Catapult TT at Bassenthwaite
Bank Holiday May 4th-6th

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Catapultreturned to Bassenthwaite as a favourite venue for the early May Bank Holiday. The looming peak of Skiddaw had a light snow dusting, confirming  the cold northerlies expected, but the forecast light winds strengthened each day, to give good racing. The club was again very welcoming, and the ROs set the traditional Bass complex courses, with up to six legs in X's or Ws, and more than one beat.

The clear leaders were again Gareth Ede and John Terry, although pushed at times (and with Stuart Ede scoring one runaway win.) Stuart Ede was a clear Handicap winner, but Damien Cooney scored two handicap firsts in the four races he sailed.

 For Race 1 the northerly breeze fluctuated from lulls to moderate gusts. The ROs set a complex six-leg course. In a close bunched start at the starboard end, Stuart was a little late to the line but turned this to his advantage by tacking off onto port for clear air, and found better wind, putting him ahead at the windward mark.

John and Gareth clawed their way past Stuart over the remainder of the lap, so close that at one point they were side by side on the run. Going into the final lap, John had built a slight lead but Gareth was determinedly shutting it down on the final beat, with the pair crossing tacks a couple of times.

At the end of four long laps, the Catapult fleet was flummoxed by the ROs' shifting
the committee boat and gate, to help finish the slower fleet club fleets at the top mark. John headed straight for the hooters at the top mark, instead of following on round the course marks, gifting the win to Gareth.  This error also meant Stuart closed in on John to take a comfortable 3rd place. Further back, the chasing pack closed up as the breeze freshened, and Mike Gough took the fourth place.

 For Race 2 in the afternoon, with a with a simpler course and a steadier light-moderate breeze, the starboard start was fiercely contested, and Syd Gage and George Evans ran out of room at the pin end and locked together, blocking the boats behind and letting John Terry stretch away unimpeded. By lap 2, the wind shifts were becoming very sizeable and Gareth started tacking on each one like a monohull. This proved a good tactic and he overtook John, and extended his lead in the dying wind during lap 3 to take a comfortable win.

 Behind, Alastair Forrest and Mike Gough  chased closely together until Stuart's downwind speed hauled them back, and over the long four laps laps he closed in on John but could not catch him.

nday morning brought some sunshine and a light northerly, swinging NE The marked port bias for the start of Race 3  meant a tight pack up the first beat and at the top mark. John got away cleanly to take an early lead. Gareth and Stuart took up the chase, with Gareth getting past John on the long reach to mark 5.

A ding-dong battle ensued with John overtaking on the next beat, only for Gareth to overtake again downwind.
Gareth started the last lap in first place and took advantage of the strengthening breeze to get out on the trapeze and hold John at bay.

The complex figure-of-eight course meant that the second beat crossed the stream of club boats running down, with a decision whether to charge through to clearer air on the right---but the correct decision was to stay left, nearer the shore, and dive across to the top mark.

 Stuart and George had a sustained  tussle for third and as they came through the gate at the end of lap 3, Stuart saw a shortened course flag flying, and heard hooters, so presumed he had finished and headed to shore. Unfortunately the RO had set a rugged 4th lap, so Stuart scored a DNF.

 In Race 4
Stuart risked a port tack start in the swinging breeze and was rewarded when the breeze died and headed the packed starboard-end fleet, who stayed almost still while Stuart stretched out. Gareth and George pulled up upwind to be close behind, and caught up on the downwind legs. The sun then came out and the wind vanished, leaving George and Gareth wallowing side by side whilst Stuart slipped off into the distance for a runaway win, followed in by John.

Race 5
followed back-to-back. The X-shaped course gave two short beats to windward marks close to shore, with tactical decisions about approaching with enough breeze. John tried a port tack start but was thwarted by the spread-out starboard fleet. Gareth's start at the far end of the line gave  clean air, and he pulled out ahead to be first to the windward mark. John thought it was a starboard rounding, and sank to the back of the fleet when he realised his error and had to go back and unwind. Gareth picked up speed and took off, and was never seen again. Stuart moved out from the chasing pack and held the second place until eventually John Terry escaped the pack and after a battle took the second.

On Monday, the forecast threatened wind too light to race, and John Terry stayed on shore, with his assured second place. However, the breeze was always enough to keep moving, with taxing moments.  The start for Race 6 was again clearly port-biased, with a mass port start. The breeze dropped away as the starting gun sounded, and the fleet scrambled to get in place. Gareth got away in the middle to be build a good lead out to the right followed by Alastair, only for both to see that the boats who had tacked  left out of the melee  picked up a brisk freeing breeze, so Stuart and George  raced across to the windward mark to slip past Gareth. Behind, Damian Cooney had good up-wind speed to turn in fourth place ahead of Alastair. The front three then continued to trade places on the downwind legs, and stayed tight until on the second lap Gareth managed to pull clear and Stuart, in second place, opened up a gap on George.

Gareth stretched away round the next two laps, and the back markers were dismayed to find that just as they arrived at the long tight reach, the shifting breeze turned it into a further beat.
All the while Alastair was creeping up and, on the final short beat to the finish line, he saw the boats ahead needing a short tack to the line, and tightened up to windward, managing to sail over George as he made the extra tack, to snatch third.

The clear leaders were again Gareth Ede and John Terry, although pushed at times (and with Stuart Ede scoring one runaway win, so that every race of the weekend was won by an Ede.) Stuart was a clear Handicap winner, but Damien Cooney scored two handicap firsts in the four races he sailed.

Alastair Forrest and Gareth Ede


Rank Helm R1
R4 R5 R6 Total Nett
1st Gareth Ede 1 1 1 `(3) 1 1 8 5
2nd John Terry 2 2 2 2 2 (DNC) 19 10
3rd Stuart Ede 3 3 (DNF) 1 3 2 21 12
4th Alastair Forrest (5) 4 5 4 5 3 26 21
5th George Evans 6 (7) 3 5 4 4 29 15
6th Mike Gough 4 5 4 (6) 6 5 30 18
7th Syd Gage (7) 6 6 7 7 7 40 25
8th Damien Cooney 8 8 DNC (DNC) DNC 6 49 29


Rank Helm R1
R4 R5 R6 Total Nett
1st Stuart Ede 2 2 (DNF) 1 1 2 10 8
2nd Gareth Ede 4 1 4 (7) 2 5 23 16
3rd Mike Gough   3 6 1 3 4 (7) 24 17
4th Syd Gage 5 4 (6) 2 3 6 26 20
5th Alastair Forrest (7) 3 5 4 7 3 29 22
6th George Evans (8) 7 2 5 6 4 32 24
7th      John Terry 6 5 3 6 5 (DNC) 34 25
8th  Damien Cooney 1 8 DNC DNC (8DNC) 1 31 28


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