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Chopping the jellyfish - the first race day of the GBR Nats

After two days of not sailing due to high wind limits, the thoroughbred competitors of the GBR Nationals, or Britnats, as the Aussies call it, where starting to get rather twitchy.  But on day 3, Weymouth finally delivered, albeit with a few jellyfish the size of dustbins floating around, having blown in during the previous few days South Westerly storms.

Racing out in the bay so that David Campbell-James, the event PRO,  could get a long course set in the higher winds. Both Classic and Open fleets sailed on the same course, with the Open fleet off first and sailing 3 laps to the Classic fleets 2.  This proved to be the perfect solution for the fleets, as there were some 51 or so boats entered, but several no shows.  The Open leaders tended to do their races in 35 mins, the Classics in about 45.

All the races got away first time with minimal fuss and only a couple got the dreaded UFD designation for being across the line within the last minute before the go.

The wind in the first race was a pleasant 14-15knots pretty much Westerly, although it started to swing left and right as the race progressed leaving the sailors trying to guess the correct side of the course.  Mischa Heemskerk NED 7, Bruce Mahoney USA 311 and Stevie Brewin AUS 4 was the finish in the Open.  Scott Anderson AUS 31, Micky Todd ESP 7 and Alberto Farnessi SWE 59 in the Classics. No score was recorded for the jellyfish, but it was thought that they took out several competitors rudders.

Race 2 was similar but with the wind sneaking up to 16 with 20 knot gusts. The fleet, slightly depleted by the sea fauna casualties, again set off.  One or two more boats fell over now as the wind got up.  The swinging looked less of a problem now, as the racers slowly switched towards survival mode.  Stevie won that one, with Misha 2ndand Dave Shaw NZL 230 in third, despite coming into the bottom mark rather hot and hard, finding no way around the classics in the way, elected to do an emergency stop by leaping into the air and crashing down in spectacular manner, mere yards from your correspondent who had just rounded on his Classic old DNA.  The Classics were again won by Scotty, with Alberto following and Bruno Biedermann SUI 56 in third.

Then the wind got up more again.  The fleets set off into 20-24knot gusts.  Survival mode for many, life affirming for others.  Being overtaken downwind on a Classic by a foiling ‘A’ Cat doing 27.5 knots is quite eye opening.  The tactics by now were just to stay on the top part of the boat and finish.  Again, Stevie beat Mischa with Dave following up in third.  The Classics had Scotty and Alberto, but with GBR sailor Owen Cox in third.

But again as ever, the best winds were saved for the sail back home.  This was some great sailing, other than the arcade game of dodging the jellyfish part.  But a great way to get the first races of this regatta on the board.  More tomorrow in the final day.