The British Keelboat Academy kicks off the season with some good results!

The British Keelboat Academy kicks off the season with some good results!

Thursday April 12 2012 Author: British Keelboat Academy Location: United Kingdom

Light conditions as well as strong tides forecast for the RORC Easter Challenge really did make it a challenge for all the competitors.

The event is seen as a practice event to give the competitors a chance to test out their boat setup, tunning, boat handling and crew work. With practice starts on Friday and on water coaches, it was an ideal time to bring everything together ahead of the 2012 racing season.

The BKA were out in full force this weekend as all the teams were racing. 3 J80’s supplied by the UKSA with on water coach Phillip Johnston. David Aisher’s J109 ‘Yeoman of Wight’ was out with Luke McCarthy and the Kolga Farr 45 team were joined by world legend Steve Hayles as navigator.

Farr 45 Kolga IRC Class 1 
by James French

We got out early on Friday for some extra training and integrate Steve into the team. The wind was light but we put a few laps in and got up to pace. Two light airs days on Friday and Saturday, meant the premium was on good starts and trying to find the best of what little wind was around. This was made all the more difficult with strong tides and, with the race course set in shallow water, some of the legs became a bit of an obstacle course avoiding the shallowest areas, which we managed to do better than several other boats!

The forecast for Sunday was slightly better and with a plan to get three races in a good day was needed to salvage our series. After an indifferent first race we still managed to finish third on IRC, which was followed by a much improved start and a further third place. By the final race it was all to play for with Alice to be top Farr 45 for the regatta, but we chose the wrong tactical option and Alice beat us on the water.  We had a good finish to the race but it wasn't enough to catch Alice.

We finished 4th over the weekend just two points behind Alice the best of the 45's in 3rd. With Steve's input our performances improved throughout the weekend and we met our goal of being competitive with the other 45's and 4th in a tough fleet of IRC optimised boats is a fair result.

J109 Yeoman of Wight IRC class 3
by Lizzy Foreman

The crew of Yeoman of Wight competed in IRC Class 3 of the RORC Easter Challenge, based out of Cowes, Isle of Wight. With 13 boats in the fleet, the pressure was on to make good use of a hard winter’s training.

With everybody staying at the UKSA, it meant an early start on Friday morning in order to beat the breakfast queue! Also we were keen to get out on the water in time for the two practice starts, and to get into the groove of the light airs which were to dominate the weekend. Despite being early for the start and having to return to re-cross, we ended up winning the race by a large distance, which gave us a real boost as we had not raced since our first event in October.

A key reason for our success in this race, and others over the weekend, was that our manoeuvres were really slick after having spent a good amount of time practicing them out in the cold, wet weather. This allowed us to be very heads up and aware of what was going on out of the boat, resulting in better tactical calls and improved results.

Going in to the last day of racing, we were in a solid second place, with not many points between us and the fleet leader, a MAT 1010 named M.A.T.ilda. With three races that day, we did well, narrowly missing out on first place by a measly one point. If there was one major lesson to be learnt from the regatta, it is that every second really does count; one poor hoist, slow tack or over-trimmed sail really can mean the difference between first and second. Having made some big improvements to our light airs sailing, taking a podium finish(top of the seven 109s), we are very much looking forward to the rest of the season; buoyed on to do the best we can in order to qualify as part of the British Commodores Cup team.

UKSA J80 3 J80 Class
By Jack Whiting

After two fantastic starts on Day One, J80 3 finished mid-fleet in the results tables after a few technical issues involving hoists and drops. "We had some great racing today, and it provided a platform for us to work on," said Will Semken.

In Hollywood style, it came down to Day Three with all to play for. In the first race, J80 3 clawed their way back up to mid fleet to a respectable 5th after a challenging race. Tactician Jack Whiting said "It was a mentally tough race. After being behind from the start, we fought hard to claw our way back up. It shows you what we can do when we are under pressure and how well we can do." At one point, the crew were holding second place and fighting for first when an unexpected knot during a hoist cost the team several places.

Overall, the team finished 6th in their first regatta, and are eager to learn from their mistakes to succeed at the Warsash Spring Championships. Bowman Callum McCullough sums up the weekend as "It was a great learning weekend, and we really do appreciate the input the race organisers put in for us to get racing despite the shifty sailing conditions."

UKSA J80 2 J80 Class
by Serena de Nahlik

With all four of us arriving at UKSA on Thursday afternoon/ evening, Alice having just returned victorious from the BUSA yachting nationals, we spent the evening preparing the J80 for the weekend; checking settings, changing sails and ensuring that all systems were running smoothly. We also took a considerable amount of time looking at the weather, tides and hence strategy for Friday, for which racing was scheduled at 1300.

We spent a good part of Friday morning after breakfast having a whole squad briefing with Phil, reviewing our strategy, setting goals and going through the sailing instructions, before launching early in order to get to our sailing area and have some pre-start training.

Our event goals were to beat the other BKA J80s, not having any idea about the standard of our competitors, to be consistent, to stay out of the protest room but also to make sure we kept learning throughout the event; goals that we nearly achieved on the first day of the event, finishing the day with a fourth and an eighth place, the fourth being thanks to our priority setting in the race, when we decided that sailing in the breeze was more critical than worrying about the tide.

After waking up at 0630 on Saturday, with the first race being scheduled for 1000, we had another morning briefing for yet another light wind day. We added better starts to our goals, alongside keeping our heads out of the boat.

Unfortunately there was so little wind that we only managed one race, with the breeze dying almost immediately after the start, but finished 5th, resulting in our being 1st BKA boat overnight in 6th overall, and having had one of the best starts of the day.

With another early start on Sunday, the race committee was aiming to fit in three races due to a stronger forecast. Initially there was little wind, but it steadily increased throughout the day keeping heads out of the boat was critical, to see the breeze coming down the course.

Although Sunday was our least successful day in terms of results, it was the day on which we probably learned the most, and agreed that we had found new things on which to work for our next regatta, the Warsash spring championships in two weeks time.

UKSA J80 1 J80 Class
By David Harsent

With the first races on Friday we manoeuvre ourselves to the start line and got two good starts for the races that day, heading up to the top mark in 2nd and 3rd in the respective races. With a couple of error in those races, indecisions and poor positioning, we found ourselves back and finishing in 8th and 7th. This was obviously and massive blow for the team who had started off so well; coming into the docks that evening we had to review and reassess where we went wrong; hoping to build from it for the following couple of days.

The next day the weather forecast was expected to be light and it proved to be true. We only managed one race on Saturday due to the wind dropping off. In that race we got another good start and managed to maintain that all the way round till the bottom mark where the wind dropped off. We anchored to try and hold our position and then wait of the wind to fill in. As the wind filled in we managed to get ourselves going and make the line, just getting piped for third and finished with a respectable 4th. After two hours of waiting the race committee decided to cancel the remaining races due to lack of wind.

The final day’s racing promising to be better than the day before, with three races planed. Having learnt lessons from the previous two days we were confident going into the last day. We got three good starts for each of the races, which put us in good positions coming off the line. In the first race we raced well but backed the wrong side of the course which didn’t prove to be quicker and ended up finishing 6th. The second and third races were much better and we were able to control the fleet a lot better and protect our position. We worked as a team a lot better, tactically made better decision and as a result was reward with two 3rds.

The whole weekend was very good; we developed as a team and improve massively ending the weekend on a high. We missed out on our top half goal by two points having not got as good results on the Friday, but we were able to learn a lot from it and we managed to be first BKA boat.

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