Catapult Northern Championships
Royal Yorkshire Yacht Club, August 25th-27th

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The NE coast at Bridlington gives the Catapult 2018 racing Programme  its true open water sea sailing (along with the traditional hospitality offered by the Dinghy section of the Royal Yorkshire YC) and Brid delivered again across the B/H weekend.

With strong winds looming across the weekend, three races back-to-back were scheduled on Saturday, with a stiff NE breeze kicking up a steep chop although blowing with the incoming tide. The RO set port-rounding rectangular courses, with the Dart fleet starting five minutes after the Catapults

(Right: Stuart Ede lifts in the steep chop, Saturday, and below right, Alastair crashes over a wave. Photos Syd Gage' on-board camera)

In Race 1 nobody spotted that the committee boat was drifting so all started on starboard but needed to tack onto port to get across the line. Gareth Ede tacked but didn't have time to get across in front of Alastair Forrest, so sat head to wind  watching John Terry lead the rest of the fleet away up the beat.

However, Gareth could trapeze and he clawed  up through the fleet to be  first at the windward mark. On the reach he delayed fully powering up, getting accustomed to the sea state, and John closed the gap. By the second reach, Gareth was back up to full speed (and surprised a seal that popped it's head out of the water as he swept past.)

   On the next two laps Gareth extended his lead over John, and the pair finished a good 15 minutes ahead of the chasing fleet! Behind George Evans pulled up to third, able to keep speed pointing high, but was caught by Mike Gough, while Stuart Ede and Syd Gage chose to bear away upwind for speed through the chop. Stuart went left to reduce tide opposition, catching Alastair at the windward mark (and so revealing that he and others ahead had gone round a more-distant mark, see photos further below)

For Race 2, the fleet all decided on a starboard end start, given the lumpy sea and gusty breeze, but the port bias was still so extreme that only boats tacking onto port could cross. John gained by tacking early out to sea, gaining from stronger breeze at the expense of more tidal flow and the steep chop (followed by all the local Darts).

With the breeze a little lighter, the priority was getting boat speed in the steep chop, particularly in the final approach to the top mark, where any extra tacks against the tide could give a big loss (as Syd experienced!)

Again, trapezing gave Gareth the advantage over the rest of the fleet, getting through the short sharp chop on the beat. Rounding the windward mark first, Gareth held this lead for both laps. George Evans pulled up to third, held around the course (shortened to two laps) ahead of Mike Gough who caught Alastair on lap two. Syd powered by Alastair on the final reach for 5th

Race 3 followed back-to-back, setting only two laps with late afternoon drawing in. Again the fleet started tightly on starboard in spite of the port bias. With the wind strength dropping, Gareth was able to trapeze less, and the fleet was  more closely bunched on the first beat, helped by slack water. John had a good lead at the windward mark, but threw this away as he hesitated about which mark he needed to round next, gifting Gareth the lead which he held it to the finish for a third straight win. George again had the boat speed to hold third comfortably, ahead of Stuart.
(Below: Characterisic start, Saturday (Race 3) John Terry, event winner (centre) is well away, with Gareth Ede powering up on trapeze, left.
Photo Syd Gage.)

Sunday had a brisk SW wind, coming unobstructed by any land, and so bringing a steep sea  It was forecast to rise, and so two races were booked with a 0930 start (!) to get racing in before conditions became unmanageable. Two lighter helms tested the conditions and withdrew leaving a fleet of five. In the steep chop the priorities were keeping boat speed and attempting quick tacks, not at all easy or successful.

 The RO set courses not too far offshore, windward/leeward (to protect the Darts from risking diving on tight reaches) . However, the beat had a distinct starboard bias and the downwind leg was a broad reach rather than a run. Race 4 had the boats scrambling across the line in the strong breeze, then finding the beat heavily skewed, so that John pulling out to windward just missed laying the top mark in one starboard board, keeping a short lead. The fleet stayed close with Mike Gough using the stronger breeze well to push John, with Stuart Ede holding third around the second lap
(Below: The fleet jockeying in the strong westerly on Sunday. Photo Mike Gough)

Stuart won the Race 5 start with a well-timed run up to the committee boat end, with George and Mike cheek-by-jowl a couple of boats lengths to leeward. It was an exciting beat, with hulls flying as they crashed through and over the waves. Stuart was the first to tack inshore to find the layline for the windward mark, but Mike, who was by now drawing ahead of George, gained an advantage by tacking later, and rounded just ahead of Stuart.
John had recovered from a poor start to overtake George, and rounded third. Stuart was on Mike’s heels as they rounded the leeward mark, but then fluffed a tack in the tricky conditions allowing Mike to get away and John to close the gap behind. John tried trapezing in the bumpy conditions and commented afterwards that it made things feel “much calmer”. He was right behind Stuart up the beat of Lap 2, and a tighter turn and gybe at the top mark, as Stuart went wide to avoid a Dart, gave him a couple of boat lengths edge over Stuart which he held to the finish to claim second place behind Mike.

(Below: Brief Encounter, Race 1 on Saturday. Left, Stuart (yellow hulls) tacks for the upwind mark, ahead of Alastair who was reaching down from a different "upwind mark". Right: they go their different ways after rounding, Stuart begining the reach, and Alastair sure that he is on the third leg, running. They can't both be right! Alastair withdrew.)
(Photos RYYC Rib, with thanks.)

On Monday, the building westerly, whistling in the rigging, was off the land, giving a flat sea. With the wind due to rise, Joe Franks as RO (and Commodore) took his Dart out to test the conditions, and came back to say it was manageable. So the fleet pulled the boats across the sand to the water's edge in rising breeze, where more Darts and two Catapults went out, speeding upwind in the flat water but returning to report that downwind was precarious, and unsafe for racing. So the fleet pulled the boats back across the sand, disappointed but quietly relieved that racing was cancelled.

Although Gareth had three straight wins, counting a DNS gave John a clear win as Northern Champion, and Mike Gough's places in the strong Sunday breeze lifted him to second. Handicap wins on Sunday gave Mike the countback decision over John with tied scores.

Alastair Forrest, Gareth Ede, and Stuart Ede


Rank Helm R1
R4 R5 Total Nett
1st John Terry (2) 2 2 1 2 9 7
2nd Mike Gough 3 4 (7) 2 1 17 10
3rd Gareth Ede 1 1 1 9 (9) 21 12
4th George Evans 4 3 3 (5) 4 19 14
5th Stuart Ede (5) 5 4 3 3 20 15
6th Alastair Forrest (9) 7 6 4 5 31 22
7th Syd Gage 6 6 5 (9) 9 35 26
8th Damien Cooney (9) 9 9 9 9 45 36

                                                     HANDICAP RESULTS

Rank Helm R1
R4 R5 Total Nett
1st Mike Gough   3 (4) 4 1 1 13 9
2nd John Terry 1 3 (6) 2 3 15 9
3rd George Evans
(5) 2 1 5 4 17 12
4th Stuart Ede (6) 6 3 3 2 20 14
5th Gareth Ede 2 1 5 (9) 9 21 17
6th Syd Gage 4 5 2 (9) 9 29 20
7th  Alastair Forrest (9) 7 6 4 5 31 22
8th Damien Cooney (9) 9 9 9 9 45 36

(Below: Start, Race 1. It was much lumpier than it looks here!) (Photo RYYC Rib, with thanks.)


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