Catapult Nationals and TT  races  at the Bala Gala

22nd  -  25th July 2012


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BALA: THE NATIONALS RACES                                (and the Unofficial Report and more photos here)

 
  After a  mirror-calm lake on Saturday morning, the building wind stayed SW for the three days, straight up the lake, peaking on Sunday at Force 6 (marginal conditions for sailing) and on Monday giving an ideal racing Force 4 for two final races.

 This direction allowed Don Findlay as Race Officer to set the same course each day, a rectangle with two fast reaches (with a dog-leg round the starting spit in the long downwind leg, tactically important.)

   By Race 1 on Saturday afternoon, the SW blew 10-15 mph (enough for Gareth Ede to start trapezing!) swinging unpredictably several degrees. Stuart Ede’s good start translated into a boost from the breeze in the middle of the lake, and a lead round the first of two laps, chased by a pack.
As always at Bala, his lead shrank on the downwind leg as the wind filled in from behind to benefit Alex Montgomery, John Terry and Gareth.

   After a tight second long beat, the pack of Stuart, Gareth, Alex and John arrived at downwind mark together, but Alex with the inside berth had let off his shrouds downwind so that mast would lean further forward and forgot to re-tension. Re-sorting it gifted Gareth the lead, who then covered Alex tack for tack to the line, with John Terry following in third.
Further back, Alastair Forrest and John Pepperell on had made a useful gain downwind staying out in the middle before gybing to the downwind mark, and their early tack into the middle of the lake gave them a big boost, Alastair catching Paul Ellis for 5th.

Below: Close sailing, Race 1, coming to the gybe at the downwind dog-leg by the starting spit..



   In Race 2, Stuart and Nigel Harrison picked the port start advantage to cross ahead of the pack, with
Alex then leading Stuart at the windward mark with Gareth and John T in close pursuit. The leader’s gap was closed down on the downwind leg, but unlucky windshifts saw Stuart fall back down the fleet on the next beat. John T defended the lead in the close pack of three downwind, Gareth then reaching past Alex. On the final beat, Gareth opted to defend second rather than try to pull back John T's lead, and successfully matched every tack Alex threw in to hold second. Coming up in fourth, Nigel concluded they were tacking on windshifts and exhausted himself matching them behind.

 
Sunday morning brought sunshine on whitecaps down the lake and dark gusts shaking the boats at the water’s edge. Conditions stayed marginal through two postponements by the Race Officer, leading to confusion and drama after the cautious helms gazing at the lake welcomed Alex’ offer of a trial sail. He raced out to test some reaches and the run, the bows dipping suddenly at times, but in control. Meanwhile the RO watched the time count down through the postponement period, reminding the assembly several times that it was he who determined when any racing went ahead or not.

   At the end of the time, up went the flags for Race 3, and only Alastair had a sail up. He threw the sail controls together and the boat on the water, surging off to let Alex know the starting timing, and after a tight start and beat, Alex pulled steadily ahead as the solitary two thrashed round the course. (Later, they wondered with some guilt if they should have declined the start----but recount showed that their positions for the event would have been unchanged, and their start had confirmed the RO’s correct judgment that the conditions were inside the boat’s envelope.)

Below: Alex bombs down the lake on his test run in the whitecaps


 
 For Race 4 several cautious helms opted to stay off the windswept lake, waves now big enough to handicap consistent speed.  A tight bunch of four contested the starboard pin end, trapezing fast up the beat and fighting out the whole first run and tight reach, In the next long beat Alex elected to go lower to gain extra consistent speed, stretching out enough to hold the gain round the second lap to take another first.  
John T and Gareth close behind stayed duelling until on the final beat to line, Gareth made a tactical error. Crossing tacks with John T and thinking that John T was able to lay the finish line on starboard tack, he tacked to cover. He then realised he wasn't on the lay line at all, and tacking back fluffed the tack, allowing John T to claim the second.

   Further back,
a dislodged rudder bar sent Nigel over (recovering quickly from complete inversion.) Stuart elected a cut-down sail, finding he had lower speed overall (but pushing for fourth after Alastair’s port rudder failure made tacking precarious.) To John P’s frustration, the race got underway while he was still testing a cut-down rig, but trials alongside the racing boats showed great promise, with the sail reduction taking out mainly the high roundhead roach, leaving the narrowed foil still high.



Above: Alex Montgomery concentrates on another win, to take the 2012 Catapult Nationals.

Right: John Terry, with a convincing second place after hard battling at Bala

 Monday brought cloud over North Wales (with England bathed in sunshine) but a good racing Force 4, letting Gareth Ede trapeze comfortably throughout and others try.

  In Race 5, Stuart elected a port end start, but was just caught by John Terry’s storming starboard start, leading a tight bunch.
Alex, and then John T and Paul led up the beat to the windward mark, closely followed by Gareth. The race stayed very close (with six boats within 30 yards as the front groups ran past the starting spit.)
 
With frequent crossing of tacks up the next beat, Alex maintained a small lead, and the top four stayed in close contention on the next downwind leg. On final beat to the finish Gareth closed down the gap on Alex to take second, whilst Paul caught John T on starboard to gain a narrow third place.

 
In Race 6 Alastair and Stuart’s port end start saw them cross ahead of the starboard pack, and then fall back when they headed into a lighter patch. Gareth then got a good lift further up the lake as he crossed to the right-hand shore on port tack, to be second at the windward mark behind Paul, with Alex close.

  At the end of a neck and neck long downwind leg, Gareth ducked behind Paul and then got a gust to carry him ahead, along the reach and into the beat crossing tacks with Paul and Alex. The battle ended for Gareth, when he was dumped in the water from the trapeze as his mainsheet strop snapped, and Alex pulled away for an emphatic first. Alastair grabbed the fourth, and Nigel just held Gareth off to cross the line a metre ahead.

 (Gareth Ede and Alastair Forrest)


RESULTS

Rank

SailNo

HelmName

R1

R2

R3

R4

R5

R6

Points

1st

1

Alex Montgomery

2.0

(3.0)

1.0

1.0

1.0

1.0

6.0

2nd

533

John Terry

3.0

1.0

(14.0 DNC)

2.0

4.0

2.0

12.0

3rd

91

Gareth Ede

1.0

2.0

(14.0 DNC)

3.0

2.0

8.0

16.0

4th

524

Alastair Forrest

5.0

5.0

2.0

4.0

(6.0)

5.0

21.0

5th

531

Stuart Ede

4.0

8.0

(14.0 DNC)

5.0

7.0

6.0

30.0

6th

507

Paul Ellis

6.0

6.0

(14.0 DNC)

14.0 DNC

3.0

3.0

32.0

7th

523

Nigel Harrison

9.0

4.0

(14.0 DNC)

14.0 DNC

8.0

7.0

42.0

8th

510

George Evans

(13.0 DNF)

11.0

14.0 DNC

14.0 DNC

5.0

4.0

48.0

9th

540

John Peperell

7.0

9.0

(14.0 DNC)

14.0 DNC

9.0

9.0

51.0

10th

518

Justin Evans

8.0

7.0

(14.0 DNF)

14.0 DNF

14.0 DNC

14.0 DNC

57.0

11th

230

Steve Fenner

(14.0 DNF)

10.0

14.0 DNC

14.0 DNC

14.0 DNF

14.0 DNF

66.0

12th 195     Damien Cooney (14,
 DNF)
      11          14         14        14       14        67

13th

0

K Overzee

(14.0 DNF)

12.0

14.0 DNC

14.0 DNC

14.0 DNF

14.0 DNF

68.0

    Unofficial Report and more photos here

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