After a busy winter of training, the first racing event of the season saw 8 Spitfires racing at Datchet cat open. For some of the younger sailors, this was their first real racing event on a fast cat, having moved to the class from Topper, Tera and 29er.
In Race One, Bobbie Hewitt & Freddie Simes took an early lead, using their 29er experience to blast downwind keeping in the bands of pressure, taking the race win. It was a close battle for second place, with Ben Harris & AJ Luxton managing to get ahead of James Stacey & Cat Elson. Flynn Luxton and Charlie Hamel were going well until they suffered a rigging failure- It was already proving to be just the kind of day to test sailors and boats to the limits, exposing all weak points!
As the second race began, the wind had built (gusting 26 knots), and again it was Team Hewitt/Simes who took full advantage of the conditions and took their second race win. Teams Harris/Luxton and Stacey/Elson again battled for second, until James wiped out close to the downwind gate and in the process, head-butted his daggerboard, the board coming off worst. Ben & AJ managed to avoid him, but later also capsized and had to make a quick pit stop at the slippery slipway with a bent boom. This allowed Turner James & Molly Desorgher to take a well-earned second place.
Race 3 began and the wind had dropped to around Force 5, with Team Harris/Luxton racing closely with Team Hewitt/Simes, but damage to the traveller forced them to retire, allowing Ben & AJ to take the win, closely followed by Caleb Cooper & Tristan Payne. The fourth race saw a close battle for first between Caleb & Tristan and Ben & AJ, however Team Harris/Luxton managed to pass Team Cooper/Payne downwind at the end of the race to take first place.
Sunday morning welcomed the sailors with fierce gusts ripping across the lake. Some of the younger and lighter teams made the decision to stay ashore, however 4 Spitfires launched into the breezy conditions. The first race saw Bobbie & Freddie capsize on the first downwind leg, allowing Caleb & Tristan to take an impressive win, with Flynn Luxton & Charlie Hamel in second.
The last race saw base wind well above 20 knots, with 30+ knot gusts across the course. Team Cooper/Payne & Team Hewitt/Simes remained on the water as the wild conditions pushed the sailors and boats to the limits, demonstrated by even the top F18s suffering impressive wipeouts and one breaking a mast. A synchronised pitch pole close to the finish from Caleb & Tristan and Bobbie & Freddie resulted in Caleb & Tristan drifting over the line just ahead of Bobbie & Freddie. The PRO sent the fleet home as the wind built further.
In the Spitfire fleet, Caleb Cooper & Tristan Payne took first place, with Bobby Hewitt & Freddie Simes in Second, tying on points but beating Ben Harris & AJ Luxton on countback. As always, it was a great event, with many thanks to Race Officer Barry Peters and Datchet Water Sailing Club for running such a great event.
The next event for the Spitfires is training at Hayling Island Sailing Club, followed by the RYA Youth National Championships. This season, Youth cat sailors are benefiting from generous sponsorship from both Forward WIP and Harken.
Results coming soon.