The James Ripley Blog - Cowes Classics Week, GP14 Worlds & B14 Nationals

A busy few weeks started at the Royal London Yacht Club for Cowes Classics Week. I was working in a range of positions during the event including on finish boats ‘Carisma’ and ‘Chinook’ and committee boat ‘Cowes United’. I was working on the day boat course helping run racing for Etchells, Dragons, Swallows and Flying Fifteens. We had a week of light winds with many postponements and a few days of no racing. The boats sailed a mixture of inner / outer loop trapezoid courses and round-the-can races.

From Cowes, I drove straight to Mount’s Bay Sailing Club for the GP14 World Championships where I was working with Sailing Southwest administering their TracAce GPS tracking system. This was a big task for almost 120 boats but with the next stage of software development, it will soon be much simpler for operators and will be ready for class associations and clubs to take on themselves – stayed tuned for updates! Having had light winds for weeks on end, the first day for the GP14s was blown off! However it calmed down later in the week to allow plenty of racing which the spectators loved watching live on TracAce, with the sailors enjoying being able to review their performance using the playback feature.

I then had one day off to prepare for the start of the B14 National Championships at Paignton Sailing Club. I had top Race Officer Ian Bullock mentoring me for the first two days, and then I would take over fully on Saturday and Sunday to run my first Nationals alone. Day one got off to a good start with four races run back-to-back in just over three hours with only one general recall and very minimal waiting around. The breeze was around 5-12 knots from the east. The time between the last boat finishing and the orange flag for the next race was typically less than one minute! Day two was a lot lighter, and after a two hour delay to allow the sea breeze to fill in, we started one race, only to have to abandon it later on. Day 3 was a similar pattern but we just managed to complete a single race before the wind died completely. The final day saw slightly more wind with 5-8 knots from the east and small waves. Again, we completed four races in just over three hours with only one general recall. Such a slick operation would not have been possible without a fantastic team around me. The windward mark was moved every race during the final day but was in place before the boats had even completed the previous race! Similarly, the start line and gate required constant tweaking and the crew on the committee boat had sometimes less than a minute to go from finishing positions to starting positions ready for the next race! A special thanks also has to go to Arthur, the beach master, who spent all four days tallying sailors on and off, helping the competitor’s launch and recover and dragging 25 trolleys up and down the beach. As ever, the food and drink at Paignton was superb and the B14 sailors were very fair on the race course, and enjoyed themselves thoroughly in the bar afterwards!

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