Catapult TT at Bala
July 16th-18th

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2021 Catapult TT, Bala

Bala Long Distance Event

Our annual event at Bala was rather different this year. Because Bala Sailing Club needed to reduce and merge events to take account of Covid restrictions, our TT ended up as part of the Club’s Long Distance Weekend. Unfortunately, the weather was not playing ball. The Fun Races on the Friday had to be cancelled because the lake was like a mill pond.

The Saturday morning was much the same, though a gentle breeze enabled the first long distance race to get underway on time. The choice of which side to take for the beat up the lake proved crucial. George Evans applied his local knowledge to sail up the northern shore, where he expected there to be more pressure. He was followed by Eamonn Cotter, Paul Ellis and Syd Gage. Mike Gough and Gareth Ede headed for the south shore while Chris Upton, John Terry and Stuart Ede went up the middle. As the wind began to fade Gareth tacked back to the centre. Mike persevered on the south shore and became becalmed, eventually deciding to retire. Things weren’t much better in the centre, and progress was painfully slow in the very light, patchy and shifty zephyrs, though amazingly Chris who had been only 20 metres from Gareth and Stuart on either side managed to slowly pull away from them.

A very slow start to the event

Meanwhile the quartet on the north shore, now with Eamonn in the lead followed by George, Syd and Paul, were reaping the benefit of their choice of side by gradually easing ahead of the rest of the fleet. John worked his way over to them to get some of the benefit, though he later tacked back to the middle only to lose out again. Gareth also worked his way to the north shore and managed to overtake Paul and Syd, but, frustrated that he had only covered a third of a lap in two hours, he decided to retire, and Stuart followed suit.

During the race two funnel clouds had been sighted indicating some turbulence in higher levels of the atmosphere, and as the remaining competitors approached the windward mark this turbulence came down to ground level. For a period, wind indicators performed pirouettes before the breeze picked up enabling Eamonn and George to round the windward mark and start heading back down the lake. Unfortunately for the others the wind died away again leaving them still struggling to reach the top mark.


Funnel cloud near the lake before the start


Eamonn increased his lead and made it to the finish line just one minute over the target three hours for the duration of the race. Over the next three quarters of an hour George, John, Syd, Paul and Chris (in that order) trickled in, their dogged perseverance finally rewarded.

For Sunday’s race there was a little more breeze at the lower end of Force 2 with the occasional gust. Its direction made the first leg up the lake more of a close fetch than a beat. Again, the long start line offered several options for the course to be taken. The majority headed for the north shore again. Stuart, Gareth, Mike and John opted for the centre, while Paul started near the south shore. That proved to be a wise choice, because he was able to hold that tack all the way up to the spit at Pant yr Onnen and beyond, while eventually the rest of the fleet were forced to tack off the north shore, adding time and distance. Gareth managed to work his way upwind to pursue Paul, and these two opened up a considerable lead.

Heading for the start day 2

Behind them Stuart rounded the top mark in third place closely pursued by Mike. Next came John and Eamonn tussling with one another. On the broad reach down the lake Gareth eased ahead of Paul, but they stayed in close contention. As they approached the bottom of the lake, they encountered lighter pressure enabling the duelling pairs of Stuart and Mike and John and Eamonn to narrow the gap.

Starting Lap 2 was almost like a reset of the race,  these six were now quite close together, but now Gareth was just ahead of Paul having overtaken him shortly after rounding the bottom mark. Stuart began to draw away from Mike, and Eamonn and John came up from behind to sail alongside Stuart. Having rounded the top mark and turned downwind these three gradually closed in on Paul who had slowed markedly, eventually overtaking him. At this point Stuart managed to draw away and set off in pursuit of Gareth who had stretched out a considerable lead.

The last short leg from the bottom mark to the finish proved very tricky. It had turned into a beat in a very light and shifty breeze. Gareth had enough of a margin to take first place, while Stuart struggled to stay ahead of Eamonn and John as they tacked for the line. However, Paul who was a little way back in fifth place had a stroke of luck. As he rounded the bottom mark, he found he could point much higher, so suddenly he was back in contention. He and Eamonn were approaching the line just yards away, when Stuart came in on starboard forcing Eamonn to tack. Stuart tacked immediately to cover Paul, but Paul had enough way on to slide through Stuart’s lee and cross the line in second place. Despite being pipped on the line, Stuart was happy to acknowledge that Paul deserved his stroke of luck having led for so much of the race.

Despite coming in a close fifth behind John in the last race, Eamonn had done enough to win the event with 6 points. Paul and John had 7 points each with Paul claiming second place on tie break.

Watch out for this guy, winner of the event and Personal Handicap.

When the Personal Handicap results were calculated Eamonn was the clear winner of Race 1 and very nearly won Race 2, only denied by half a second by Stuart! But, of course, a first and a second were more than enough to ensure that Eamonn achieved the double of winning the event both on level rating and handicap – the latter by a clear margin from George and Paul.

Eamonn receiving his well deserved award


Catapult  2021 TT series

Bala SC

Rank SailNo HelmName Rating R1 R2 Total Nett
1st 520 Eamonn Cotter 890 1 5 6 6
2nd 507 Paul Ellis 860 5 2 7 7
3rd 533 John Terry 815 3 4 7 7
4th 510 George Evans 895 2 7 9 9
5th 91 Gareth Ede 798 10 DNF 1 11 11
6th 531 Stuart Ede 885 10 DNF 3 13 13
7th 506 Syd Gage 940 4 10 DNF 14 14
8th 540 Mike Gough 890 10 DNF 6 16 16
9th 2020 Chris Upton 1000 6 10 DNF 16 16


Catapult  2021 TT series
Bala SC

Rank SailNo HelmName Rating R1 R2 Total Nett
1st 520 Eamonn Cotter 890 1 2 3 3
2nd 510 George Evans 895 2 5 7 7
3rd 507 Paul Ellis 860 6 3 9 9
4th 531 Stuart Ede 885 10 DNF 1 11 11
5th 533 John Terry 815 5 7 12 12
6th 2020 Chris Upton 1000 3 10 DNF 13 13
7th 540 Mike Gough 890 10 DNF 4 14 14
8th 506 Syd Gage 940 4 10 DNF 14 14
9th 91 Gareth Ede 798 10 DNF 6 16 16

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