Pica by a point
The first day of the 2011 UK 18 Foot Skiff National Championship was a windy and wild adventure. Sailing off the beach at Sandbanks, Parkstone Yacht Club and the Watersports Academy teamed up to provide a superb both shore based and on the water race area for the premier event of the UK 18ft Skiff Circuit.
The eight skiff teams assembled on the beach including two new teams competing in their first 18 regatta. 18s are not the usual beach toys to be found on Sandbanks and despite the cool and breezy start to the bank holiday weekend spectator interest was quickly growing on the shore.
A pin-favoured line saw boats racing off to the left hand side of the course. Newcomers KKT Racing, sailing Gill Wet & Wild, were the one boat to split and go right and came back strong, only missing out on the lead after a poor tack at the weather mark. They had been sailing in the bay the week prior to this event and were chomping at the bit to see how close they were to the pace of the top teams. However it was Pica, fresh from great results on the European Grandprix, that took the lead followed by the bristling new boys on the block Team Carsington, with Investec and KKT in hot pursuit as the skiffs charged down the kite leg in the fresh northwesterly.
Up the second beat, Pica found the groove and romped off to an unassailable lead while a tight battle was underway for second between Investec, KKT and Team Carsington. A drop of the mainsheet and windward dunking saw KKT slip out of contention leaving Investec and Carsington to battle for second testing big vs little rig choice. On the line it was Investec who pulled through with the big rig, but only just leaving Carsington in third and KKT in fourth.
A decent result in those condition is an impressive start for Carsington Team who were clearly enjoying their first official 18ft race. When asked what they thought, a grinning Richard Allen shouted, “That was awesome!” before returning to the pressing matter of keeping things upright.
Hyde Sails having gone hard right to the shore up the beat arrived at the first mark with Pica and Investec who opted for the middle. The pressure was on for these team to prove their credentials with an improving fleet. Swapping the lead and pushing hard on this first lap both crews were fully exposed by their choice of the larger number 1 rigs in the building breeze. The flat water delivered by the north westerly wasn’t enough to prevent big rig choices and 20 knots at the top mark caused full pitch poles resulting in a Le Mans-style format as both Investec and Pica raced to get their boats upright. This opened the door for Carsington which had been hot on their heels the whole race. They cruised past the swimmers hoisting their kite and tearing off into the distance never to be caught. A surprise win for the new team Carsington, Pica in second and Hyde Sails pulling though to third.
A good day on the water with fantastic conditions and a great dinner at Parkstone Yacht Club has set the fleet up for a further two days of sailing from Sandbanks in Poole Bay. Please drop by if you are in the area.
Jamie Mears from overnight leaders Pica commented: “This is the first time we have sailed off the beach in Poole. Fantastic venue. Great to see so many new teams here. The rest of the championship will certainly be challenging...and we are looking forward to some more spectacular sailing”.
Racing continues Sunday and Monday off the beach in front of the Watersports Academy in Poole. With racing for the rest of the weekend close to shore, plenty of opportunity to see all the thrills and spills. Stay tuned.
|1||Pica||Jamie Mears||Stewart Mears / Tristan Matt||1||2||DNF||7|
|2||Carsington||Richard Allen||Richard Bland / Peter Shaw||3||1||DNF||8|
|3||Investec||Mason Woodworth||Simon Hamilton / Jon Noonan||2||DNF||DNS||15|
|4||Hyde Sails||Jack Grogan||Mike & Sam||DNF||3||DNF||13|
|5||KKT||Tom Kiddle||Stu Tinner / Matt Kiddle||4||DNF||DNS||17|
|6||Aftica / Severn Sails||Mark Watts||Dave Freemantak / Marc Humphries||5||DNF||DNS||18|
|7||HPF||Steve McLean||Nick & Simon||DNS||DNF||DNS||22|
|7||Rutland Skiff||Tom Hill||Miguel Andrew / Mark Kudlinski||DNS||DNF||DNS||22|