Catapult Nationals and Bala Gala
Bala Catamaran Club: Saturday to Monday: 1st-3rd July 2017

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 We'll head again for the Wild West (of Wales) for our annual Bala Gala! While the aim of all our events is to have a thoroughly enjoyable time, our Bala Gala offers fun in spades.There is something for everyone: fun races, coaching, serious races (well, as serious as they get in our class) and a buzzing social scene. As ever Bala Cat Club at Llangower, North Wales will be doing their level best to offer us a great time.

There will be 6 races for the TT (with one discard coming into operation when 4 or more races have been sailed).

 On the fun side we are planning a Pairs Race, when improvers are paired up with an expert for some on-the-water tips, a Pursuit Race based on personal handicaps, and a Relay Race (always good for a laugh).

 The first start will be at 12.00 on Saturday (briefing at 11.30). Racing is not obligatory, and you can be as laid back or as competitive as you want.

 The entry fee for the weekend is expected to be £55 (including the CCA levy).


              Saturday 1st July                                                         Sunday 2nd July

     10.00 – 11.30 Registration                                           11.00 Nationals Race 3
     11.30 Briefing                                                                  Back-to-back Race 4
     12.00 – 13.00 Pairs race                                               13.00 – 14.30 Lunch
     13.00 – 14.30 Lunch                                                      14.30 - 15.30 Nationals Race 5
     14.30  Nationals Race 1                                                 15.45 – 16.45 Pursuit Race (personal handicaps)
      Back-to-back Race 2
     16.00 – 17.00 Relay Race                                   17.30 – 18.30     Annual General Meeting

19.00 Evening meal (tba)                                      19.00 for 19.30   Evening meal, Brytirion Inn, Llandderfel (tbc)

                                Monday 3rd July

                11.00 – 12.00    Nationals Race 6
                12.15 – 13.15    Spare slot for any postponed Nationals or Fun races
                13.15 – 14.30    Lunch

                14.30                   Prizegiving


For those wanting to brush up their skills Stuart Ede will be organising improver coaching for the day (or possibly two) immediately prior to the event. This can include virtuallyanything you want, from capsize drill, boatspeed, trapezing and tacking and gybing practice, to an introduction to racing and tactics, or a rules clinic.

Please let Stuart know what you would like by Monday 20th June (at, or 01904
738158), so he can line up the most appropriate expert to help.


SAILING AT BALA   (Get advice from local Catapult sailor George Evans)

   Bala is a wonderful place for sailing Catapults. The club is at one end of a big lakeside campsite, with a small clubhouse  providing basic changing facilities and a small kitchen for the club members camping for the weekend.

   There  is wide grassy area to rig Catapults and leave them overnight (photos below) The grass area is beside shingle  beaches (above) with ample room to launch and to pull the boats up between races.

The lake runs SW--NE, good for the prevailing winds, and it is also open to NW breezes at the SW end, so good sailing conditions can usually be relied on. Most of the lake is deep, and so marks are fixed close to the shore. At the SW end, with lower hills, the wind is less affected, but in the middle, steeper land can  give significant wind shadows around marks near the shore.

   Starts are on the 5-4-1-go sequence, very efficiently and firmly managed.   All starts are from shore, on a spit midway down the lake (pictures above and  below) on a line between a frame set up onshore for the line and flags, and a mark in the middle of the lake. (Sound signals may be indistinct when the favoured end of the line is away from the shore.)

  The fixed start line often gives an upwind start in one or other direction, but there may be skewed or reaching starts.The spit gives a great place to watch racing, as courses are usually laid  on both side of the spit, with the boats going past upwind  and down. Courses are often figure-8 or lozenges around the spit. (A tactical point is that the only shallows in the lake run out from the spit for about 20 yards.)

The small bay NE of the spit presents interesting tactical questions in the prevailing SW wind. Most visitors head out into the lake for clear breeze, but local sailors  can get a lift tacking into the bay from the downwind mark.

catapult catamaran fleet at Bala

Above: looking NE to the top of the lake

Right: The Bala start and finish is from the spit and beach where the lake narrows halfway up----a good position for watching and relaxing

        (Click for Reports 2008 and Bala Gala 2009 and 2010 and 2012 and here for 2013, and Bala Gala 2014)



On the Saturday evening the Cat Club will be organising an evening meal (plus veggie options), and Catapult sailors and families are specially invited. Local ale may be on sale, but bring your own wine and soft drinks.

 For Sunday, the Catapult contingent will head off for the evening meal to a local pub known to be good from past Bala Galas.


For those of you that want to have your say at the AGM or just listen to what’s happening in the Association, this will be held at 1730 on Sunday evening in the BCC clubhouse.

 The AGM agenda and call for nominations and proposals have been issued. All members are welcome to attend



 If you haven't fixed up your camping yet with a pitch in the "Catapult Village" at the Bala lakeside campsite (or other accommodation)  you would be well advised to book early, as even though the Gala falls outside school holidays this year, Bala is a popular holiday venue.

  The Campsite next to the Cat Club is called Pant-yr-Onnen and has a website at (01743 718283). Ask for a pitch near the Cat Club.

If camping is not your thing, then there are plenty of hotels and B&Bs in Bala and surrounding villages, because this is a major centre for touring Snowdonia and the rest of North Wales.Tourist information is on 01678 521021, or there are lots of websites offering accommodation in the area (eg or Again get yourself booked in early to avoid disappointment.

  Bala Cat Club is situated on the south side of Lake Tegid (Bala Lake) near the hamlet of Llangower. From the main crossroads at the eastern end of Bala's main street take the B4391 heading south. After crossing the north eastern end of the lake turn right on to the B4403. Follow this for about 2.5 miles and look out for the club sign on the right that takes you down a track over a humpback bridge into the camp site. Turn right through the campsite and the Club is at the far end.

The drive to Bala from Llangollen is very attractive, high in the Dee valley. An alternative coming from the south or east (taking no longer) for a "Wales experience" is turning off the A5 a bit after Shrewsbury onto the B4396 signposted through Knockin ( and yes, the General Store there is called the Knockin Shop, boom-boom) to go  through Llangynog on the B4391, into soft Welsh countryside until climbing from Llangynog high in a steep valley, out onto moorland, before descending quickly to Bala.

Make a holiday of it

Many members turn this event in to a great holiday by extending their stays before and after the weekend and taking the opportunity to tour the magnificent
Snowdonia National Park. If you’re particularly energetic, in addition to the great walking there is excellent mountain biking in the Coed-y-Brenin Forest or white water kayaking at the National Whitewater Centre above Bala Town.

Into steam trains? For the kids there is the narrow gauge steam railway that runs along the lake right past the Cat Club, and slightly further afield there are the Ffestiniog and Talyllyn narrow gauge railways and the recently opened Welsh Highland line from Portmadog to Caernarvon.

These lines form part of North Wales's industrial heritage. If you want to learn more about one of the area's most famous exports, then you can go down a slate mine at Blaenau Ffestiniog. What's more the Guardian recently featured how Blaenau Ffestiniog has developed a number of other tourist attractions including a hair-raising zip slide!

How about castles? There are more than you can shake a stick at: Conwy, Penrhyn, Caernarvon, Beaumaris, Cricceith, Harlech and many more.

If you are a garden fanatic, then the world famous Bodnant Gardens near Conwy are within easy reach. hen there are the fabulous beaches generously spread around Cardigan Bay, the Lleyn Peninsula and Anglesey. Or how about a stroll through the italianate streets of Portmeirion famous for its pottery and being the scenic backdrop to the 60s hit series the Prisoner?

This is the venue that has everything: fabulous surroundings and great sailing. It is the high spot in the Catapult calendar, so don't miss it!