North Devon Yacht Club, based at Instow, hosted the UKIDA Dart18 Grand Prix number 5 and South West Area Championships. The event was part of a series of races that take place at various UK sailing centres throughout the UK.
The sailing was a great success and enjoyed by all of the sailors. 20 catamarans took part in the competition with 7 local boats and 13 visitors. Congratulations go to the winning team Fraser Manning and Erica Knapp of North Devon Yacht Club.
An informal long distance race was held on the Friday for sailors who wanted to travel down to Instow and miss the weekend traffic. Despite the inclement, drizzly conditions and light force 2 winds three catamarans ventured out. Congratulations go to Duncan Manning and Kerra Pearce who were first across the finishing line.
The majority of the visiting sailors arrived late Friday afternoon, pitching tents or selecting prime spots for their camper vans in the boat park before retiring to the club house bar. Saturday dawned to a bright and beautiful day. After a comprehensive full English breakfast the sailors rigged their boats and tuned the sails for the imminent racing. Fortunately the sun decided to come out to play and the wind strength increased from the previous day to be variable north westerly force 2 to 4 and occasionally gusting up to force 5.
The first race of the Grand Prix commenced at 11 am and was the standard format of triangle/sausage/triangle. A relatively calm sea state resulted in a very pleasant race won by Fraser and Erica. In order to provide some variety, race two was a long distance course, taking competitors out towards the Bideford Bar and returning into the entrance to the River Taw. The race was delayed by a general recall because some sailors were over the line before the start gun sounded. Race two was won by Matt and Jakob Exon of the Royal Yorkshire Yacht Club.
An evening of socialising and dancing to ‘On the Rocks’ allowed competitors to let their hair down, chat about the day’s sailing and enjoy the yacht club facilities. A sumptuous spread was provided to satisfy the hungry sailor’s appetites.
Sunday’s weather proved a complete contrast to the previous day. Torrential rain and a howling wind persisted throughout the racing. The wind varied as each of the three races progressed and provided challenging conditions. The third race started with a steady south easterly, force 5 to 6. By the end of the race the wind direction had veered by almost 180 degrees to a westerly force 4. This resulted in the course being relayed before the start of the fourth race. The wind increased to a steady force 6 and wind against tide increased the wave height. The ferocious wind was too strong for many of the sailors, who gracefully retired to the shelter of the club house. Seven Dart18s started the 5th race with one casualty during the sailing. The final race was won by Dan and Amy Teubert from Restronguet Sailing Club based in Cornwall.
The racing was expertly managed by Gordon Smith and his team of volunteers who braved the elements to provide a very enjoyable and exhilarating weekend of sailing. Rescue boat cover was provided by John Barnett and his rescue boat team.