Catapults back at Bassenthwaite
May Bank Holiday TT

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Bass, always offering variation, began on Saturday cloudy and chilly with  a light SE breeze  not quite directly up  the lake (so affected by the nearby hills) waxing and waning but largely steady in direction. The first dayís racing was challenging but the fleet (ten attending, and  nine on the water) could maintain  racing throughout the afternoon.

 Race one set off round a characteristic Bass complex figure of eight, only two laps completed in light winds . Stuart Ede (exercising his new Hyde sail) won a lone port-end start across the fleet, for a useful first lap lead.  Paul Ellis held John Terry out from good start near the committee boat (with most of the rest of the fleet well back at the gun)  and took Stuart, chased by Gareth Ede.  


Paul held the lead up the second beat but the battle for second was close with John, Alastair and Gareth crossing tacks. Gareth rounded the windward mark second followed by John. Stuart went up the outside of the beat and rounded 4th. On the downwind legs, Gareth found good breeze to jump the gap to Paul, leaving John, Stuart and George to tussle it out for the next places.  Paul and Gareth started the second beat neck and neck but Paul went further to the right hand as Gareth split away from trying to inch past, and had a big gain, held to the finish. Gareth managed to hold off John for 2nd. Behind, tight racing between Alastair Forrest, George Evans and Nigel Harrison saw George pulling up out to catch Stuart and take fourth, Alastair holding off Nigel for sixth.


Race two followed back to back, with the breeze dying to very light, on a simplified course, completing one lap only in the time. From a straggling start at the Committee boat end, Gareth and Stuart further down the line got good air, letting Gareth hold the early lead (opting to go straight up the middle of the beat with minimal tacks) ahead of John T, Paul and Stuart. Paul steadily crept up on John and caught him on the long downwind leg to the finish for 2nd. Stuart held onto 4th from Alastair, closing on the gentle drift downwind in the dying breeze.


Sunday brought a quick contrast, with fresh breeze and dark wind-shadows across the lake,  the wind still SE, almost but not quite directly up the lake, so coming over and round the nearby hill.


Alastair won the Race Three starboard end start from Paul and pulled up fast  to windward to lead at the first mark, chased by Gareth and John who caught him downwind and gradually moved away for another of their battles. John started the second beat just ahead of Gareth but Gareth caught and pulled out large lead which he held to finish.


Alastairís  missed tack (inexcusable on a lake!) saw Stuart and George close up  to battle for third,  until Alastair's 360 after hitting the upwind mark put him back The powerful gusts gave some hair-raising moments but equally places could be lost by hitting a big hole out on the left.  George established a firm claim on 3rd, and Alastair and Stuart crossed the finish only yards apart


Race four after lunch had a complex course in the same strong gusting winds, with Paul Ellis coming out with his 8.5 sqm reduced sail.  The port end starters were unsuccessful, and the starboard end paid off for Gareth and George, taking them into better air in the middle of the lake.  These two moved steadily away to a big lead with good speed upwind and in the storming reaches to hold first and second to the end..


The fight for 3rd place and below was much closer with Stuart holding 3rd for most of the race but John T and Alastair caught him on the last lap. On the final quick dash to the line. Stuart managed to edge back ahead of Alastair for 4th, and John T took 5th.


For Race five, following back to back, the club set a simplified port rounding polygon,  making managing the fierce gusts and lulls simpler, and giving fast reaches. Gareth thought he was going to get a fantastic flying start but only 5mins had elapsed, so. A quick circle took him back midway down the start line .

Nigel won the starboard end, climbed on trapeze and stormed up to windward to lead at the first mark. The chasing fleet closed up, and down wind six Catapults ran in a line across, avoiding a pileup at the downwind mark. Gareth was swept to the outside of the pack, but on the next fast tight reach came through to third 


Starting the next beat, there was confusion, as after the start, the Committee boat left for the comfort of the shore, leaving the outer distance mark and a small buoy-- Gareth George and Stuart correctly decided that the club meant this as the start line,  to go through each time, while five others assumed the Committee boat had removed this..


 Again Gareth and John stretched out trapezing  in the fresh breeze, and again George Evans gradually consolidated a firm grip on third  place.


Johnís lead from lap 2 onwards kept stretching and shrinking as Gareth put in surges. On the final lap, Gareth made a wrong starboard shout, and a 360í took him to just holding off George. On the final beat to the finish, Gareth and George went up the middle of the lake whilst John  went right, not paying off, and giving Gareth a final port tack charge to the line and a win by a whisker.


Review post-race of the start-line confusion decided that the three sailing the correct course should gain a one-place restitution, with no disqualifications, as the briefing had not dealt with this scenario..


For the final race 6, Monday morning came up with strong breezes SSE driving and gusting straight down the lake (daunting enough for Paul and Stuart to elect small sails) but by the start the wind had the dropped back from its fierce gusts and was easily manageable (although trapezing  remained possible) and the cloud had lifted to give fine views down the lake to the hills.


The Race Officers set a long beat going half-way down the lake with zig-zag broad reaches back, and a final shorter beat, and reaches to the finish.


 Stuart from a good start struggled with the smaller rig (a Roundhead with a torn bottom panel removed) moving gradually back on the long beat down the lake. Gareth and John both trapezing  established a duel out in front, and when both over-stood searching for the distant upwind mark (tucked in a little bay)  John stayed on the trapeze on the tight reach to the mark, and edged ahead .


The key to the beat was boat speed to drive through the short chop kicked up down the long lake, and a battle for third saw George emerge, against Paul (not handicapped by flying the 8.5sqm roach-reduced sail) and Cliff Antill. Nigel trapez ing even in the lessened breeze wind had good boat speed upwind, competing with Alastair for sixth until the later reaches let Alastair stream away.


At the front, Gareth and John were neck and neck down the long runs, Gareth overtaking again, and then staying just ahead of John for the rest of the race for the win. George had just enough in hand to defend third in spite of going the wrong way through the finish line!


Gareth  and Alastair

Results.     (
1 discard, marked *)

Place                                         Race 1    Race 2    Race 3    Race 4   Race 5   Race 6          Total

1 Gareth Ede                                2*            1              1            1              1            1                

2 John Terry                                 3              3              2             5*            3            2                

3 George Evans                          4               6*            3             2              2            3                

4 Paul Ellis                                    1              2             10*          3              6            4                

5 Stuart Ede                                 5              4              4             4               5            8*             

6 Alastair Forrest                        6*            5              5             6              4             6               
7 Cliff Antill                                   8*           7               6             7              7             5               

8 Nigel Harrison                          7              8             10*          8              8             7               

9 Damien Cooney                       9              9             10*          9             10          10               

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