Catapult TT Racing Reports

Minnis Bay Cat Open: Saturday April.18 and Sunday April 19

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Results and Reports 2008

The Catapult TT season blasted off at Minnis Bay in a demanding NE breeze, Force 4-6, onshore for the north Kent coast.

It is the home club of new Catapult sailor Sandy Jordan, and her partner Simon Northrop, who makes the successful new sail for the class.

 Sandy had already decided that it was beyond her at this stage, and welcomed the four Catapults arriving (more than the scheduled Spitfire fleet)

catapult catamarans beating in Minnis Bay
Alex leads Alastair pounding upwind (photos Minnis Bay SC)

The initial wind against the tide with steep seas, and the later strengthening of the breeze, gave testing conditions for three back-to-back races on a windward-leeward course. The long open-water legs meant that there was little to watch out for from the Hurricanes sharing the course.

For Race 1, only Cliff Antill had a good start, and he kept the lead to the windward mark and subsequent lap, not trapezing for security in the steep seas. The others all trapezed, the extra power giving drive at the cost of pounding. Tacking was challenging, and Paul Ellis fell back, while Alastair, holding second place, gained on Cliff

The course took the boats outside the very long start line downwind, so that if the starboard side was elected there was effectively a long triangle (and a broad lead with dashes down waves, at speed and with heavy helm) The option to port of the Committee boat was dead downwind, and more sedate but slower.

On the second lap, Alex Montgomery, following Alastair Forrest around the windward mark, nosedived as he powered up downwind and capsized, recovering quickly.

(Occurring well out to sea, this did not dent the belief on-shore that only the Catapults were handling the conditions, with Hurricanes and others flipped over around the scene. Only the Catapults had all boats complete the first race.)

Alastair, having to turn back to round the start buoy, had Alex and Paul come up, and missed tacks pushed him to fourth. Cliff carried on ahead, to be finally caught by Alex on the last beat.

Catapult catamaran beats in heavy seas
Alex jumping to windward (note the horizon)

In Race 2, Cliff again got way well, with Alex moving fast and into the lead. Again, missed tacks in the steep seas were decisive, while boat speed remained evenly matched. Alastair retired to shore when the tiller bar pintles loosened, and Alex led Cliff and Paul in.

The Catapults were sailing races of around 75 minutes, and the demanding conditions had drained Cliff and Paul, who elected to miss the third back-to-back. Alastair returned, but Alex led well away, with a good lead after another missed tack.

On the next beat, Alastair going fast into a wave decelerated sharply and swung forward on the trapeze, to hang in the water. He assumed that boat would come head to wind and then be pulled over, but it sat on the same tack, held by him dragging in the water, while he collected his thoughts and struggled aboard (not an experience to be repeated, but reassuring)

(right: Alex dives downwind, actually under control)

catapult catamaran running fast in steep seas

Alex was way ahead, and Alastair followed him in, the last boat left on the water amongst the whitecaps. Alex realised later that, tired after three taxing races, he had gone through the start line downwind on the third, and he withdrew.

Catapult catamarans beating in steep seas The next day dawned sunny and warm everywhere in southern England except the North Kent coast, with a cold onshore NE Force 4-5 and cloud.

The three remaining Catapults watched the breaking seas and came to the mature judgement that the conditions were unlikely to be survivable, and even if survived, not enjoyable in any normal sense, a conclusion eventually reached by all the fleets except a small handful of the F18s.

It was a bracing start to the season, and good to be welcomed at Minnis Bay for the first time there.


                      1st               Alex Montgomery     (1, 1, DNF)
                      2nd              Cliff Antill                (2, 2, DNS)
                      3rd               Alastair Forrest        (4, DNF,1)
                      4th               Paul Ellis                 (3, 3, DNS)


  Remember the last time you arrived late to rig?   Sunshine at Minnis Bay in 2008                              (photo MBSC)