Catapult Catamarans TT at Calshot SC:
July 2nd and 3rd 2011

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   Catapult returned to Calshot Sailing Club after a four-year gap, on Saturday joining two unusual races built around the annual club trip into Southampton Water. The first was from the club to a finish at the mouth of the old harbour of Ashlett Creek, and up into the Creek for lunch, with a race back to follow (Photo below). Sunday brought more conventional racing with the Club fleet.

 Light SW breezes emphasised that sea conditions bring different racing challenges---steadier wind than inland, but needing to use this effectively to move through waves (particularly the Solent short chop in its shallower waters) with tides to allow for, and the wakes of the large commercial and pleasure craft setting up standing wave patterns at the Southampton Water entrance.

(Below: John sets out back down Ashlett Creek after Race 1 and lunch onshore.)


  Race 1 offered the Catapults a triangle course before following the slower club boats in the race to Ashlett Creek. The three Catapults got away on starboard equally, but on the next long port beat to the mark, Paul Ellis and John Peperall climbed to windward of Alastair Forrest, who was well back at the turn. On the third leg, with the long reach to Henry VIII's fort on the spit and the turn into Southampton Water, John found a burst of speed over Paul to lead, but took the turn wide allowing Paul back, to lead to the finish. Meanwhile Alastair gradually gained on the broad reaches (perhaps helped by steadying the rig in the chop by hanging on the trapeze wire) but John came up from leeward to ensure second


The beat up the creek to lunch had the challenges of finding the narrow channel and removing weed, to finally pull the boats up in the picturesque setting of the old waterside pub and the big tide mill in the little ancient port (photo here)

 For Race 2, the on-the-water start at the creek entrance was disrupted as the wind died and shifted, making a heavy starboard bias. Only Paul was near the line and he led off on a long starboard board with Alastair behind. John came up steadily, passing Alastair to windward and closing on Paul. The boats kept closely matched speeds and courses, but Paul pulled gradually away. Alastair then closed on John but was chagrined to learn later that this was after John relaxed and lost concentration. Paul completed a triangle for the win.

(Left: Paul eases up to the Race 2 start on port before the shift, to lead a 2-mile stretch on one tack, and take Race 2)                           (Photo Calshot SC Rescue rib.)

   On Sunday, overcast skies brought a fresher SW breeze of 7-10 knots to give some more power to manage the wave conditions. The shore-based starts left a marked port bias to the start line.

  In Race 3, Alastair and Paul were away together, staying close. Alastair hung on to a small lead round the first triangle and windward-leeward laps, and on the third beat a port-starboard incident put Paul into a 360', and apparent disadvantage. However, he came storming back to take the lead by the windward mark, holding this round the final windward-leeward lap for victory.

  Meanwhile John could not recover from his start (stalling well away from the line attempting a narrow starboard port-end start) although he gained gradually on the front two through the race.

 For Race 4, around triangles, Alastair squeezed past the port-end mark on the gun, but this nerve-racking beginning was not needed, as the others were well away from the line and then had to come through the slower fleet on a beat which gave few options.

  Alastair extended the lead to the finish over the three laps. John and Paul stayed close together until Paul nicked a mark and then had a shroud uncleat, never regaining boat speed as John stretched out for second.

(Below: Alastair runs down ahead while John leads Paul beating up.) (Photo CSC Rescue rib.)


                                                                        Paul Ellis      1     1     1   (3)        3

                                                            Alastair Forrest     (3)   3     2     1         6

                                                                John Peperall      2      2   (3)    2         6