Catapult TT at Carsington
Catamaran Open Meeting September 21st-22nd

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  Catapult returned to the Carsington Cat Open sharing the event with the Dart 16 Nationals and Youth Championship (and contributing the biggest class fleet there after the Sprint 15's.) The last of the Indian summer gave Saturday sunshine but the wind died after lunch, and after attempted starts, racing was abandoned (photo below.)

 Sunday brought the beginnings of the low coming north, and with rain and wind due across the UK, the club elected three back-to back races before lunch, in good racing breeze, 3-4 from ESE, slowly building and swinging unpredictably.

 The wind direction made the courses short, and the windward mark needed tactical planning (or luck)
in the crowd of boats of different speeds----if you went to the right to approach the mark safely on starboard, it risked "dead" patches, while a port approach in good breeze could meet the line of starboard boats not offering any space.

The club aimed to set a mix of windward-leeward and trapezoid courses---in the curtailed event, only one trapezoid ran (suiting Catapult) adding to the tactical challenges threading the short windward-leeward course with cats tacking upwind and down.

   (Below: the fleet comes out in the light Saturday breeze, and then drifts as the wind dies.)

catapult sailing at carsington

   In Race 1 Paul Ellis took the starboard pin end from Alastair Forrest, and moved out ahead, pointing high and building a good lead with his upwind speed in the next laps. Alastair removed himself from the chasing pack by tipping the first distance mark with his boom. As with the whole event, the fleet kept close-enough contact to keep the tension up. Gareth Ede pulled through the fleet to push Paul back to third, and then battle for the lead until John Terry held on to record his first win. In the chasing fleet, Cliff Antill kept steady pressure pulling up to fourth.

For Race 2 the OOD set the trapezoid course suiting Catapult, with the wind increasing slightly and becoming more shifty with a bias towards the left. John picked the shift, and having seen that the fleet held back on the first race start, did a port tack flyer, hitting the pin end just 10 seconds before the gun with a gust to lift him, and flying across the starboard fleet. Tacking about half way up the course onto starboard and then using the gusts to get lifted to the windward mark he rounded well ahead of the fleet.

In the next group  chasing him, Chris Phillips watched Alastair's rig swing wildly as a forestay snap shackle undid. He staggered to the next mark until the rig came over backwards. (See p.s. below)

As the race progressed John touched the spreader mark with his boom and had to do his turns. The race course became more congested as the local club racing course crossed the catamaran visitors' course. Gareth made best use of the winds by trapezing in the marginal conditions, coming up through the fleet, and getting good downwind gains on John, to pass and win. Paul was close behind John and was about to overtake on the last downwind leg as a gust filled in but John held on the to leeward make and reached across the finish line just ahead. George Evans was pushing hard behind for fourth, with Justin Evans taking 5th.

 (Below: tight fleets at the leeward mark: in the Catapults, Cliff (foreground) rounds below Paul, with John behind, and Gareth about to round.)

Race 3 the swinging breeze was up enough to let John and Paul join Gareth with some trapezing. The course was back to windward-leeward, the mingling fleets cooperating in rapid port-starboard decisions passing upwind and down. John's dive at the start past Alastair took the starboard end of the line, to set him up to build a good lead upwind, but Gareth again pulled through the fleet to fight it out.

 George sorted out his mast rotation to get better speed, to pull in third ahead of Paul. Further back, Justin Evans gained increasing downwind speed, pushing more draft in with batten tension.

   Leading John at the final windward turn, Gareth was the victim of doubtful claims for right-of-way from other fleets, and was pushed onto the mark, his sporting 360' letting John away for the win, and for the TT event win. John and Gareth took 2nd and 3rd in the Open fleet, behind a single-handed Dart 18.

(Below: George Evans crosses the finish, for fourth in the Catapult TT, amongst the Dart 16s.)


Helm                              Race places                Event points

                             1     John Terry                    1          2          1                    4

                             2     Gareth
Ede                    2          1         2                    5

                             3     Paul Ellis                      3           3          4                   10

                             4     George Evans               6           4          3                   13

                             5     Cliff Antill                      4           7          5                  16

                             6     Justin Evans                  7           5          6                   15

Chris Phillips                 8           6          8                   22
                             8     Alastair Forrest              5          11         7                   23

                             9     Nigel Harrison               9           8          9                   26

                            10     Steve Fenner               11         11        10                  32

(Below, left: Gareth (91) chases John (522) as John starts to gybe in close quarter racing downwind.)

(Below, right: John Terry accepts the second place prize in the Open fleet, winning the Catapult TT event.)

 (p.s: Looking back afterwards, Alastair realised he could have handled the loose forestay differently, by heading dead downwind with the rig pushed forward and still upright, to then beach on the lee shore, and leap ashore to re-attach. Easy to see later!)

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