Catapult TT at Rutland
April 8th-9th

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The Catapult season opened 12-13th  April, at Rutland  joining the Cat Open and Shearwater TT on Saturday, and on Sunday the Club again hospitably welcomed Catapult into Club racing, with a single fleet start (with the contrasting fleets adding some tactical interest and surprises.)

On Saturday the ESE breeze, Force 4,  under cloud with scatterd sunshine brought a shivering opening to the season. The Club set a windward-leeward course with a downwind gate, and added a gybe mark for Shearwaters and Catapults, with the breeze swinging to the east to give a good mix of reaches and runs.

Chris Phillips showed he was going to be serious competition, leading Race 1 from the start and holdiing it for the first beat. Gareth Ede managed to get past on the reaches and, not realising that the downwind marks formed a gate, merrily led the fleet round the leeward mark to port. John Terry was the only person to take advantage of the gate and exited to starboard, an excellent decision as he jumped into first at the windward mark. Gareth clawed back the gap over the next couple of laps and on the final leg was just ahead of John but didn't know which mark represented the finish line so threw the win away to John. Behind, George Evans came up steadily with his upwind speed in fresh breezes to take and hold third. Mike Gough, enjoying a breezy season's start, caught Chris and Stuart Ede for fourth.

Out of kindness, the RO had offered race times of around 30-40 minutes, but the leading Catapults headed off around again, followed dutifully by the rest, leaving the rest of the Cat Open fleet with a long cold wait while we went around for an unwanted fourth lap. (Below: start of Race 1, with Mike hoping there will be enough room behind the Committee boat: photo John Terry's on-board camera.)

By Race 2,  the breeze picked up, with John and Gareth trapezing continuously, and the Shearwaters providing entertainment as they struggled to contain their symmetrical kites in the gusts. The start stayed firmly starboard-biased, and with the set-up now practised once, a very tight fleet swept off, with the Catapults needing to make tactical decisions amongst the bigger cats. Chris Philllips had a good start towards the pin end of the line to take an early lead. He had great boat speed so John and Gareth were unable to catch him for the first 2 laps. Gareth eventually managed to claw his way past on the 3rd beat whilst John fell further back as his decision to exit the downwind gate to starboard proved to be a bad one this time. Chris held onto second place at the finish.

Race 3 had the same bias, the breeze a bit less gusty but firmly wintery. Chris got another good start but couldn't hold off Gareth and John this time. The tactical decision at the downwind gate stayed unclear, with port or staboard rounding comitting to the one or other side of the upwind course, and the wide separation maiking gains or losses hard to judge. John led at the end of lap 1 and exited the downwind gate to starboard with Gareth hot on his heels. This was a bad decision and the rest of the fleet gained significant ground. Gareth managed to get past John on the beat of lap 2 and held the lead to the finish. (Below: start of Race 3; photo Syd Gage' on-board camera)

For the racing on Sunday, the cLub combined the home and visitting fleets for their "Big Pond" series out in the broad water near the dam. With one fleet start, early tactics centred on getting away from the a start combining some fast cats alongside some very-competitive Lasers and other single-handers. The breeze stayed ENE, swinging enough to give unpredictable gains.

Race 4
revealed the marked port bias to the line, picked by Stuart, but John had the boat speed from the starboard end to get the lead from the start, and had a comfortable lead by the end of the first beat. Gareth took full advantage of a strong, sustained gust on the reach to the leeward mark to close down the gap, only for John to extend it again up the next beat. John then remained unchallenged to the finish. Again, George Evans had steady upwind speed in the fresh breeze, pulling up to take third. (Below: coming to the start, Race 4: the smaller boats are running down the line to the port mark, planning to catch the port starters.)

By Race 5 the tight pack of single-handers were drifting down the start line to the port end, capturing the distance advantage, but this meant a crowd of mixed-speed boats around the mark, and an oppotunity for clearer air at the starbourd end. Gareth started right by the committee boat, alongside John, but opted to tack off immediately onto port and take advantage of trapezing in clean air. This paid dividends and Gareth took a healthy lead which he extended to the finish. Chris Phillps again showed his impressive upwind speed to come through to hold third.

In Race 6, most of the fleet was acting on the port bias, and the boats down at that end starting on starboard seemed to have control---except that a big cat on port charged on into the fleet, with wild swerving. Stuart came through the chaos to keep the port end advantage for a useful lead. Gareth again led up the first beat but was more closely challenged by John and Chris. On subsequent laps it became clear that the favourable side of the beat had switched and Chris and Stuart used this to their advantage. Gareth held on for the win ahead of John, with Stuart holding on to keep George and Chris at bay.

Although Chris' came the season with impressive new speed, Gareth and John re-established their battle at the front of the fleet, flying upwind on the trapeze, for a comfortable split from the rest. On Handicap, Chris easily dominated, counting 5 straight wins.  

Rank Helm R1
R4 R5 R6 Total Nett
1st Gareth Ede 2 1 1 (2) 1 1 8 6
2nd John Terry 1 (2) 2 1 2 2 10 8
3rd George Evans 3 3 (4) 3 4 4 21 17
4th Chris Phillips 6 (8) 3 4 3 5 29 21
5th Stuart Ede 5 5 5 (7) 6 3 31 24
6th Mike Gough 4 7 (7) 5 5 6 31 24
7th Syd Gage 7 6 (8) 6 7 8 42 34
8th Alastair Forrest (9 DNF) 7 6 8 8 7 45 36


Rank Helm R1
R4 R5 R6 Total Nett
1st Chris Phillips (3) 1 1 1 1 1 8 5
2nd  George Evans
1 2 2 2 2 3 13 10
3rd  Mike Gough 4 4 (7) 3 2 2 22 15
4th Syd Gage 2 3 6 5 6 (7) 29 22
5th Stuart Ede 6 6 3 (7) 5 4 31 24
6th     Gareth Ede    5 5 4 6 (6) 5 34 25
7th John  Terry (7) 7 5 4 4 6 33 26
8th Alastair Forrest (9DNF) 8 8 8 8 8 48 39
(Below: Rutland on a different weekend!)

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