MUSTO Skiff Harken GBR Circuit Event 3: 2 - 4th and 5th of May 2019 Wilsonian Sailing ClubReport by Tom Taylor
Photos by Tim Olin http://olinphoto.co.uk/index.php/2019/05/06/wilsonian-sailing-club-harken-musto-skiff-and-blaze-open-2019/
A 22 boat fleet were warmly welcomed by the team at Wilsonian Sailing Club for the third Harken GBR Circuit Event of the season; breeze was forecast and the sun was shining for this two day special over the bank holiday weekend.
Contrary to Saturday’s spicier forecast, the fleet launched in relative calm, wafting out to the first bend of the river; all buoyed by the Race Officer’s optimism, and with the words, “it’s nothing you guys can’t handle”, ringing in their ears.
Away from the shelter of the north shore, a death defying fetch to the race area ensued, dodging moored cruisers and casualties of the gusts. The Race Officer and Team struggled to get a course set and were increasingly resigned to the fleet’s preference to seek the limited shelter being offered by Fort Hoo than head further out into the teeth of the gale.
After another squall topping 44 knots (or far more depending on the teller) the fleet declared their hull and foil inspections complete, unanimously heading for home; Molesworth and Samus demonstrating impressive seamanship in returning to shore unaided with their top mast sections sacrificed to the mud.
With sailing off the table, Wilsonian local Smith led a contingent of thirsty sailors on a pub crawl towards their eventual dinner, where the fleet enjoyed plenty of food and beer, whilst reminiscing about their heroism on surviving the day and looking forward to some racing on Sunday.
True to the forecast, Sunday dawned with a more manageable, if gusty, 5 – 15 knots. Low tide meant a very sociable 10:50 first start and tight on time, the Race Team excelled in getting 4no races run in quick succession.
Race 1 saw regular front runners Kilsby and Vincent take 1st and 2nd respectively, and having tangled through all three laps, it came down to the final gybe for Taylor to snag 3rd from Pelley in 4th, with Simpson just behind the pair finishing 5th.
Race 2 saw Dan x 2 again in top position at the first mark, having taken advantage of a shift favouring the left hand side.
On the second windward the breeze continued to the left and an early tack from the leeward mark onto port set Peake and Taylor up on the lay line for a fast fetch into 1st and 2nd, with much of the fleet over stood and in reduced breeze out to the left.
The two hunted each other dropping back into touch with the fleet until the final beat where the pair split. Peake again opted for the left but with a touch less tide and a spot more pressure the right side became favourable again, enabling Taylor to retain the lead and Oliver, Kilsby and Vincent to move into 2nd, 3rd and 4th, but with Peake managing to hang onto 5th.
Race 3 started in lighter breeze with the left returning to favour. Vincent sailed consistently again to take the bullet whilst Stickland and Peake made the best of the shifts to finish in 2nd and 3rd, with Kilsby and Oliver in close succession.
The sequence started for Race 4, and with a discard on the cards and the tide slacking, the fleet were jostling right to the the line, with Kilsby luffed over seconds before the gun.
In exonerating himself the right hand corner was the only option for clean air, but this was straight into an auspicious shift, and combined with better breeze he was back into the pack to take 3rd.
Meanwhile Pelley had again found his form, taking full advantage of the same shift he locked in an early and lengthy lead, which he maintained to the finish taking 1st, with Poston 2nd.
1st and 2nd, 3rd and 4th, were respectively determined by count back, testimony to a day of tight racing with the overall results: st – Dan Vincent, 2nd – Dan Kilsby, 3rd – Tom Taylor, 4th – Graeme Oliver
A huge thank you must go to all who made this event possible, from the Race Team, everyone in the galley and of course the local sailors and travelling competitors. The Fleet look forward to the next event at Datchet 15 – 16 June 2019.