2015 Catapult Nationals at Royal Yorkshire YC
August Bank Holiday

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 Catapult returned to its true sea sailing at Bridlington for the 2015 Nationals over the August Bank Holiday weekend, and the RYYC as always gave a great welcome and hospitality. A good fleet of nine met Brid's challenge of handling tidal flow and sea conditions, and the weekend gave a fine mix of wind strength, with all races over three days completed.

  On Saturday, a south-westerly Force 4 gave excellent sailing conditions. Wind and tide in opposition gave a steep chop on top of a longer swell, so that keeping boat speed, and tacking, in the steep seas was a main tactical factor.  The trapezoid/square course, for two back-to-back races, had very long legs, with two surging reaches between the beat and run.

   (Above: Syd Gage chases Stuart Ede through the Day 1 swell.)

The start of Race 1 saw Chris Phillips, Gareth Ede, and Syd Gage cross together on starboard, but Gareth’s boat speed, judging the start to perfection, took the lead. Syd tucked in behind Gareth as his first tack took the fleet in towards the shore. Tacking for the lay line, Gareth passed Stuart Ede (still on port) who tacked across in front of Syd. George Evans (on port) couldn’t quite cross Syd and tacked into his lee. At this point Bridlington’s “Yorkshire Belle” pleasure boat was bearing down on the line of Catapults but sportingly cut the engine and halted, receiving some appreciative “thank you” waves.

 The positions remained unchanged at the windward mark as the leading boats scanned the horizon for a glimpse of the next large yellow marks in the far distance. A fast and furious close reach was followed by a very welcome break downwind, before the even wilder reach back inshore to start the windward leg again. Distances between boats varied considerably for the remaining round of the shortened course. Syd fell further behind Gareth, and George closed on Syd right to the finish, but
Syd successfully defended his second place.

(Right: Gareth Ede trapezes to two wins on the first day.)

(Below left: Alastair goes forward to surf down the SW swell, Race 2, Day 1, just ahead of Syd for the moment.)

(Below right: Stuart Ede aloft over the chop, Day1)

    In Race 2 Alastair took the Committee boat end with Syd a few boat lengths behind, but Stuart reached down to the pin end to cross first. Syd gained upwind bearing away and going faster.Stuart was the first to tack, followed by Syd, who had to immediately duck behind Alastair, who was being followed closely by George. Only seconds behind were Chris and Gareth.Syd pushed hard to catch Alastair (Photo above) while Stuart, hiking hard, was overtaken by Gareth, trapezing early upwind to an unassailable lead and first place. George battled past Syd to windward, and stretched away, the boats plunging and slamming in the steep chop.

  Alastair stole Syd’s wind only metres from the windward mark and went ahead, but once past the mark Syd vented his frustration on the reach and caught Alastair. Places swappedseveral times on the run, until Syd’s boat-speed held the second reach. Stuart tried tacking downwind, to build surfing speed, gaining on the leaders in Lap 1, but losing out alongside Syd and Alastair on the second lap.
  Upwind, with boats plunging and slamming in the steep chop, the Darts passed the Catapult fleet, and Stuart passed to leeward of Syd to be ahead at the top. A hard-fought struggle followed, but by the end of the next downwind reach Syd had regained his third place held to the finish.

Sunday saw a big change, with the breeze round to the NNE-north, and very light until a delayed start let it build by lunchtime to a steadier Force 1-2. The tidal conditions became a bigger factor, but another square course was off-set, so the beat was heavily skewed, with fewer options.

As well, the starts for the port-rounding “square” were skewed to port through the day’s three races (back-to-back after the postponed start.) The skewed start pushed the fleet out to sea on port, although logical tactics (following the Darts) were to go along shore on starboard with less tide.

The other big change on Sunday was the delayed arrival of John Terry, who quickly put his stamp on proceedings and ended Gareth's comfortable domination of Saturday

On Race 3 John Terry followed by Alastair picked the port end start advantage, to hold a useful lead. Gareth came up through the fleet on the long second lap to take and hold second although unable to catch John. In the second lap, John Peperell built upwind good speed, but George came through to catch first him and then Alastair to take another third place.

(Right: Stuart eases downwind in the light Day 2 breeze.)

   Race 4 had the same skewed start line, and again John and Alastair used the port tack start to gain a good lead, but again Gareth came up through the fleet. These three stretched out, keeping close round the long first lap, but in lap 2 John's boat speed told. He and Alastair using the tactic of going along the shore to avoid tide found little advantage over Garth who continured out to sea on port, and John, chased by Gareth pulled away for a second win. Behind, George who had been battling Syd, came through to again catch Alastair by better upwind boat speed and take another third.

 For Race 5, set back-to-back in rapidly-dropping temperatures as the afternoon wore on, the Race Officer decided on one lap only. The port-end advantage remained, with the favoured tactic of going along the shore on starboard. This time, John T decided to disrupt the port-tack starters by coming down to the outer pin on starboard, but was late (stemming the tide) letting first George then Alastair escape the trap and cross ahead of him.

 Gareth again continued on port out to sea, not losing out in the tide, and gaining from better breeze, rounding close ahead of John, to hold these positions to the finish. Alastair continued further along the shore, gaining slightly to round just behind George and chase him on the next legs and to slowly close on the final run. George defended successfully a boat-length ahead. Meanwhile Stuart had taken a lower course, perhaps getting a little less tide, and at the end came slicing up to the mark, to take fourth from Alastair by the length of a bow-board.  

brought a good sailing breeze for the final race, Force 3-4 from the north (the pleasure only slightly dampened by persisting rain.) 

 Race 6
kept the same port-rounding square, this time with dramatically-shortened legs. The  three-lap race was going to be short, making the start key, and Alastair and Stuart were at the line just before the hooter, tight on the Committee boat---Stuart so much so that, from a moments distraction from a dropped mainsheet, he hit it with an echoing thump. (Stuart managed to include two 360’ in the very short race, after also brushing the downwind mark!)

 Alastair capitalised on the start to lead at the upwind mark, but John T came past on the next reach, and Gareth by the end of the run, these two gradually moving away with their consistent boat speed (both able to gain from trapezing the two short tacks upwind.) John held Gareth off for his third win, and behind the Darts crowding the fleet at the marks helped Alastair hold his third around the three short laps, with George pushing up behind into fourth.

(Right: George smashes the chop on the reach, Race 6, inches from Syd, and flying his pennant as winner of the last event.)

Report: Syd Gage and Alastair Forrest


     Place                                Race 1       Race 2       Race 3      Race 4       Race 5
       Race 6        Nett        Total

        1       Gareth Ede                1               1                 2               (2)             1                2                9               7

        2       John Terry            (10 DNC)   10 DNC         1                 1                2               1               25             15

        3       George Evans            3              3                 3                3                 3              (4)             19            15

        4       Alastair Forrest       (5)             5                 4                4                5               3               25             20

        5       Syd Gage                    2               3              (6)               5                6               5                27             21

        6       Stuart Ede                  4              4               (7)               6                4               7                32             25

        7       Chris Phillips              6              6             (10 DNC)   10 DNC    10 DNC          6              48              38

        8       Damien Cooney     10 DNF   (10 DNC)        8                 7                7           10 DNC        52             42

        9       John Peperell        (10 DNF)  10 DNF          5           10 DNS      10 DNC      10 DNC        55             45   


  Gareth's string of firsts and seconds gave him the 2015 Championship, pushed by John Terry whose late arrival scored a DNS but was followed by three wins in four races.This let him gain second on count-back, just prised from George Evans.

 With the Nationals points
 counting for the Travelling Trophy,  Alastair Forrest scored enough to cling on to the top of the TT Leaderboard and the Yellow Pennant, just one point from George, with John only two points behind again.

(Below: Chris leads Gareth at the start, day 1)


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