Photos: Trevor Burrows Photography

Magic Marine ahead

Six races held at the European Skiff Grand Prix on Plymouth Sound

Saturday September 29th 2012, Author: Ben Clothier, Location: United Kingdom

Twelve 18ft Skiffs from the UK, Germany and Denmark have enjoyed six great races in Plymouth Sound, hosted by the Royal Western Yacht Club and the Mount Batten Centre.

Strong performances from Magic Marine (GER33) and Pica see them as regatta leaders with Magic Marine in first place overall on 7 points after 1 discard. Team Pica (GBR92) is catching up and only three points adrift with Original Chia (DEN01) in third.

For the overall European Grand Prix Series title Hyde Sails is looking unbeatable, but for second spot, if positions remain unchanged for this event, Magic Marine and Pica will be tied for second with Euro link fourth and Original Chia fifth.

Pica is also looking good in good shape to defend the UK National Championship and the UK Grand Prix Overall, but it is Hyde Sail and LED battling it out for second place for both titles.

Day 1

There was no chance of tower trapezing today not least because the class banned it years ago after various attempts, but also the shifty westerly with 30° shifts, gusting up to 24 knots in the squalls, kept everyone on their toes. With all boats choosing their big number one rigs it made this first day of racing all about 'power management'.

Race 1 started in 12-14 knots. Gill, with stand in helm Ian Turnbull, Tom Kiddle moving to sheet and Matt Kiddle on bow, were OCS forcing a feisty and faultless pin end bear away followed by a two sail gybe. Eurolink (Thomas Eggersdorfer, Latzi Meissner, Friedrich Renner GER) capsized on the start through an unusual crewing error, but with good speed quickly pulled through to fifth. Pica tacked off on port early closely followed by LED (Nick Pratt, Nick Murray and Steve McLean GBR43). Pica (Stewart Mears, Tristan Hutt and Jamie Mears returning to the helm) tacked back controlling the middle of the course, while LED stayed on for the starboard layline which proved the favourable side from a shift perspective. However with more breeze on the left Magic Marine (Eike Dietrich, Finn Mrugalla, Jan Peckolt GER33) and Pica pulled ahead on the port layline to lead the fleet around the first mark.

On the last downwind, going for the finish line Pica hit a 20 knot gust at the last minute, also heading them, forcing them the wrong side of the gate letting Magic Marine and Black Dog (Jack Bouttell, Adam Minter, Jarrod Simpson, GBR47) through to first and second respectively. Final positions: 1st Magic Marine, 2nd Black Dog, 3rd Pica

Race 2, with the cloud cover increasing the wind began to build to the top end conditions for the big rigs. A squall brought 24 knots and plenty of challenge at the first leeward mark requiring significant commitment to 'threading the needle' at the bottom mark between capsized boats. “Not being afraid is the important thing …” said Soren Clausen, from Original Chia “ …. just keep having fun”. Team Eurolink started to wonder whether would grow skin between their fingers with the amount of swimming this experienced skiff team were doing in Plymouth Sound. “It was like a graveyard at both ends of the course, with even Pica upside down at times,” said Jack Grogan from Hyde Sails.

Meanwhile Gill was finding form and working their way through the fleet on the upwind legs to post their best result on the day in fifth. With Pica having trouble with an extended capsize at the leeward mark, it was Magic Marine that started showing consistency in boat handling and making smart tactical decisions to post their second win. Black Dog's team work was also coming together giving them a second and the experience of the Original Chia (Adam Ovington, Soren and Flemming Clausen), earning a third place

Race 3, the sun came out again with breeze moderating to 12 knots. Hyde Sails (Sam Caslin, Mike Banks and Jack Grogan GBR26) had a good start on the pin end putting them in fifth by the first mark, with better speed and more 'uprightness' they pulled through to third, their best result of the day. Pica put demons of the first two races behind them to post a first with Magic Marine putting in a solid second to take an early lead overall.

Day 2

The breeze was funnelling down the Plymouth Cattewater into the Mount Batten Centre creating some rig choice debate. With an update from PRO Mike Johnson of the Royal Western Yacht Club that the breeze was 9 to 15 knots out on the course, most teams decided to go for big rigs but rattling halyards and sails in the boat park got the better of some teams who ended up rigging the smaller no.2 rig.

Race 4 started in 12-14 knots northwesterly and shifty breeze blowing either side or Drake Island making for some difficult choices between left and right side of the course in Plymouth sound both up and downwind.

A great start by Jarrod Simpson in Black Dog gave them the foundation to build a huge lead on Pica and Magic Marine. On the last beat Black Dog stayed left allowing Magic Marine and Pica to break right to pick up some huge shifts middle and right side of the course closing down the Black Dog’s 400m lead. Pica went round the last windward mark in first place, Black Dog in second and Magic Marine third. Pica unwittingly was on a collision course with TC–English Braid (Richard Bland, Peter Shaw, Richard Allan GBR40) which was coming upwind with right of way. Pica had to make an emergency bear away forcing them to a capsize allowing Black Dog, Magic Marine and Original Chia through before gathering the kite and righting the boat. Magic Marine continued to pick the shifts downwind perfectly. Black Dog slightly overstood the finish forcing a kite drop to get through the finish allowing Magic Marine through to first place by a few seconds. Final positions: 1st Magic Marine, 2nd Black Dog, 3rd Original Chia

Race 5, 14-16 knots northwest. Pica got a perfect pin end start to lead the fleet away in a building breeze. She extended her lead while there was a four way battle for second between Magic Marine, Black Dog, Hyde and Eurolink. With the wind swinging right, the right side of the course started to pay more often but with 30° shift nothing was certain. At the second windward mark Black Dog tacked onto starboard just in front of Magic Marine who called foul and logged a protest. Black Dog pushed on to maintain second. Final finishing positions 1st Pica, 2nd Black Dog, 3rd Magic Marine. The protest was heard and despite the Olympic medal credentials of Jan Peckolt, it was decided there was no incident and the results remained as per finishing positions

Race 6 started in 16-19 knots from the NNW. Pica got another great pin end start with Magic Marine and Gill in the middle of the line. Gill tacked early to head off to the right hand side of the course. However the regatta leaders rounded the first mark with Pica in the lead followed Magic Marine and Black Dog. With the increasing breeze boats were hammering downhill in fantastic conditions. Pica and Magic Marine were separated by a boat length at the leeward mark in first and second respectively. Black Dog capsized allowing Original Chia and TC-English Braid, Pica and Magic Marine then extended. Final finish positions: 1st Pica, 2nd Magic Marine, 3rd Original Chia

Results after six races:

Pos Sail No Name Helm R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Tot
1 GER 33 Magic Marine Peter Norbert 1 1 2 1 -3 2 7
2 GBR 92 Team Pica Jamie Mears 3 -9 1 4 1 1 10
3 GBR 47 TMF Jarrod Simpson 2 2 4 2 2 (13/DNF) 12
4 DEN 1 Original Chia Clausen Flemming -6 3 5 3 5 3 19
5 GBR 26 Hyde Sails Jack Grogan 8 4 3 5 4 (13/DNS) 24
6 GBR 43 Led Steve McLaren 4 7 6 6 6 -8 29
7 GBR 11 Gill Thomas Kindle 7 5 8 -10 8 5 33
8 GER 13 Eurolink Friedl Renner 5 -11 7 8 7 6 33
9 GBR 40 Carsington Richard Allen 9 6 (13/DNF) 7 9 4 35
10 GBR 30 Young & Reckless Tom Hill 10 10 (13/DNS) 9 10 7 46
11 GBR 55 Clapa Dave Jobson 11 8 (13/DNF) 11 11 13/DNF 54
12 GBR 52 Aftica Marc Watts 12 (13/DNS) 13/DNS 12 12 9 58





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