Catapult TT at Carsington Cat Open
September 21st-22nd

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The Boat

  Catapult, back in the familar waters of Carsington Reservoir, joined the Dart 18s (their Inland Championships) and Sprints (Northerns) under Autumn high pressure, with light SW breezes.

The wind direction (restricting the space for the courses)  made threading through the fleets a main tactical challenge, with the Darts tacking widely downwind on their windward-leewards course, and the Catapults catching up the Sprint fleet, sharing a port trapezoid. All the fleets shared a wide gate at the leeward end. Catapults made up most of the Handical fleet (and took all the front places.)

  Race 1 started robustly with collisions, competing for the starboard end of the line, Gareth getting away with faster boat-speed and John T coming up through the fleet to set up a ding dong battle. Gareth took a small lead up the beat only to see John T overtake downwind with better boat speed. On the final lap, John had again caught Gareth on the third leg of the trapezoid course, a bow-board ahead and to windward of Gareth. Rounding the mark, onto the final reach to the line, Gareth quickly sheeted-in responding to  little gust, to edge past John and head up to windward so that John was directly a few boat lengths astern. As they closed in on the finish, Gareth  lost momentum and John closed in as the breeze filled in from behind, but a final upset was avoided by less than a boat-length. Behind, other battles (which were to continue through the event) saw Alastair catch George for third on the final downwind leg, and Justin pull up to catch Stuart.

(Above: Carsington tactics: Justin (518) looks back at Syd chasing (yellow bow flag) as they start to thread through the Sprint 15 fleet) (Photo Pauline Love with thanks)

Race 2 the wind had shifted right, and Stuart and Alastair gained by strongly defending the starboard end of the start-line, then lifting to windward, giving Alastair a slender lead at the top mark before John T came through. John then stretched out over the three laps, getting through the Sprint 15s into clean air and stretching his lead to more than an entire leg of the course, while the chasers found themselves in amongst a gaggle of Sprint 15s. Gareth moved into a clear second, and in the back-and-forth fight for third, Alastair caught George back on the final lap.

Race 3
  gave another close race with John T initially in the lead. after shaking off a barging DX. The wind fading and shifting right gave new tactical questions --- until this point  exiting the leeward gate to the right was favoured, (gybing onto starboard and going up the left hand side of the beat.) On the second lap, Gareth opted to exit the opposite side of the gate which was further to travel. This paid dividends, finding good breeze on the right hand side of the beat and taking the lead which was held to the finish.  Syd, showing his increasing speed through the event, was eventually caught for third by George. Behind, Alastair could not gain by repeating Gareth's tactic of taking the gate mark to the right side of the upwind course, and Justin had the boat speed to take Stuart, keeping their points marching together.

Sunday brought sunshine and lighter winds (photo above, from John Terry) swinging around the SW-WSW  but giving ample racing speed.  At the Race 4 start, Syd led sneaking through at the starboard pin end, and the fleet headed off along a long leg down the left shore, Gareth neck and neck with John T, going as far as possible before tacking on a lay line on port for the windward mark. John managed to duck the stern of George coming across on starboard but George forced Gareth to tack. Tacking back onto port, Gareth was caught again by a starboard Dart 18 putting him to the back of the pack at the windward mark, with John T leading closely pursued by George and Alastair. Downwind, Gareth made up a couple of places, and on the next beat, determined to avoid the same fate again, he tacked early across on port  to the right side of the course, to come into the windward mark on starboard, away the most congested parts of the beat. This initially looked like a disastrous decision, beset by headers (so Stuart, following, tacked back) but once at the right hand side on starboard, Gareth got a good lifting breeze, On the left, John T tangled with the right-of-way fleet, and  Gareth took the lead, held to the finish.  

Race 5, the wind swinging further to the right gave  the Committee a big headache, who eventually shifted the line (and the leeward gate marks) to the left,  close to the shore, leaving little space to come in on starboard. (The port end was in thick weed!) Stuart successfully used a hovering approach from close to the line, and the fleet got away to meet the next challenge, the Dart 18s sweeping back through the leeward marks already completing their restricted w/l laps. The fleet remained very close up the first beat. George climbed to windward to take the lead with John T, Alastair and Gareth breathing down his neck. John T and Gareth managed to slip past on the downwind leg with John T starting upwind with a small lead until Gareth, sailing slightly lower for speed took  a small lead by the the windward mark. On the next lap John T tried exiting the left leeward gate, but the gamble neither gained nor lost, so Gareth maintained his lead to the finish, clinching the event win with a race to spare, John an equally unchallengeable second.
(Below: George leads Race 5, with Gareth (91) powering after him to the upwind mark)
(Photo Pauline Love)

   In Race 6 Gareth hit the leeward end of the start line at full speed to take an early lead, and several gusts on the first beat lifted him up, to lead at the windward mark. Syd, pointing exceptionally well, kept a close second, holding John T at bay to the end, while over the next couple of laps Gareth extended his lead. Behind, George, on equal points with Alastair, watched Alastair chase him downwind and then fall back upwind. Stuart and Alastair finally went left, to be hit by a big header once they turned, and George had an unobstructed fourth, which seemed to deal with Alastair's challenge, until countback from equal points after discrads gave the nod to Alastair.

(Write-up Gareth and Alastair)


Race 1
1 Gareth Ede 1 (2) 1 1 1 1 7 5
2 John Terry 2 1 2 2 2 (3) 12 9
3 Alastair Forrest 3 3 5 3 4 (6) 24 18
4 George Evans 4 4 3 4 3 (4) 22 18
5 Syd Gage 5 5 4 5 (5) 2 26 21
6 Stuart Ede (7) 6 7 7 6 5 38 31
7 Justin Evans 6 (7) 6 6 7 7 39 32
8 Damien Cooney 8 8 (9) 8 9 9 51 42

(below: close enough--Syd Alastair and George contest third place) (Photo Pauline Love)

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