K6 Nationals 2021

September 9th - September 12th 2021 , Royal Torbay YC

Numbers were down from previous years, due to COVID and other health problems affecting would-be entrants. Nonetheless, the nine boats that did compete enjoyed mild Torquay weather with some very good sailing conditions for the first three days. Slick race management by PRO Bob Penfold and his experienced team and restraint on the sailors’ part meant that there was only one recall for the whole of the series. 

Races 1 and 2 were sailed in a moderate SSW wind that generally veered during the afternoon. Local boys, Steve and Ross Birbeck, took advantage of this and posted two wins, followed by Neil Fulcher and Jim Hunt and Dave Hall, Heather Chipperfield and Paul Constable in both races. The static results belied the close racing and constant place changing, especially in the second race. There were a few mishaps, with Paul Constable deciding to leave the boat on the very first tack in race one, as well as two other sailors in other boats, indicating the lack of practice that most crews have had this year. Fraser Elms, whose partner Georgina Smith, couldn’t make the first day’s racing, was fortunate to pick up another crew, Dave Roberts, (whose helm had not informed him he wasn’t coming!) for day one and was overheard attributing his good results to the new crew. Fortunately, mariticide was prevented and calm restored when Fraser’s results continued to be good with his usual crew in the following days! 

Three races were sailed on day two, with some fairly strong gusts at times, the wind jumping around from W to SW and back, requiring course changes at times. In the first race the Birbecks just overhauled Hall & Co. at the finish to win by two seconds, with Fulcher and Hunt a close third, followed by the Gorringe brothers, David and Jon. These four boats seemed to have an edge on the rest of the fleet in windier conditions and two mini fleets started to race each other, with Peter Kirkby and Richard Barker trying to stay ahead of Fraser Elms and Georgina Smith, Tony Harper and Steve Watson, Paul, Ami and Ollie Owen and John Tabor and Dan Robins.

The second race saw Fulcher and Hunt take the gun by just a second ahead of the Birbeck brothers, followed by the the Gorringes. In race 3 a real tussle ensued, as the four leading boats swapped places and by the last run the Birbecks were just ahead of Hall & Co., only to rip their spinnaker almost in half, allowing Hall to take the win ahead of the Gorringes. The Birbecks just managed to keep in front of Fulcher and Hunt for third. 

Day 3 had similar weather conditions to the previous day and a tightly fought first race ended in the Birbecks just winning against Fulcher and Hunt, then Hall & Co. The wind dropped for the second race, with dolphins entertaining the fleet and Dave Hall even blaming them for causing his poor result, but actually the blame was due more rightly to a large shift to the right that caught him and Fulcher and Hunt, who were leading at the time, to relegate them to 5th and 6th respectively, leaving the Birbecks gleefully to take the lead and keep it to the finish, just about, ahead of strong downwind challenges from the Gorringes, and light weather specialists Kirkby and Barker, with Fraser Elms and Georgie fourth. The wind reverted to its original strength and direction in the last race. Fulcher and Hunt pulled out all the stops and got their revenge on the rest of the fleet to win, followed by Hall & Co., and the Gorringes. The Birbecks, bedevilled by spinnaker problems yet again, limped in fourth. 

On the last day, a forecast of no wind proved correct and the fleet stayed ashore, to the relief of many with tired and aching limbs, so the results stood from the previous day’s racing. Many thanks go to the Royal Torbay for their great course laying and prompt starting, together with putting on a delicious dinner for competitors on the Saturday evening.

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