18ft Skiff Team Pica - Nationals 2011 report

The third leg of the UK 18 foot skiff Grand Prix held at the Watersports Academy in conjunction with Parkstone Yacht Club also formed this years’ National Championships for the class with teams coming from all over the country to test themselves at the fantastic Sandbanks venue in Poole.

It was great for us to see new teams (KKT ex Gill/Wet n Wild, Rutland skiff and Team Carsington ex Pica) at the event with experienced teams on hand to help out if needed. As it was the event started on Saturday with a hard call on weather to run with big rigs or small, the fleet made a split choice with four taking their big No.1 rigs and 3 on the smaller No.2, we took a risk on the wind not building and opted for the No.1 which based on our close racing with Investec (also on the No.1) and our bullet in race 1 seemed like the best choice.

It’s said that best laid plans do sometimes go awry however, and for us to a degree this was the case with several big weather systems moving in piping up the winds to well in excess of 20 knots in Race 2. By now I would guess a few people reading this may know about our windward mark bare away and the picture that resulted, all we can say is we all shouted “hold on” and then everything went dark. Needless to say we did a spectacular pitch pole following Investec who did an equally impressive nose dive and then had a mini race to see who could right their skiff fastest. While we managed to right our boat and finish 2nd we were unable to catch the established race leaders Team Carsington.

Race 3 was held in established 20 knot plus winds, team Hyde held us off to the windward mark until they suffered a broken rudder, so with our mainsail flogging and Hyde’s shout of “Good Luck!” we reportedly boar away on a 27 knot gust with the boat mostly airborne and though we survived the bear away the boat parked and with a loaded rig went over to windward. After this we thought better of the conditions and in the name of self-preservation sailed back to the beach. Team Carsington who looked set to win the third race suffered the loss of their kite under their skiff on the last lap which ended their race but it was great to see the newcomers doing so well on their first event!

Days two and three we held in variable winds from 5 to 18 knots but all boats settled on big rigs; very close racing followed with building spectator numbers on the beach and courses set to optimize their view. We had very close and well fought battle with Investec and Hyde over the Sunday and Monday but we managed to come away from the last two days with straight bullets sealing the Nationals win. Investec sailed well to secure there second place overall from Team Carsington in third and Hyde sails in fourth.

All of team Pica would like to thank Parkstone yacht club and the Watersports academy for holding the event as well as Ben Clothier and all involved for organizing/running and our sponsors Allen Brothers, Pica Floorings, Musto and DRisk.

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