Champagne sailing on the English Riviera

Report by Jonathan Peats
A combination of a high wind forecast and a late addition to the Moth calendar saw a smaller than usual turnout for the International Moth open at Royal Torbay Yacht Club on the 24th and 25th October. Not to be deterred by the forecast four travelling Moths from Queen Mary were joined by Mike Cooke who was keen to try out his new 2010 Ninja design and treated to some Champagne sailing over the weekend although someone had definitely shaken the bottle up.
Saturday’s start was delayed by an hour as the PRO waited for the conditions to moderate from the 29 knot gusts being recorded in the bay. Conditions eased slightly but with 25 knots still hitting the committee boat, the fleet launched. James Phare was an early casualty breaking his boom on the exit to the harbour, but the rest of the fleet made it safely to the start and the PRO started the racing promptly. The conditions however quickly took their toll and Doug Pybus retired after his mast came down. Mike Cooke was finding the new Ninja’s setup still needed some tweaking to cope with the extreme conditions and also decided to come back in.
This left Andrew Friend and Jonathan Peats battling the conditions as much as each other round the course. Andrew Friend took an early lead but after a number of capsizes by both boats it was Jonathan Peats who made it to the windward mark first. Further capsizes allowed Andrew Friend to take the lead by the leeward mark, and having battled round a single lap of the mile long course both boats were not too disappointed to find the PRO had decided that conditions had deteriorated too far and cancelled racing for the day.
Sunday greeted the fleet with near perfect foiling conditions of bright sunshine and a steady 18 knot breeze. Despite the clocks changing James Phare had an early start, driving halfway to Bristol and back to pick up a new boom, allowing all five boats to line up to launch. The first race saw Mike Cooke and Andrew Friend covering each other on the left of the course with Doug Pybus recovering from a poor start, heading inland which put him right back in contention. Mike Cooke and Andrew Friend both got knocked over by a big gust coming into the windward mark allowing Doug Pybus to round first and set off on the fast and exciting downwind leg. With the wind increasing significantly towards the bottom of the course conditions were back to being tricky and Mike Cooke with a much improved setup, overhauled Doug Pybus to take the lead by the leeward mark. Andrew Friend was still in touch in his Bladerider X8 and followed Mike Cooke closely up the next leg. With the wind gradually increasing all boats capsized a number of times and Andrew Friend managed to overhaul Mike Cooke on the next windward leg and then hold on to take the win.
Race 2 saw Doug Pybus retire early on with technical problems leaving Mike Cooke and Andrew Friend to have a close battle round the course with Jonathan Peats further back. Conditions worsened through the race and again it was the boat to capsize the least taking line honours with Andrew Friend just in front of Mike Cooke. Jonathan Peats followed about half a lap behind to finish third and record the fastest speed of the weekend with 25.0 knots recorded on the GPS in a big gust towards the bottom of the course.
With only three boats left and the wind still increasing, a decision to halt the racing was taken leaving Andrew Friend taking 1st place from Mike Cooke in 2nd, Jonathan Peats 3rd, Doug Pybus 4th. An unlucky James Phare was in 5th who had barely got out of the harbour before gear failure on both days.
Special thanks to Royal Torbay Yacht Club for putting on the open meeting at short notice and for the good race organisation in tricky conditions. Royal Torbay is a possible venue for the National Championships next year, and all who attended agreed it would be a fantastic event if it were held there.

Torquay pics

I’ve had a couple of pictures through from Richard Meek from the Torquay mini open over the weekend. It looks quite sedate in the pictures but that was far from the case! Will have a proper report shortly…

Carbon badassery

Ninja Tuna is now ready and raring to go. Tried to go launch her this weekend but discovered that you can walk across most of the lake at the moment as the water level is so low! Should be going down to Torquay for an unofficial open this weekend if the forecast looks OK…

Got some interesting sail development stuff going on at the moment with Mike Lennon and Kevin Ellway working on a prototype sail for me which I’m looking forward to getting my hands on. Building is in full swing at Aardvark HQ with a boat for Jason Belben half done and Olivier Vidal following soon after but after a long spell off the water I’m looking forward to actually going sailing myself!

Riding the Tide

Hayling did the usual thing it does most octobers and blew it’s nuts off. Leaving us all trying to cram in a load of races on the Sunday. The Moths had the biggest turnout at the event, which was great news although the Hayling fleet alone could have added 50% to the numbers if they had all gone sailing!

The breeze was blowing across the club, making things pretty shifty and there wasn’t quite enough wind to keep foiling all the way meaning the fleet spread out quite a lot and shutting out most people from the 5 minute time window after the first place finisher.
Fat Bottomed Girl was doing me proud though, as once she was foiling she was putting many of the newer boats to shame! The setup and geometry was a bit of a best guess and the lack of early foiling could have been solved with a bit more a-o-a on the main foil – unfortunately I had no time for a test sail to figure such things out…

In most races I managed to sneak into the top 5 at the windward mark, but the runs were always my undoing as I seemed to luck out with lulls and fluffed gybes and at least one HISC rib driving in front of me while not looking… I was certainly in the top half of the fleet by the finish of most races. Unfortunately Hayling decided to run a final race at nearly 4 oclock in the afternoon leaving me with little time to pack up and get home so I decided to skip this part.

It was quite an interesting format, with a miniseries in the morning counting for half of your score and the final race counting for the other half. The slalon style gated course was actually quite entertaining and certainly put boat handling to the test.
Adam put in a good score in the miniseries but lost it in the final to Rod Harris who is continuing his fine form and showing everyone the Prowler still cuts it at the pointy end.

My new Ninja is about to have some paint thrown its way – will get some pictures up when she starts looking finished. I am really looking forward to getting back on the water for the winter and all the crazy handicap events England throws at us!