North Sails NEWS

Story Contributors: Nick Craig, Mark Barnes, Patrick Clarke


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Hosts of the event, Restronguet Sailing Club provided a great mix of conditions for the GUL B14 skiff Championships. Day one brought three very different races. Launching in a force four which soon reduced to a force two by the start of the race, The Anthill Mob (Tim Harrison/Jonny Ratcliffe) showed their light wind prowess to win the first race from Harken (Nick Craig/Tobytastic Lewis).

With the wind becoming shifty and continuing to drop for race two, Team GUL/North Sails (Mark Barnes/Char Horlock) responded well to these shifts, maintaining a healthy lead until Harken found some lucky pressure, turning a five-minute deficit into an impressive win in very little wind. The Anthill Mob recovered to third from choosing the wrong side of the course on an exceptionally hard to call first beat, finishing ahead of Brightmile (Mark Watts/Stig Rogers).

The wind died to nothing in the afternoon of day one, as race officer, Phil Slater, hoisted AP over I. However, after spotting some wind in the estuary, the fleet were greeted by a 15 knot northerly and sunshine – champagne sailing! With all to play for going into day two, Harken had the edge with four teams in close contention. The plan to have four races at the lower end of Carrick Roads off of Falmouth did not look promising as the fleet arrived on the water to sunshine and a dying breeze on day two. Luckily, a force two to three filed in from the south.

Race four had a clean first start with Harken, Demelza (Peter Knight/James Wilkinson), Team GUL/North Sails and The Anthill Mob fighting it out at the front of the fleet. First to pull through and take race one was Harken. Demelza showed her local knowledge finishing in second and Asbo (Crispin Taylor/Ralph Singleton) appeared under the radar taking third from Team GUL/North SailsDamelza dominated race five and Team GUL/North Sails took their first win in race six.

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With one hand on the trophy, Harken were out of race seven after snagging a buoy, leaving the win open to the rest of the fleet. Brightmile took up the challenge, chased by The Anthill Mob and Demelza. An exciting final day was to follow as just 2.5 points separated The Anthill Mob, Demelza and Team GUL/North Sails. With similar conditions, day three brought sun and dying breeze to the racecourse which was set in the upper half of Carrick Roads, off Mylor Harbour. 5-8 knots arrived making local knowledge paramount in such a complex channel.

The Beast (Gary Parks/Chris Webber) set the pace on race eight with the top five scattered across the course. Over two laps they held true, but on the last lap Harken and Team GUL/North Sails were keen to challenge The Beast. On the final run, a kite line wrap released Harken and a split occurred. The Beast headed into pressure and slight adverse current as the other two teams sailed inshore. At the finish, Harken held on, but Team GUL/North Sails could not take second from The Beast, resulting in just a few metres between the three boats at the finish. In fourth came BrightmileThe Anthill Mob took fifth and Demelza slipped into seventh.

The breeze died for race nine, so the fleet returned to Circus Maximus, the arena off of Falmouth at the bottom of Carrick Roads. Breeze steadied at 5-6 knots and the tide turned. Demelza meant business and led the fleet at the windward mark. Harken found a lane and took second place. The Anthill Mob and Team GUL/North Sails chased in third and fourth with Asbo and Brightmile hitting the current forcing them back to fifth and sixth. Numbers were calculated. Harken’s consistency meant they had won, but all else was up for grabs. Time to perform when it mattered most.

Going into the final, deciding race, Team GUL/North Sails got rolled at the Committee Boat on the start line, The Anthill Mob got caught at the pin as a shift came through and Demelza, positioned at the middle of the line, was in her stride. Team GUL/North Sails chose mid-left on the first beat, reaching the windward mark with Better Than Life (Steve Hollingsworth/ Joe Tosh) and Demelza. The downwind leg caused a split between these three boats, with Team GUL/North Sails hooking both boats at the gate. On the last beat, Brightmile came in to play. As the final downwind was so close, Harken, Brightmile and Demelza fought it out with Team GUL/North Sails shadowing ahead. Finishing within seconds, it would be when the sailors got ashore that they discovered their finishing position.

Harken took a worthy win, The Anthill Mob had fallen away to confirm fourth, but second place was decided by the rule book as Team Gul/North Sails and Damelza both finished on 23.5 points. Team GUL/North Sails had just done enough, meaning Dalmelza took a well earned third place. Team GUL/North Sails also took first female crew with Char Horlock onboard.

The fleet now looks forward to the Carnac Europeans and World Championship which looks like they are set to be nail-biting events after such tight results at the UK Nationals.

For more information on B14 Championship winning sails, visit our class page.

📸Patrick Clarke 
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