The first Spitfire Class Association Traveller Event was the Datchet Fast Cat Open. Spitfires formed part of the handicap class leaving the F18s to battle it out on their own course. Forecast for Saturday was to be fairly windy and to drop off on Sunday. Four races were scheduled for both days with Saturdays races being around 30 minutes long and races on the lighter Sunday being around 50 minutes long.
Teams arrived and had a few hours getting ready before the 11.15 briefing and the 12.30 start. Quick turn arounds meant that most teams managed to stay warm despite the windy conditions.
Race 1 started promptly at 12.30 and saw Sam Rowell and Dan Smith take place with a battle for third place between Alex Philpott/Jess D’Arcy and John Ready in His Hurricane 5.9SX. Only three seconds separated them on the water and handicap consolidated that 3rd place for Alex and Jess.
Race 2 saw the wind pick up and white horses starting to appear across the course. Pitchpoles were seen at the top mark and the wind bowled a few teams over at the leeward gate. Nia Crockford and Caleb Cooper managed to find the bottom of the reservoir which for future reference in the Windsor castle corner is a few feet shorter than a spitfires mast. Luckily no damage there.
Race 3 came and the wind was still blowing strong. Nia and Caleb had returned to shore so missed out on this one. James King and Jack Butters were part of another battle to fend off Hurricaine 5.9SX helmed by Richard Hanmore. They took 3rd by 3 seconds on the water which was then consolidated by handicap.
Race 4 was interesting. Few boats started but even fewer finished. Sam and Dan battled it out in a match race-esque dual with Jon Senior and Martin locke in their Nacra Inter 20. Places chopped and changed for the 40 minute race which was 4 laps this time instead of the usual 3. Eventually Sam and Dan beat the Nacra by 32 seconds on the water which equated to 2 minutes and 21 seconds on handicap. Truly neck and neck racing the whole way round and a great end to a windy day.
Sunday arrived and sailors were blessed with glorious sunshine and what seemed to be good winds. Full English’s eaten boats were rigged and on the shore before literally slipping into the relatively calm waters.
Race 5 saw all the boats back on the water. The Nacra Inter 20 and Hurricaine 5.9SX were more fierce in this race and took 2nd and 3rd place which pushed the spitfires down a couple of notches.
Race 6 had a leisurely start and saw Sam/Dan and Will/Megan split off to the right hand side of the course which had seemed to be giving lifts to the windward. This paid off to begin with however they were soon shut out and watched the fleet sail past after which it was impossible to recover.
Nia Crockford and Caleb Cooper had their moment in Race 7 and took first place with Will and Megan Smith bringing home 3rd place. No such luck for Sam and Dan who after leading the fleet on Saturday seemed to be collecting a plethora of last places. Proof that you should change your rig settings! Further bad luck was had by Jon Senior and Martin Locke in the Nacra Inter 20 whose forestay snapped which brought their rig crashing down.
The eighth and final race saw all boats having a good start once the wind kicked in again. First place this time was taken by Jack Butters and James King (Also received the award for best Sunglasses). The wind continued to fill in and was more consistent and less shifty than the earlier races. The finishing reach saw lots of kite up hull flying action.
The fleet was back on the shore no later than 2.30pm which allowed for a relaxed de-rigging and debrief. Mugs went to the top three boats and thanks were given to all of those who made the event possible. A special mention to coaches Paul and Olly who made a strong return to the F18 fleet. Good positions despite launching for the first time without their daggerboards. Great racing from all and we look forward to next years event and the next Spitfire Class Association Traveller at Rutland.