Catapults open the 2013 season at Bewl Water
Sunday April 14th


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    Spring arrived just in time for the Catapult opening races for the 2013  season and Bewl Valley Sailing Club gave their characteristic warm welcome (including engraved glass prizes.)  A southerly breeze gradually building by afternoon to the expected 30 mph gusts gave an exciting and  testing three races, all around a long "W" course around the reservoir, giving a long beat and three storming reaches. Half the six-strong fleet suffered a capsize but the Catapults dominated the water through the day.

   Confusion reigned as the morning  racing  got underway: the Race 1 class flag went up, broke away and vanished. with the boats assuming a new start would be set. Eventually as the horns sounded and ceased,  John Terry and Alex Montgomery decided that the start must have happened and tore away followed by the rest,  bar Cliff Antill, who  played it by the book, that no flag meant no start.

 John and Alex set up a great battle in front exchanging the lead, with the rest still in touch. John Peperell with his reduced 8.5 sqm sail (which keeps the full-length luff, photo further below) had good upwind speed, and bursts on the reaches, but was handicapped downwind when the gusting breeze dropped back.

 
  The second beat began dramatically as John Terry capsized with a caught mainsheet in a big gust, the boat quickly turning turtle as the gust pressed on the tramp, then being unable to right as the mast hit bottom, until dismantling it on shore. Alex stretched away, while behind Alastair Forrest gained by keeping out from the wind shadows downwind, but could not prevent Paul Ellis coming through and stretching away to take second.

(Below: the wind builds across Bewl Water over lunch.)



Race two, following back to back, started in equal confusion as Alex and then Paul had not heard clear guns to finish race one, setting off on a long third lap. Meanwhile the fleets gathered for the next start. Alex arrived back with 50 seconds to go for a good start in the tight four-person fleet with Paul coming in late behind. The increasingly-gusting conditions made for difficult tactics, with sudden gains and losses, and unpredictable wind shadows, with exciting fast bursts upwind and down. Four helms trapezed, with only variable gains.
 
  Alex stretched out during the two long laps for a comfortable win. Cliff built on a good start and battled comfortably enough with Alastair to hold second round the laps, with Paul steadily pulling up from his late start but unable to catch the front three.

After lunch, the sun came out, but this shone on a building breeze with dark gusts across the lake. The trepidation felt looking out (photo above) was confirmed  when Alex headed out to then capsize (banged over sideways by a gust) recovering in time to start the racing spite of a torn sail panel.

 Paul Ellis gave a first trial of the cut-down sail made for him by John, and was clear that this gave him greater control overall, still at times trapezing stably upwind, and picking up the bursts of reaching speed as the  gusts arrived, although the reduced sail suffered against the full rigs during any lulls on the reaches

(Right: John Peperell's reduced rig on the right, showing the 1.5 sqm area taken out of the roach high up.)

  In Race three, the Catapults were away in a bunch led by Cliff who battled with Alex for the lead.

  In lap two, Alex pulled away from Cliff, for a comfortable third win. In the competition for third, Alastair had the reaching speed with the full sail to come in ahead of Paul,  with John also with the reduced sail behind.

                                                                           RESULTS

                         1st      Alex Montgomery           1              1             (1)           3
 
                       
2nd      Cliff Antill                      (DNF)          2             2              4

                      
 3rd      Paul Ellis                           2               4            (4)             6

                       
4th     Alastair Forrest                3               3            (3)             6

                         5th      John Peperell                  4               5            (5)             9

                         6th      John Terry                     DNF         DNS        (DNS)         14

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