UKWA Christchurch - The Racing Year Kicks Off - Boards Windsurfing

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UKWA Christchurch – The Racing Year Kicks Off

Whilst many of the windsurfing youth were at NWF Junior this weekend some, and of course some adults too, were racing over in Christchurch at the UKWA event. All types of course racing took place and we’ve got the latest from the raceboard fleet, courtesy of Louis Morris, and the formula racing, from youth winner James Battye.

Raceboard – Louis Morris.

Saturday saw winds of about 11-20 knots, with plenty of bumpy swell and chop to go with it. The first race was probably the lightest, with some of the fleet not planing all the way downwind. Mark Kay and Tom Naylor got off to a flying start, and overtook Louis, who timed his acceleration slightly wrong and didn’t have the speed to put it right. However, Louis tacked off and found some good breeze out to sea, pulling back and rounding the windward mark just a few board lengths behind Mark. Good downwind speed from Louis and a slightly ropey mark rounding from Mark saw Louis take the lead, but by the windward mark Mark had regained it, with the left of the course appearing to pay this time. Mark flew off down the reach, leaving Louis to settle for 2nd with Tom in 3rd and Rob Kent not far behind in 4th.

The wind was similar in the second race, but the wind was a little less inconsistent. Louis got the best start and lead for much of the first beat, but once again, Mark and Tom showed some serious upwind pace to just edge in front at the windward mark. Louis’ excellent downwind speed and angle saw him pass Tom, and gain on Mark. Mark then pulled away upwind, although it turned out that he crossed the start line early, disqualifying him from the race. Tom was looking annoyingly comfortable on his old 9.4 Tushingham Lightning, and sailed past Louis upwind, but a poor layline let Louis back past and he lead Tom down the reach. A quick look over his shoulder almost cost Louis the race as his board slammed into a wave and stopped dead, sending Louis over the front. Luckily for him, the wind was rather light down the final reach, and he just managed to pump his way past Tom, winning by just a couple of board lengths.

The wind built considerably by the last race, which seemed to spread the fleet out a little more. The little extra wind worked in Marks favour, and he simply flew off the start and lead all the way to the finish of the extra-long 3 lap race. Whilst Louis usually pulled back a few meters downwind, Mark just kept extending his lead upwind. Similarly, Louis lead Tom the whole way round, with better downwind speed, and although Tom reeled him in a bit every upwind, Louis took 2nd place by sizeable margin.

It looked really windy on Sunday morning, but by the time we were racing, the wind dropped significantly. Conditions were less choppy, but very gusty with a sizable cross-swell. The tide wasn’t really running in the first race, and both sides of the course appeared to pay equally well. The race between Louis and Mark was very close, and there was than a board-length in it down the top reach. Louis was leading on the last downwind, but gybed a little too early and left the door open for Mark, handing him the victory. The wind picked up, and another race was started, but it was abandoned due to a threat of fog.

After a lunch break, visibility was good enough for another race, and this time it really was windy, with gusts over 20 knots sweeping down the course. Tom Naylor lead upwind, with Mark Kay and Andy Gibson not far behind. However, Tom dropped his tack, opening the door for Mark, Andy, and Louis. After an exciting downwind Louis had overtaken Andy, and was within striking distance of Mark. Mark opted to stay close to shore, but Louis tacked back out to sea and took advantage of the stronger tide to take the lead and win the final race.

Final results: Mark deservedly won the event, just one point ahead of Louis. Tom took 3rd place with an excellent and consistent performance, clearly ahead of the rest of the fleet. Rob Kent never seemed to put a foot wrong, but didn’t quite have the speed to make it into the top three.

Annette Kent is pretty renowned for flying around when it’s windy and showing most of the 9.5’s the way round, but she didn’t have it all her way, and an on form Harriet Ellis was the first lady, in 6th overall.

This event also saw newcomers Alice Butts and Thomas Cave enter the youth division along with Emily Kent. They gave an impressive performance on their 6.8 and 7.8 sails in conditions that were certainly not an easy introduction to the class, and in the end, it was Thomas who won the youth prize, in 9th overall.

James Battye – Formula.

I just got back from a great first Cup Series event at Christchurch 2/3rd May. Saturday we woke up to choppy but perfect conditions 15 to 19 knots. Day one, race one, feeling a little nervous but my kit and board were in great condition and I am ready. Quite possibly the worst start line performance I’ve ever seen with only one sailor hitting the line on time and everyone else at least 10 seconds later. Tacked off early on the first beat so I was in clean air and managed to build speed and catch the rest of the sailor up at the up wind buoy. The rest of the race was pretty uneventful and I managed to secure 4th place as Jenna Gibson unfortunately sailed the wrong course.

With the wind remaining constant we went straight into the second of the back to back races. Kate Strange and I decided to start the race on port and it paid off, we got a good start and manage to hit the up wind buoy in just one tack. At the upwind buoy I managed to overtake and stay in front of Kate for the rest of the race but Bob Ingram manage to finish in front of me which landed me in 5th Place.

And to the surprise of us all we had another back to back, I was feeling quite fatigued but managed to finish in 5th place behind Kate Strange. I used my Starboard LWR Formula & Severne Reflex 10m

At the end of day one I was happy with my results and all my new kit.

Day two the wind was gusty and we had big rolling swells, shore dump was a bit vicious but all the formula sailors manage to get to the start line. My start improved and I crossed with the leaders of the squad which I was really pleased about, the sea was a challenge but I really enjoyed it, it was hard work but I still managed to get a 5th place.

Final race of the event was quite eventful, the wind picked up quite a lot and both Kate and I got an OCS but realising this sailed around the pin end so as not to be penalised, unfortunately after this Kate’s outhaul broke and she couldn’t complete the race leaving me to catch up with the fleet by sailing a completely different direction to the rest of the fleet and ending up 30m behind Bob, Jenna and Owen at the upwind buoy but Bob kindly crashed at the beginning of the downwind, one down, Jenna also dropped her gybe near the buoy, thanks, leaving just me and Owen, luckily I managed to point much deeper and keep my speed therefore allowing me to overtake him at the downwind gate. Then Jason Clarke last year’s champion was just in front and graciously had a crash and to add insult to injury his up haul snapped so he had to water start leaving me a clear path past him and as he had to water start it took all his energy and I managed to fight him off, although it was exceptionally close at the finish line but I got into 3rd place… thanks Jason!

Final results: I claimed 1st Youth, 1st National and 4th Overall; brilliant!

This season I would very much like to stay as consistent as this and improve race per race, and hopefully finish overall in the top 5, I would be really happy with this.

My support from Starboard Severne and Juice Boardsports has been brilliant, Sam Ross got my new sails to me via Juice early in the year so I’ve had plenty of time to tune them up and train on them in preparation for the events which has been a massive help. Juice are a great support team with everything from helping out with kit to repairs to moral support and encouragement, couldn’t ask for better.

I’d like to say a huge thanks to both Starboard Severne and Juice for everything and congrats to Chris Bond for the first win of the series. Looking forward to the next event at Bridlington 6/7th June. James GBR-939.

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