Catapult TT at Bewl Water
April 11th-12th

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   The traditional April start at Bewl Water SC blasted off the 2015 season, with a good attendance, welcoming Owen Fackrell as a new racing member, and John Coster back for more after starting in 2014. Six boats had a great practice round the lake on Saturday 11th, in fresh  westerlies and sunshine (photo below) enough for some steady trapezing, and eyeing up the potential opposition.  George Evans and Syd Gage travelled down to new racing water, George hunting TT points campaigning his new Hyde sail.

Serious racing on Sunday 12th saw the forecast WSW Force 6 begin to kick in during the morning, but varying wildly. The Catapults again failed to fully pick up the starting signals with only John Terry away well, followed by Alex Montgomery. The late starts made it difficult to gauge boat speeds across the fleet.

Over four laps of a triangular course, Alex pulled up to the front. Behind, George Evans with his new Hyde sail gained gradually on Alastair Forrest (photo below, left) racing away when Alastair hit a hole in the breeze, and then building speed to push John back into third. A touched mark put Alex back, and then George's boat speed took him through to the win.

 Further back, late starts gave their own race for Syd Gage chased by Owen Fackrell, who gained on Syd (campaigning the unique Roundhead sail made by John Peperall) (photo below.)  Failing to react quickly enough to one of the gusts tipped Alastair in, upwind on the final lap, ending his event early (see photo and cautionary notes at bottom of page.)

 (Above: George hunts Alastair down, Race 1)                 (Above: Owen Fackrell's distinctive main gets going.)

By Race 2, the wind had steadied to a strong breeze, Force5 gusting 6, putting the boats at their limits, and only Alex and George stayed out for the back-to-back start, getting away well and battling closely round the same course, George surviving a ferocious gybe to push Alex to the finish (photo below, Alex holding a few yards advantage to the final stretch.)


                                  Place                                           Race 1          Race 2           Total

                                      1      Alex Montgomery            2                  1                     3

                                      2      George Evans                   1                 2                     3              

                                      3      John Terry                         3                DNS                 11             

                                      4       Syd Gage                          4                DNS                 12             

                                      5      Owen Fackrell                  5                 DNS                 14

                                      6       Alastair Forrest             DNF             DNS                 15             

                                      7       John Coster                    DNS             DNS                 16 

   Below: Fleet away, Race 1

Below: The aftermath of Alastair’s capsize and failed righting efforts. He has had time to think of the lessons, while drifting to shore and getting safety boat assistance.

   Some are:

  -- Prepare the boat 
 for sailing in strong winds. (He had not renewed the “tags” securing the centreboards in place, and had to flounder around retrieving one, further delaying recovery.) (He lost his hi-spec woolly hat  as well.) 

  -- Tie the mast foot 
tightly down into the socket; the strong forces with the mast fully canted while capsized eventually flipped it out.

  -- Ensure that the 
topmast is fully watertight; in the slow recovery, the mast leaked, and finished any possibility of recovery. (See article on Mast Buoyancy -Testing and Sealing)

  -- Know the righting sequence so well that it can be done quickly when upside down, and in the water.This means knowing the overall plan, the exact ropes to access, and where they will be with the boat over or on its side.

The boat went fully inverted, so the mast had to be canted one way to give buoyancy to lift one hull, which was initially successful----then it needed to be canted the other way to tilt the trampoline back, to climb up. But thinking this through in the crisis was slow, and although the boat came back from fully inverted, by that time the mast had water in it, so was not giving reliable buoyancy, so that in turn jumping back into the water, to get at the shroud controls  to recant the mast did not seem practicable---but equally, there was no way the boat could be pulled up with the weight of the trampoline going the wrong way.

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