Just a week away from the 4000 Euro Cup in Quiberon on the Carnac peninsula, the 4000 class met for a weekend of sailing at Weston Sailing Club.
Weston is notorious for being a shifty venue, but with the potential of some champaign sailing conditions it was no wonder many made the trip south.
Either it was the sea breeze/ land breeze fighting but it was clear that shifts with huge holes were apparent on the race track - so we experienced wind of 20knots to 8 knots on the first day of racing.
With a slight upwind speed advantage Steve and Sarah Cockerill played the shifts to the first mark with John and Fran close behind. J&F were constantly pushing S&S with some super fast downwind sailing, perhaps J&F were always lucky hitting the best gusts and angles downwind. There were definitely some snakes and ladders available to make it exciting and nail biting to the end.
N&J finished a constant 3rd, pulling through Alex & David.Race 2Steve and Sarah reducing the rig tension thinking that the breeze was finally in found themselves suffering upwind for height in the big holes that appeared as the start gun went, S&S tacked early to play the shift on the right and led at the first mark. J&F passed on Run - but then got their kite in a mess up in the drop to let S&S back through. Tim & Harry Litt nearly took second from with some cleaver shift work but ti was J&F who took second at the finish.
S&S rig tension back on again at start time, Again Alex and David were high and fast off the start line holding Steve and Sarah off from tacking. Meanwhile Tim & Harry Litt won the port biased pin from John and Fran - but being held out by them from taking advantage of the port shift - they continued to make it hard for themselves. Neil and Joe, however, were late on the start line - enabling them to take advantage of the left shift - to lead at the first mark - marginally from S&S. Down the run S&S took an early gybe and played the Left with more wind to take the lead. N&J found themselves in less wind and lifted on the right hand side eventually giving up second to J&F and 3rd to Alex and David.
S&S took an early lead. J&F took an early shower after taking a dip on a gybe. S&S then joined them with a swim of their own whilst hoisting, dropping them to 3rd behind T&H and Nick and Joe. S&S took N&J on the approach to the leeward mark at the end of lap 2 and then took T&H upwind as they was suffering from lack of vang tension due to an early break in his kicker primary, but it was not over - as down the next run T&H took a lower course from the spreader mark to put S&S under pressure but they finally found a hole which enabled S&S to gybe ahead. On dropping the kite the downhaul got in a knot which needed sorting whilst sailing upwind with all three sails. However T&H had issues of their own, as the last gust had made them miss the gate mark which caused them to have to gybe round, tack and gybe again to take the right hand gate. S&S held them off at the finish - although the knot did test them severely.
Newcomers - Neil Davies and Sarah Edwards had launched their new purchase only to find that their main halyard broke on the first beat. They spent the afternoon kicking their heels desperate to join in the exciting racing.
Sunday dawned, and thankfully the race to started late waiting for high water, which allowed the sea breeze time to build. The conditions could not be as nice as Saturday - or could they?
The sea breeze was perhaps more stable than Saturday - up to perhaps 20 knots and sparkling sea conditions.
Pin biased start line with the promise of more wind on the left or right hand side. Tim and Harry won the pin and was the first to the new left shifted breeze, then tacked early to cross the fleet. S&S were next to cross the rest once they had sailed a little deeper into the left new pressure and crossed ahead of J&F. However J&F choose to dig even deeper into the shift. First mark positions were directly proportional to those who dug deeper into this new pressure, J&F, S&S and T&Ht. S&S took a slightly lower course as the breeze was building from behind which put J&F under pressure as they tried to cross on port. S&S gybed to take their wind and and rolled them into the leeward mark. A few more smart shifts from T&H and they were now hunting S&S with their new Rooster mainsail giving them some great pace to windward.
Downwind they found a nice hole to take them back into the hungry pack - leaving S&S to take a clear win from J&F. Putting their first day of disasters aside from Saturday Neil Davies and Sarah Edwards had a storming race to take 3rd from Neil and Jo. Big smiles were present - and not just the result - but because the 4K is just so pleasing when you ‘send it’ upwind and downwind in a big breeze.
Had their pace been beginners luck? No - as they took the pin at the start of the final race, they faced away waiting for the big left shift to take the lead at mark 1. S&S were pinched off at the starboard end and tried to play the shifts on the right - but were able to round second at the first mark. S&S noted that Neil and Sarah were now on lift downwind - so S&S gybed set to take the new breeze from the left with some big pressure to take a commanding lead at the leeward mark. T&H pulled back to take second from J&F who’s last race 3rd was consistent enough to take second at the event
Many of the fleet were using this last event as a new tune up event for the Euro Cup Starting just over a week away in Quiberon on the Carnac Peninsula.
Tim and Harry Litt was happy with his new mainsail and speed upwind, although he had some small boat failures to be sorted.
Neil and Sarah were happy - a 3rd in Race 5 and leading at the top mark in race 6 - plus the amazing champaign conditions gave them lots of positive’s to take away and work on in time for the 4000 Nationals at Mumbles.
Steve and Sarah were happy that they were finally finding the gears to make their new ‘expensive’ 4000 sail as fast as the old one. (expensive was £625)
Alex Cramp and his new crew David Haughton were occasionally very very fast - they put together a series counting only 3rd’s and 4th’s - I wonder what training might produce?
Neil and Jo were also consistent in their placings taking 3rd overall. Tm and Harry Litt had sadly sailed through the start finish line on the downwind leg, which unbeknown to them was a disqualification offence. This was an interesting SI - which enabled the RO to start the fleets separately and got the races turned around sharply. It did perhaps limit the tactics somewhat.