The Exmoor Ale Wimbleball Beastie - 19th March, 2017
Overcast skies and south-westerly winds of 2-4, gusting 5, greeted the sailors as they arrived on Exmoor for the 2017 Beastie. Right from the outset, the rescue teams were kept busy, as gusts coming off the moors caused multiple capsizes and gear breakages. Of the 37 starters, just 23 boats finished the 3-hour pursuit race.
The Challenger Trimaran sailed by Val Milward got underway just a few minutes behind the Lasers, and right from the start, Val was flying. She rapidly caught and passed the slower boats, and was challenging for the lead before she reached halfway. Her Challenger was well suited to the challenging conditions but Val sailed with excellent skill and determination to build up a 15minute lead by the 3hr mark, and even threatened to lap a few tail-enders.
Behind Val the competition was tight. Simon Hawkes in a Phantom 34 pulled through the fleet gaining places on each of the 4 laps to finish in a creditable 2nd place. Peter Cords in the Osprey 1281 was lying in 10th place at the halfway point, but found his form in the second half and was rapidly gaining on the Phantom by the end, finishing 3rd overall.
Peter Barton (Aero7) Ian Horlock (Supernova) and Jeff Vanderboght battled for the remaining places, swapping positions on each lap throughout the race.
As the rocket was launched to mark the end of the race, it was fair to say the Exmoor Beastie had given all the sailors a real work out. Congratulations must go to Wimbleball Sailing Club for putting on another successful event, and thanks also to the galley for keeping us all well fed throughout the day. The final word must go to the race management and safety boat teams who did an outstanding job in keeping everyone safe from the vicious temper of the 2017 Exmoor Beastie!