setting off at the advertised time on the tight lead start, until all flags were down.  Cliff Antill was the first to confidently set out, followed by Alastair Forrest, and Cliff extended his lead steadily round three triangular laps. From further back, George Evans gained gradually from his delayed start, but never threatened a position change.

   For Race 2  Alastair and Cliff were away well. Cliff now went lower for speed, down the first tight lead and on the next beat, gaining gradually over the next two laps. George pulled up from a delayed start, to push Alastair. On the final beat out into the Solent, to attempt to catch Cliff, Alastair tacked earlier out from the shore, risked lumpier seas in the hope of gaining from the ebbing tide, only to look back to see Cliff retire with a broken boom strop. Alastair's extra two tacks removed the tide gain, and George came through to narrowly lead, holding this downwind to the end.     

  Sunday brought the same SW breeze but starting under bright sunshine. The two races were planned around the Club's annual trip up to Ashlett Creek in Southampton Water, round Calshot spit, after a tight lead start and then a long reach out to the tripod marking the entrance to Southampton Water.

(Below: the target of the annual race to Ashlett---Catapults parked at the old quay, outside the pub.)

  The Ashlett race was Race 3 for the Catapults. Alastair saw the need to be away on the button, to avoid the slower club boats, getting a good lead as the others came slowly through a cloud of club Toppers. He held this along the fast reach out to the tripod in the tideway, and in the long beat back to Calshot Spit, he was the first to meet the wind under a rain-front, building what seemed an unassailable lead.

  Once past Calsot Spit, calmer water brought lighter wind, and George (further out in the tide into Southampton Water) came up relentlessly (leaving Cliff behind) and Alastair struggled for speed until he barely sneaked over the line at Ashlett entrance for the win.

 The next non-competitive challenge was tacking up the narrowing Ashlett Creek, until ghosting in to the quay in the shadow of the big tide-mill, to pull up the boats and have a late lunch pint (above).

 Race 4 started at Ashlett entrance, with a downwind start, turning chaotic (below.) Once clear, the three Catapults eked out small downwind gains (bottom picture below.) George, slightly ahead was the first to pick up the swing from NW to W in the breeze nearing the mouth of Southampton Water, tightening up and speeding to a good lead past the spit. Out in the Solent the wind picked up again back out to the turning tripod, and George consolidated the lead in the tight reach and final run. 

Below: a spinnaker dumped in the water on the start line adds to the confusion of a downwind start back to the Club.  (Photo: Calshot SC Rescue Crew)


(one discard)

             1st     George Evans               (3)             1                2                1                                   4

             2nd   Alastair Forrest             2               2                1                (2)                                5

             3rd    Cliff Antill                       1           ( DNF)           3                3                                    7

(Below: looking for scraps of advantage down Southampton Water, Race 4, George holding a fragile lead before stretching out) (Photo: Calshot SC Rescue Crew)


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