Ullswater Y.C. Regatta.

The 7th/8th August was Ullswater Y.C. Regatta and another chance to sail in the beautiful setting of the Lake District. We left home in Halifax in heavy rain and a blustery wind, but by the time we reached Pooley Bridge and Ullswater came into view the rain had gone, but sadly, also most of the wind.

 

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The regatta precedes U.Y.C. Family Week which usually attracts a large attendance. However, with the clubhouse still undergoing repairs after last years floods it was apparent that the entry was going to be down in numbers this year. Plenty of room in the campsite though.

A good turnout of U.Y.C. members meant a quality asymmetric fleet, with a mix of 49er’s, 29er’s, RS800,500,400, Asy International Canoes, L4000 and of course ISO 645 among others. The light northerly wind frustrated the race officers attempts to set a true windward/leeward course on fixed marks whilst also accommodating three other fleets on two separate courses all from the same start line. Well done that man!

Just as race one got underway the wind shifted, almost turning the first beat into a fetch. We avoided the inevitable chaos at the pin end and rounded the first mark in fourth just ahead of the 49er’s - always a good sign. So the leeward leg was now a reach getting tighter until we had to drop the kite and just made the leeward mark close hauled. Consequently we started the ‘beat’ by popping the kite back out and holding on to it until we neared the line to start the second lap. Very frustrating to see how some boats could sail much higher with their kites than we could, particularly the RS 500. Despite another lap of shifts and holes we maintained a good position in the top half of the fleet on the water and took third place on handicap.

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Race two, after a break for refreshments, was sailed in similar conditions. Once again we approached the windward mark with the leaders only for the wind to fade and shift, seeing to it that we lost many places before rounding. A few more canoes and 29er’s had got past and we spent the race trying to chase them down. As they started the final leg (beat?) to the finish, they elected to sail high to compensate for the inevitable header. When the ‘inevitable header’ turned out to be an ‘inevitable lift’ we reached to the line with our kite up, taking a handful of places, while they struggled to get back downwind in the fickle breeze. Don’t you just love it when that happens! Fifth place in race two meant third overall after the first day. However with the quality in the fleet we were under no illusion that it would be difficult to hold on to that position.

Despite temporary facilities, the club served up an excellent meal on Saturday evening in the marquee. A huge steak, cooked to perfection and dessert all for seven quid.

Waking up on Sunday morning I looked out onto a flat calm, the surface of the water perfectly reflecting the mountains overlooking Ullswater. However, as I ate my breakfast in the morning sunshine the wind filled from the south-west as forecast. Force 3 possibly 4 at times in the main channel. A perfect windward/leeward course was set , about a mile long and the first race got underway at 11am after a half hour postponement to accommodate some late entries. ( Ha, they only come out when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing. Sensible people.)

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The starts at U.Y.C. are always keenly contested and I feel we did quite well in holding our position on the line and getting away well into clear air avoiding the ensuing chaos. In the fresher breeze the 49er’s were flying, hotly pursued by the Asy. Int. Canoes. Our closest racing on the water was with the RS500, 400’s and we had some fantastic downwind duels particularly with the L4000. They had the edge upwind but we managed to sail deeper to regain the advantage by the leeward mark. When they tried to sail over the top of us we were able to sail higher and match their speed, holding them off. It made for excellent racing and satisfying that we always beat them over the line, but it was disappointing not to be able to hold our position in the fleet scoring only 12-10-13 on the day. With two discards from the five race series we did manage to edge into the top half of the fleet with an eighth place overall.

Certainly a very enjoyable weekend and we look forward to returning next year when I’m sure normal service will be resumed with the clubhouse facilities and probably a larger entry. I would recommend the U.Y.C. Regatta to anyone who enjoys competitive sailing and the very best of English scenic countryside. There’s also the opportunity to make a week of it with racing every day or enjoy all that Lakeland has to offer.

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