Catapult racing at Bewl Valley SC

First TT event for 2012: Sunday April 15th

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Bewl Valley SC welcomed Catapult back and offered a free sail in their pleasant valley on Saturday, a civilised introduction and practice in light-moderate northerlies. On Sunday. sunshine and shelter at the Club gave a keenness to start the 2012 Travelling Trophy season  while the dark gusts on the distant water confirmed the forecast NE 15-18, gusting in the mid-twenties.

  Five Catapults came to the racing, including Mike Dunbavin (newly joined, bringing the distinctive all-white boat prepared for the then chairman of Topper, picture below) In spite of the widely publicised drought (with
 Bewl Reservoir missing 50% of its water) there was plenty of sailing space on top, and newly extended ramps and hard down to the water. (The Club welcome included Club mugs to the boats completing the day!)

  The Club set the same course for the four races (morning and afternoon sets back to-back) a “distorted box” started from shore, all starboard turns. After the short beat from the start, this gave a fast reach along the dam, then into a long run down the southern arm of the lake, and a long beat back. Tactically, the usual rule that tacking down-wind doesn't gain was modified, as a port board across to the shore on the left before gybing onto starboard to run for the mark kept the boats in the freshest breeze. Most helms chose regular trapezing upwind, although gusting shifting breeze and short boards made the gains more marginal.

catapults at bewl2 close catamaran racing

Close racing: Above: Alex Montgomery leads Alastair Forrest, Race 1

Left: Paul Ellis on Alex' heels in Race 2 as Alex reels in  a second win

(Photos thanks to BVSC Safety boat)

   As soon as racing was underway, all five Catapults realised they were unfamiliar with the no-nonsense 3-minute starting sequence. In Race One, Paul Ellis and Alastair Forrest guessed a good-enough start, following the clump of local boats to the heavily port-biased line, and Alastair pulled away during the lap for a useful lead, only to throw it away, wildly over-standing beating towards the wrong clubhouse.

  Alex Montgomery pulled steadily up, seven seconds behind Paul back at the gate mark, taking the lead in lap 2 and then the race. Cliff Antill pulling up from a late start was perplexed by the boats ahead tacking downwind, appearing to take in another mark, and never got going fully, and Mike Dunbavin enjoyed familiarising himself with the new boat until a capsize in the downwind gusts. On the final beat, Alastair pulled up close enough behind Paul to come in fast on starboard to catch him tacking onto port for the line, to just take second

  (Below: Cliff on top of Alastair out to the turning mark, to reach down the dam.)
(Photo: BVSC)

catamaran racing bewl

   In Race 2 Cliff followed a good start with good boat speed, building a lead over Alex (impressing non-Catapults by riding one hull high beating back up through the channelled wind, still in control.) In lap 2 he could not hold off Alex, who came through to a one-minute win. Paul pulled up from starting at the back, catching Alastair on lap 2 and then Cliff to take second.

  Lunch in the sheltered sunshine gave the impression of dropping breeze and a gentler afternoon sailing, but out there gusts were demanding, and most trapezed the beat until near the shore mark. Alex reluctantly left to take an overnight plane to Dubai, and Mike felt that enough practice had been gained.

   The remaining three now had familiarity with the start, and were well away close packed for Race 3, with Alastair leading away with Paul, who clawed to the front. Fifty seconds covered the boats through the gate the first time,
   and after close downwind sailing, they survived some ferocious gusts at the leeward mark in the valley funnel. Paul built a lead upwind to take the race, and Alastair following Cliff tacked earlier for the line, catching second from him by a few yards

(Below left: Cliff checks his timing for the dash to the heavily port-favoured line, Race 3, while Alastair comes up to tack in front of the BVSC Starting box)


(Above: Mike exercises the TI boat built for the then Chairman of Topper, with beams and hulls all-white, and custom purple bow boards.)

    Race 4 followed immediately, catching Alastair unawares, and Paul led off with Cliff for the one-lap final race. The three stayed close round the now-familiar circuit, Paul battling Cliff to cross two seconds ahead, Alastair only 30 seconds further back.


(one discard)

             1st      Paul Ellis                   (3)             2                1                1                                    4

             2nd   Alastair Forrest         2              (4)              2                3                                    7

             3rd    Alex Montgomery     1               1              6 DNC       (6 DNC)                           8

             4th     Cliff Antill                  (4)             3                 3                2                                   8                                

             5th    Mike Dunbavin      (6 DNF)     6 DNC         6DNC         6 DNC                            18 



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