Catapult Nationals at Bala
July 29th-30th

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Catapult was back to Bala Sailing Club for the 2018 Nationals, again sharing the event with the Tinker Tramps Inland Championships (two long-established sailing classes, with inflatable technology for lightness and convenience, and close racing.) Well-organized racing let the two contrasting fleets (and the club fleet  on  Sunday) share the starting line and first short beat, the Tinkers then taking different courses  to manage a 4-fold speed difference.

(As a further hospitable gesture, the Club opened for Catapult on Friady preceding the Nationals, allowing the full menu of Fun races to go ahead in the sunshine. (Report and photos)

  The high pressure clamped over the UK gave consistent bright sunshine and (unusually for Bala) an easterly breeze, staying light, and twisted coming down the Dee Valley to ENE-NE. Off the land at the top of the lake, the breeze fluctuated wildly as the day went on, strengthening but still having lulls and gusts (Photo below). It swung 20-30 degrees at times, (usually too unpredictably allow tacking with the shifts) and places could change abruptly, a stern test of character.

(Above: characteristic Nationals week-end view; three boats are well away in a gust, while Alastair Forrest behind is wholly cast down sitting in a lull.) (Photo Bala SC Rib, with thanks.)

 The club helpfully agreed to port-rounding triangles suiting the boats, with two reaches and a beat. An on-wind start meant a very short beat to the top mark, with the tactical challenge of trying to lay the mark in one starboard board from the line, risking being stuck in a lull close to shore.

In Race 1 Paul Ellis was away well showing great boat speed on his return to racing, opening out a big lead. On the beat back up,  John and Gareth established a lead over the chasing pack, and on lap 2 tacked  immediately left after rounding the bottom mark, catching Paul who had carried on towards the shore out right.

 On lap 3, on the tight reach to the bottom mark, Paul and Gareth left John trailing in their wake as they caught a huge gust whilst John sat in a hole.However, this time  John tacked immediately after rounding, whilst Gareth and Paul headed out right, and gained the lead, held round lap 4 until the final beat to the finish.

(Right: the fleet chases Paul Ellis down the first run, Race 1) (Photo: Syd Gage' on-board camera.)

All three opted to tack immediately after rounding, and John and Paul got headed, while Gareth got lucky with a lifting gust, to climb to windward and overtake John. Being closer into shore continued to pay off for Gareth and he held the lead to the finish, with John second and Paul third.

The fleet behind in the shifting breeze stayed close with places changing in the shifts, and on the reaches, when capturing a gust gave big gains over others in the lulls. Alastair Forrest made a big reaching gain to take and hold the fourth place

(Below: Damien Cooney chases the fleet up-wind through the gate.) (Photo Bala SC Rib, with thanks.)

  Race two followed after lunch, on the same course, with the wind increased overall, mainly through occasional gusts.  Alastair's good start gave him a small lead, but he was caught on the third leg by John T, and then by Gareth who pulled away from the fleet to build a large lead which he held to the finish. Paul Ellis again came through into third, until on the third lap a gain from a lift gave Alastair a narrow third over him.

A good start in Race three following back to back gave Paul an early lead, then thrown away missing the gate on lap 1, doubling back and handing Gareth the lead, chased by John T.

 On the beat to the gate on lap 2 John caught a good patch of wind threatening Gareth, sitting in a wind hole. Fortunately for Gareth the wind returned just in time and he extended his lead again on lap 3.

Syd Gage's speed on the second lap reaches brought him out of the pack and he pushed John T hard, who won the battle to take second. Meanwhile Stuart had gained twice by heading left straight after the downwind mark, and in a last-minute bit of bad fortune, Syd was pipped from third place by Stuart

(Right: Nigel gybes hard behind Stuart, Race 3, chased by Syd (with on-board camera)

Sunday came with the lake glassy at 9am and  it looked as though the boats sailing up the lake from the Pant-yr-Onnen campsite for the racing would be marooned, but as in the previous two days it filled in gradually, becoming gusty, and the racing got underway briskly with the same challenges.

.(Right: Stuart Ede leads John Peperell and Nigel Harrison, inching foward  in a lull.) (Photo Bala SC Rib.)

For Race four, the course was extended down the lake, for a longer beat, but the long lulls meant that only two long laps were possible, and the longer fetch to the bottom mark did not give any more stability to the shifting breeze.

From a good start, Alastair gained a short lead, but was caught at the downwind mark by Gareth and John T, and trapped behind them at the turn, tacked immediately going out wide left,suffering a fatal wind-shift putting him to the back.

 The fleet tightened up downwind, with Mike gently running onto Stuart's 
stern for a 360 turn.In a tense last beat to the finish, Gareth just managed to prevent John overtaking to windward. In one last attempt, John ducked below Gareth's stern to overtake to leeward but didn't have the necessary speed so Gareth hung on for the win. Behind, Stuart took another third place, pushed by John Peperell.

(below: Mike (540) and Nigel catching a good breeze.) (Photo BSC)

(Right: Race 4: Mike slowly chases the fleet downwind, standing to let the breeze push its hardest) (Photo Syd Gage'on-borad camera)

In race five following back-to-back, the leg from the start to the top mark was tight and some boats put in a short port board only to see the breeze free and let the rest of round ahead. The fleet stayed tight down the reaching legs, and then Alastair and Mike held on out towards the shore out to the right, being gifted a big lift and gain.

Mike consolidated this and joined Paul and Gareth to form the lead group at the windward mark. Gareth managed to overtake Paul on the reach to the bottom mark for a slim lead, extended on lap 2 for the win.

On the next beat Mike climbed to second by again going left to the shore, and despite his mainsheet getting caught on a kayaker's paddle at the gybe mark (!) held off John Terry for a good second place as the chasing pack closed in.  The final race of the 2018 Nationals followed after lunch. Gareth, able to count five straight wins, was a clear 2018 Champion, and he could afford to miss Race six to rescue his new lawn in the drought.  Mike and Nigel picked that the breeze had shifted slightly further north, and flew across the fleet from a port end start, with a very quick tack to round ahead of the mass on starboard, with a good gain. Again the fleet shifted places in the shifting breeze on the upwind legs, but John T came firmly through to the lead. Behind him Alastair grabbed a good lift to catch Paul but was caught again,  and then crossed a boat-length ahead of Stuart for the third, with Syd following them in fifth.

   Alastair Forrest and Gareth Ede

(Below: tight racing after the short beat to the top mark, with 2018 Champion Gareth Ede leading.)

                                                       NATIONALS RESULTS 

Rank Helm R1
R4 R5 R6 Total Nett
1st Gareth Ede 1 1 1 1 1  (14) 19 5
2nd John Terry 2 2 2 2 (4) 1 13 9
3rd Paul Ellis 3 4 (5) 5 3 2 22 17
4th Stuart Ede (5) 5 3 3 5 4 25 20
5th Alastair Forrest 4 3 6 (8) 6 3 30 22
6th Syd Gage 7 (10) 4 7 7 5 40 30
7th Mike Gough 9 6 8 (10) 2 6 41 31
8th Nigel Harrison 6 7 7 6 (10) 7 43 33
9th Chris Upton (12) 9 9 9 11 8 58 46
10th John Peperell 8 (14) 14 4 8 14 62 48
11th Damien Cooney 10 8 (14) 12 13 9 66 52
12th Markus Reuber 13 11 10 11 12 (14) 71 57
13th Justin Evans 11 14 14 14 9 (14) 76 62

(Below: Gareth Ede, 2018 Champion, chases runner-up John Terry (533) in front of the BSC clubhouse.) (Photo BSC Rib, with many thanks.)


Rank Helm H'cap R1
R4 R5   Total Nett
1st Syd Gage 925 (9) 7 1 4 3 1 25 16
2nd Paul Ellis 855 1 (8) 3 6 5 3 26 18
3rd Stuart Ede 880 (7) 5 2 5 2 4 25 18
4th Chris Upton 1000 6 2 5 1 (10) 5 29 19
5th Nigel Harrison 950 3 3 9 2 (11) 2 30 19
6th Gareth Ede 798 5 4 4 10 7 (14) 44 30
870 Mike Gough 
870 (13) 9 10 7 1 7 47 34
8th Alastair Forrest 865 (10) 6 8 8 6 6 44 34
9th John Terry 810 4 (10) 7 9 8 8 46 36
10th Damien Cooney 1020 2 1 (14) 12 13 9 51 37
11th  John Peperell 931 8 14 14 3 4 (14) 57 43
12th  Markus Reuber 1000 12 11 6 11 12 (14) 66 52
13th Justin Evans 945 11 14 14 14 9 (14) 76 62

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