Last weekend saw the SW qualifiers for the BKL, which saw us very excited but also slightly nervous having seen some of the teams that we were pitted against. These teams included some very well respected sailors from our area.
We got to sit out the first few races and watched on intently, learning what we could from the other races and seeing Royal Torbay take a clean sweep of two firsts.
We came out raring to go, and it was close into the windaward mark but an error saw us take a penalty and drop from top two to last, highlighting how close the racing was.
We had a slightly better race for third of the races; we climbed one place and finished fifth. For some reason we were feeling slow in our boat and with zero practice time we were unsure what we could. Still we found pace upwind but struggled downwind for the first couple of races. But then in race 3 it all clicked and we found our downwind pace leading to our zero to hero 6,5,1.
We then sat out the next few races and regrouped figuring out how to improve our results and find that downwind pace. In the meantime the host clubs team Conyers proceeded to put up some good results with a first and a second.
Moving into a new boat for the next few races, we seemed to find pace from the outset and we felt much more comfortable, immediately posting a hard fought race win just pipping the team from RORC. Once again, the races proved close with results still being mixed up through the fleet with Torbay dropping towards the tail end of the fleet.
The final four races of the day saw a different winner in every race. The race officer did an amazing job making the most of the wind to get 14 races away on the first day.
The end of the first day saw us sitting fourth overall with an average of 4 points, not far behind the leaders.
The second day starts with light winds and a building tide, and team RNSA posted their first win of the event. For the first race we get to sit it out, we rested and spoke about what we needed to do for the day ahead with six races to be completed by us and all to play for.
We opened early with some very good results a third and two seconds. Surely, we were climbing the ladder at this point, but we did not know where everyone else had come in the other races. Also punching in some, good results were the team from RUYC who had travelled from far and wide to get to event and posted a race win despite some slightly sore heads from the night before!
Alongside them, the team from Saltash Sailing Club who placed well with a couple of races wins. Showing good pace from the start, and then just covering the fleet they were hard to get past.
We get a break for one race, time for the all important brunch bars and winegums and a lot of rehydration, in the amazing sunny conditions that Plymouth had to offer!
Back into our fourth and final boat of the event, feeling blessed it’s the one of the only boat that’s beaten us so far today and it seems to have been up there for the other races that we’ve not done.
Immediately we find our feet in this boat and everything clicks, again more top end finishes, posting two firsts and a second. However, the other boats around us are the leaders from the night before. A neck and neck finish with RTYC comes down to a final puff of wind just carrying us over ahead of them. Then a good race from RWYC Conyers came down to a final gybe and gave them another race win.
We closed the weekend praying that it was enough to pip the other teams to the Post in what had been a very tight weekend of racing. Fortunately, it had been enough, leaving not very much in the results there was a tie for second place between SSC and RTYC, and then we were delighted to qualify first from the SW. It had been a very tight weekend of racing having seen place changes happening on every leg and on almost every mark, where even the smallest of mistakes could see you tumble through the rankings, and we had definitely suffered from that!
The RS21 proved to be an interesting boat to get to grips with. Showing potential to be very fast, it certainly picked up in the breeze and finding the difference between soaking and planing for VMG became very important very quickly. It’s easy to step into the boat and make it go move quickly, but on the course little adjustments were making huge differences
For a new boat, it has understandable teething problems, and it certainly has room to be worked on. With wonky masts and keels, and keels that you can feel move as you go around the course, mixed in with them feeling not particularly one design and having notable pacing differences between the boats, there is room to be improved on but the boats have some potential.
Having now qualified we are excited to go to the finals at Queen Mary Sailing Club where we know the competition will be much more fierce with the best from all over the country present we really are looking forward to a great event. Having loved the event format and having not really done anything like it before with the exception of some BKA training weekends it provides a whole new mindset to sailing keelboats, and we can’t wait to work towards it as a team.