2021 July Latest News

IMPORTANT NEWS

Only 2 days to go to book your entry to this years' National Championship at Stone SC 2nd to 6th August for £100, which includes all racing , entertainment and free camping. What a bargain! Make your registration and pay the entry fee etc on the StoneSC web site at www.stonsc.org.uk/events. 

The Club is fully prepared and waiting for you to arrive and enjoy the event, good weather and friendly companionship of fellow competitors. We are hoping for at least seven Unicorn to attend but why not make it more. It is the best opportunity you have have to talk to the top helms in your Class and learn how to maximise the performance of your boat. The Blackwater estuary is a great venue with SAFE tidal water sailing at any state of the tide and easy launching from the wide beach. 

Pease make every effort to try and attend to keep the active visibility of the Class in the UK sailing magazines.

Dan Jarman the current Unicorn champion and Gary Piper have been actively advertising the Class on the South coast with good performances in the Stokes Bay Open Catamaran weekend and the long distance race at Solent Forts Race. Below is a short writeup of their experience.

 Stokes Bay Cat Open

A great turnout with around fifty catamarans gathered for Stokes Bay’s annual Catamaran Open held at the end of May. Despite a storm the day before the winds abated just in time for the fleets to head out to the start line in about 8 knots of wind on the Saturday morning. Three Unicorns joined the 19 strong fast handicap division which included Formula 18, Foiling A Class and the Nacra 15 youth squad.

Marginal trapeze conditions prevailed for Race 1 with the Unicorns fairing well to windward against the other classes. The downwind legs were a game of patience by playing every wave to sail deep against the spinnaker boats which took a slightly higher and faster track. The Nacra 15s proved to be a good bench mark with their slightly quicker handicap rating, so the trick was if the Unicorns could keep up, or even keep in front of the 15s, you knew you were doing Ok. Tactics played a big part too. It was either keep inshore punching less tide but less wind, or vice versa if you went out to sea. Race 1 completed without too many dramas and reasonable results for Dan, Gary and Iain.

The wind suddenly dropped away for race 2, therefore remarkable that the Unicorns had their best results of the day against the more powerful spinnaker boats, with Dan notching up a 2nd place.

Lining up for the start of race 3 it looked very much the drifter again. The start signal sounded and within just a few seconds the wind kicked in to a force 5 and it was flat-out wiring up the first beat. Arriving at the windward mark the breeze was gusting a force 6 and boats were starting to pitch-pole on the downwind leg, with a few wipe-outs to keep the rescue boats busy. Unfortunately Gary picked up an injury and peeled off early, leaving Dan and Iain to carve around the course at full pelt.

 

The wind continued to build overnight and by Sunday morning the race committee had no option but to call off the racing due to an on-shore force 7. With only Saturday’s results to count, Formula 18s took the first three places, top position going to Will Sunnocks who won the regatta. The highest placed Unicorn was Dan taking 4th overall.

Solent Forts Race - 19th 20th June

Now there was a big itch that needed a scratch - I enquired about the Solent Forts Race some months ago. An event now in its ninth year as part of the Allen Sponsored Endurance Series and run by Hayling Ferry Sailing Club, a small and friendly club nestled among the sand dunes on the south western corner of the island.

Early access to the race instructions via their website reveals a somewhat challenging race format which seems to cover all angles of sailing, rather just straight upwind-downwind. Basically the start line is positioned close to the mouth of Langstone harbour with most of the turning marks being anywhere between 3 and 6 miles out in a star formation. These include each of the Solent Forts, Chichester Bar, Langstone Winner, Nab Tower, and  Bembridge IALA. For the course configuration you are given a sequence of marks where you race out to each one but return back to the line at the harbour entrance every time. This keeps a running safety check on boats as they sail back through the line. Other safety requirements consist of each boat having to carry a small hand flare, a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch, a tow rope and the race committee also issue a small GPS tracker unit for each competitor.

I arrived at the club early on the Saturday morning, closely followed by Gary and Tanya who found their free camper van spot to their liking. There were some familiar faces around the boat park as many of them were at Stokes Bay a few weeks earlier. However, some unfamiliar looking craft such as Will Sunnocks’s foiling Vampire and a French Diam trimaran which seemed to dwarf all the other boats. In all, a reasonable turn out of around 23 boats entered the event.

Saturday’s outing was a 1500 pm start practice race in about 8-11 knots of breeze. Enough to pop a hull out now and then, or jump out on the wire. Just a short version of what was to come later; out to Hayling East Winner mark, Spit Sand Fort, No Man’s Land Fort, Horse Sands Fort, back to the line for a late afternoon finish. As the evening drew on, the club provided a superb barbecue together with some live outdoor music from the excellent Trevor John Band, albeit dodging a few rain showers.

Sunday morning was a little grey to start with and not a great deal of wind so the committee decided to reduce the course length slightly by leaving out Nab Tower and Bembridge. The idea was to gauge the racing time at about 5 hours. Understandably there was a handicap cut of point which left Gary and myself in the blue fleet, with the faster asymmetric classes in the orange fleet having an additional leg to complete.

Everyone got off to a keen start making good use of the ebbing tide out of Langstone and a reasonable amount of breeze. Chichester Bar was the first mark where Gary overtook me on the close fetch. Around the Bar and the opposite happened on the broad reach back to the line. The wind decided to evade us on the next leg to Spit Sand Fort as we crept along Southsea seafront. On the way back from the Fort the sun eventually came out. Now a good recipe for a sea breeze which duly obliged as we came back through the line and started to power onto the 3 mile beat to East Winner. Gary and I were having a good race with only a couple of hundred metres separating us. This gap was shrinking on the run back to the line as the breeze was building from the south.

The final leg of the race was a tight reach out to No Man’s Land Fort and back. By this time the sun was out and the wind was peaking at about 14 knots for some flat out trapezing and a bit of spray over the top.

I eventually crossed the finish line in about 4 hours 45 mins, with Gary following just a couple of minutes later. But first place in the blue fleet wasn’t to be, as a determined RS400 came in 47 minutes later to claim victory on handicap (yes, the event is now open to fast monohulls too). First place in the orange fleet went to Kevin Dutch and David Banner sailing a Formula 20 Carbon.

Later, out of curiosity, I measured our course on google earth which calculated around 30 miles as the crow flies. The orange fleet with the additional leg was around 36 miles.

With more wind, no doubt we would have been set the full length course which at a guess, must approaching a similar par to the Round Texel Race.

To sum up, it was great to sail in this type of endurance race and I would recommend it to anyone who is up for a challenge.  Next year perhaps? Watch this space.

Dan J   Unicorn GBR 1088

 

 

Sent from my iPad

 

 

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