Catapult TT at Stone Week
July31st-August 2nd

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Catapult was back to the hospitality of Stone SC July 31st-August 2nd , running a TT event as part of Stone Week. The warm welcome from the club again  included the evening entertainment. The three days of the TT event were alongside the Unicorn Nationals, with Catapult racing in a fast handicap fleet.

The breeze stayed west through south for the three days, varying in strength, and with the distinctive Blackwater challenge of the breeze against the making tide later in the afternoons.

For Race 1 with the tide streaming out aligned with the breeze, Alastair Forrest and Mike Gough made good use of the strong port bias on the fixed start, both building a good lead with Mike riding over Alastair upwind. Both headed too high on the reach, to the wrong mark fortunately drawing all the other Catapults after them, and including the right mark in the process. Downwind the immediate issue revealed itself of weed going out with the tide, a few inches below the surface so that it could not be swerved around, so long downwind leg involved all the boats in a ritual of lifting each centreboard and rudder in succession (photo below) veering around the course.

On the next long upwind leg back to the club, John found breeze in-shore to make a big gain, and then John by realising the right course at the top mark made a further gain, to catch Mike in the final beat. George Evans came up fast and then got the best lift to the line to pick up the win with John Terry second.

By Race 2 following back-to-back, the wind had swung further to the south-west, and John further out on the start line gained a small lead. Downwind the weed again preoccupied the helms. In the long beat back, Alastair stayed out in the tideway, while the others sought the breeze near shore, with a gain to be close behind John Terry, who kept the front place and then extended his lead back up-wind on lap 2 to the finish. Mike Gough came up to take the third place

(Right: tackling the weed downwind; Paul pulls the rudders while Mike watches him veer to windwind.)

On Tuesday the Club set a figure-of-eight course for Race 3, and with the wind in the southwest John and Paul Ellis just made it directly to the top mark for a good lead, held to the end, with John winning out. With the others forced to tack, Alastair put in tacks to the shallows near the shore, losing time but able to come into the mark fast across the strong tidal stream.  George, pinching up in the short final leg to the mark hit it emphatically (photos below!) Mike came up downwind to battle with Alastair for the third place, closing downwind and catching him  on the next short beat,  but in the lap 2 beat to the club stayed out in the tideway to fall back. George and Syd Gage lifted on the final beat at slack water to close on Mike, who held onto the fourth.

(Above and right: negotiating the top mark in the tideway, or not.) (Evidence supplied by Syd's on-board camera.)

In Race 4 (following back-to-back) the large fast-dinghy contingent pounded across the line on a tight lead, bringing a mass re-start, and this time John , starting at the far end of the line was away like a rocket to an immediate lead, which he held and extended over  two laps to the finish. In the next close pack, Alastair was preoccupied with using the tide up-wind, and forgot that there was a further mark close to shore, so began beating back immediately. He attributed his gain over Paul to his clever tidal tactics. In the next beat after the second long downwind run, Alastair again turned at the wrong mark to beat back, so convincingly that George chasing on his stern followed him, with both disqualified. To complete the chapter of accidents, Mike was dismasted just short of the finish with a shroud clip failure, to reward Syd’s steady pursuit with the third place.

(Below: part of the Catapult fleet on a tight reach from the start-line---heading straight into the previous fleet coming down fast on starboard! John Terry is already way out in front)
(Photo Syd Gage's on-board camera.)

Race 5 on the same figure-8 course followed a leisurely lunch break, with the sunshine breaking through and a fresh SW wind, so the fast tight lead from the start took the Catapults through the Unicorn fleet reaching down their third leg, an approach speed of around 25 knots! John again pushed to the front upwind, chased by Paul. The tide on the upwind mark again trapped George, and Mike successfully fought Alastair and then moved out ahead with better upwind speed, and in turn George came back upwind to regain fourth. Mike caught Paul as he struggled with a dislodged tiller bar to take the second, while John remained out in front for his third successive win on the day.

(Below: John gets to the front after the start, R5)

On Wednesday morning the forecast stronger wind arrived, with some pensive gazing at the dark gusts across the estuary. John with his successive wins meaning  certain victory could  avoid a battle with the waves over the tide, but the remaining four out on the water for Race 6 found the conditions readily manageable.
 The  Catapults were away bunched on a tight reaching start, and boat speed on the first upwind leg established an order of Paul, George, Mike and Alastair, maintained around two figure-of-eight laps.

 Paul got a gun near his finishing time, but the hooters were silent for the others, and Syd rushed down to tell the fleet as it approached the beach that the course had
not been shortened and they were a lap short. The pack set off again for a final lap, and this "second" race was a repeat of the first, with upwind boat speed determining the outcomes, this time with George pulling through for the win ahead of Paul.


Rank HelmName R1
R4 R5 R6 Total Nett
1st John Terry 2 1 1 1 1 (7 DNC) 9 6
2nd Paul Ellis (7 DNF) 5 2 2 3 2 21 9
3rd George Evans 1 4 5 (7 DNF) 4 1 22 15
4th Mike Gough 4 3 4 (7 DNF) 2 3 23 16
5th Alastair Forrest 3 2 3 (7 DNF) 5 4 23 17
6th Syd Gage 7 DNF 6 5 3 6 (7 DNC) 36 28


Rank HelmName R1
R4 R5 R6 Total Nett
1st Mike Gough 1 1 1 (7 DNF) 1 1 12 5
2nd Paul Ellis (7 DNC) 4 2 2 2 2 19 15
3rd John Terry 4 3 4 1 3 (7 DNC) 22 15
4th Alastair Forrest 3 2 5 (7 DNF) 5 4 26 19
5th George Evans 2 5 6 (7 DNF) 4 3 27 20
6th Syd Gage 6 6 3 3 7 (7 DNC) 32 25

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