British Keelboat League qualifier 3 Jun 2017
Five teams, four boats, 25 races (yes, 25) over the weekend was the format that kept 25 sailors and Team Phoebe working hard as a new event came to the Royal Corinthian.
The British Keelboat League (BKL) qualifier met, and surpassed, all expectations in a close contest that saw Royal Thames YC victorious and clear of a very close battle for second, where Queen Mary SC beat the home team by just 3 points.
The weather gods provided perfect conditions for beats over Coleward bank in 707s kindly loaned by club members. North London Sailing Assoc sat out the first race on the mothership, Seabird and watched in awe as the teams jostled for position in the foul tide start to maximise the advantage over the short 5 minute beats. Marconi SC secured race 1 from RCYC and RTYC hinting that maybe dinghy skills would have the upper hand. Indeed they secured a run of strong results whilst NLSA and QMSC both struggled to come to terms with the boats and the format. However, perhaps it would be local knowledge that would make the difference as the home team of skipper Micky Wright, helm Nigel Grogan and Alex Porteous and Nic Tolhurst crewing won Races 2&3.
By race 6, all teams had switched boats once and a new pattern was emerging as RTYC started to dominate the results by starting better and sailing quicker and higher than the rest, leaving RCYC and QMSC battling together.
The frequent and rapid starts combined with the evenness of the boats encouraged closer and closer starts until the OCSs started to appear. The spinnaker hoists became quicker and smoother and the gaps between boats smaller bringing the umpires into play more frequently. After the 14 races of day one only 4 points separated the top 4 boats and the teams retired to massage aching limbs and rehyderate….the discussion across and between teams filled the club house.
The bar talk clearly made a difference as all 4 boats hit the start line perfectly on day 2. QMSC had done some homework and started to score high and recover ground as RTYC and RCYC switched to match racing each other. NLSA rolled in with their first third place to a large cheer from competitors, umpires and spectators alike.
The final positions unfolded from Race 20 onwards as RCYC and then QMSC pushed too hard and secured penalties and thereby last places and RTYC with an unassailable lead with 2 races to spare.
Final Scores were RTYC-65, QMSC-59, RCYC-56, MSC-46 ,NLSA-24 but the biggest winners were possibly the RYA and the club. A great event which will surely be repeated annually with much greater participation. A big thanks to all those who supported it in word or deed or loan.