Folkstone cup 2 and North sea cup report

2 June 2010

Raceboard report by Paul Robinson

Photos by Andy Watkinson: Folkestone photos

As always, it is a challenging journey to reach the race site on a Bank Holiday Friday and it was no exception this time. Numerous delays due to heavy traffic and accidents and the occasional loss of trailer tyres and mudguards made the going interesting but thankfully no other damage or loss for the gathered long board racers (Mike Blackgrove praised the efforts of Green Flag to get him going quickly and even found a pair of new mudguards from a store nearby !). Those who had arrived at the race site early had the opportunity of parking in the most scenic positions overlooking the sea and shelving shingle beach.

Some had taken advantage of the sunny conditions to rig and experience the sea conditions early. Mark Kay with shiny new camper van had resisted the continuation of the van bonding, to ride the swell with the tall Demon prototype and knew that with the strong tide and confused sea state that this was going to be a truly challenging event. By low tide the sea had settled somewhat and the short boards were out. Race day dawned somewhat grey and not the warmest but with plenty of cross shore wind gusting 15 to 20 knots. The first race was a non standard upwind downwind with a start only some 300 m off the beach.

The race board fleet soon found the conditions not particular to their liking  and some decided to re-evaluate  the race from the shore where they considered whether they suffered from thalassophobia. However the front of the fleet were in total command and right from the start  Mark Kay tacked off, with tide taking him to the windward mark in front of the chasing pack to take a strong lead and race 1 bullet for an advantage that he was not to relinquish all weekend despite the very best efforts of John , Chris and Rob.  John Ellis gave it his best shot but ran out of energy before the finish but made a great beach landing in the ever increasing shore dump.

A combination of wind shifts, and drifting marks becoming  stuck fast in a underwater rock bed made this a very tough and frustrating day for the race crew who despite their very best efforts were unable to relay the course and worked until late at night to recover the marks ready for the next day. The non racing raceboard sailors were invaluable in assiting other fleets to escape the shore break without kit damage or injury - many many thanks guys. Those front sailors returning from a nearby bay where they had been waiting, suffered shore dump damage with Rob catapulting through his tushingham race sail meaning that he would be down to a 9.4 lighting the following day.

Following a great display of Hythe Sailing club hospitality for the racers and visitors from across the Channel Saturday night,  Sunday dawned with warmer conditions and greater fleet determination. Wisely the race Officer took the fleet much further out for the day,  about a mile, to avoid the rock bed and this ensured greater wind consistency and less tide. However despite the encouraging wind readings of up to 17 knots as the fleet left the shore, these  were not realised on the course and those who went out with smaller sails than 9.5 were frustrated in the inability to punch through the confused water and some only  just managed to get back and out with the right sail to get the start line, albeit late. 

Jon White was sailing really well and pushing Mark Kay at the front whilst Rob was frustrated at the underpowered 9.4 lighting and Richard Homewood coming back after a long lay off was sailing fantastically and giving Chris Gibson a real challenge. The wind dropped for race 3 of the day and with the tide at full flood it was a tough upwind beat and Mark Page making his debut race for the event sailed well to gain a very creditable 6th.  The small course and the need for multiple laps did leave some confused and a short cut to the finish line left Andy Mexome, comfortably in the lead at the time, the loss of a well deserved bullet in race 4 of the day. Whilst some retired to the beer tent in the sunshine to watch the stalwarts battle for the last race of the day and wish some debutants the chance to get their kit wet, in the event the last race was a walkover for Rob.

Chris Gibson managed to severely hole his phantom coming ashore and the evening was spent gathering the last rays of the sun to suck out the moisture and use up large quantities of the famous Dr Ding  to make a creditable repair. Monday was a windy affair in the morning and with the need for a early finish to extract the rescue boats from the water only 2 races were held for race board . Rob back on his well taped Tushingham race sail and Jon White had great ding dong battle but could not touch the flying Mark Kay who convincingly won the overall title. There was a worrying level of back injuries for the fleet and hopefully these will all be sorted ready for the next event at Rutland where we expect a huge race board  turnout in the flatter conditions  - see you there