BSA Aberdovey (June 2013)

The weekend saw some great action in Aberdovey. I had a blast in the racing on Sunday but the whole weekend was pretty awesome.


I arrived at around lunchtime after taking the day off work to get some practice. There wasn't enough wind to sail so those of us who had arrived early just chilled out and chatted for a while. Whitey arrived an hour later so we pitched the RRD tents and gazeebos ready for the demo kit.

Setting up for the demo kit

Without any action on the beach Whitey suggested we all head to the hills for some kit photos - SUP and X-Fire boards. It was a bit random but the shots came out pretty well and the session was only curtailed by a Welsh downpour. Once back at the beach we just sat in the cafe and waited for the rain to stop. 

Board of choice during the weekend - X-Fire V5 - 105L / 65cm

The rain finally stopped and the wind picked up so about a dozen of us got out onto the water for a bit of an evening sail. Whitey managed to get some nice shots when the sky brightened!

A nice bit of speed blur - I was really doing 5 mph. ;)


Saturday was sunny but it never seemed likely that we'd be doing an slalom racing because of the light wind forecast. We're pretty used to waiting around so it was a chance to catch up with everyone and chill out in the most idylic of our slalom locations. The master blaster fleet managed to get some good racing in and seemed to enjoy themselves!


This was always going to be the best day if the forecasts turned out to be correct.

Everyone was rigged up early and after being briefed we were all upwind at the start line for around 10.20. It took a little while to get the boats and marks in position but once in place the racing was on. The wind was still quite light so I was on my big board (122L / 81cm) and 7.8m which isn't my biggest sail but I figured would be more manouverable at the gybe marks.

Due to the narrowness of the estuary we were running heats in the pro fleet and I was in the first one. We had 7 men racing in my heat with only 3 going through to the "winners final" where you would score decent points. The run up to the start line was VERY short and it was super important to have good speed on the "b" of the "bang" (so to speak).

My heat crossing the start line

With 10 seconds to go I found myself a bit too close to Simon Petiffer, clipped his clew and in trying to seperate our rigs tipped him backwards into the water. I didn't hang around to hear the names I was being called but I got to the first mark in second place and by the second mark I was leading the pack towards Whitey's camera. I finished the heat in first place with James Dinsmore hot on my heels, Jack Trollop in 3rd (blinding first race) and Simon Pettifer just missing out on the qualifying place... no thanks to me.

Heading to victory in my first race of the day!

My first final of the day was pretty uneventful but I didn't get away well and couldn't make up any places during the race. My big board was tricky to control in the wake of the bigger sailors in front and I decided to change down to the 105L / 65cm for the next round. I also opted for my 7.0m which was already attached but this little gamble didn't pay off in the next race.

After apologising to Simon he warned me (jokingly?) that he'd run me into the beach in front of the camera during the next heat. What would you know... as we approached the second mark at around 30 knots we were side by side with about a meter separating us. Now when I say there wasn't much space at this mark I mean was hardly any space... about 8 feet between the buoy and the sand! Simon on my inside had right of way and decided to use about 6 feet, leaving me with the other two feet to complete my gybe or risk running aground. I have no idea how I stayed upright without catching my fin but it did cause me to drop off the plane and lose 3 places in the process!

I managed to fight back to fourth but alas it meant missing out on the final. Oh well... Simon was through and karma was back in balance! In the winners final James Dinsmore and Kevin Greenslade had misunderstood the finish line so the other finishers were given a 2 place promotion. Realising my poor kit choice in the heat, I was back on the 7.8m and won the "losers final" but my 7 points was quite different to those who scored low points in the winners final.

Traffic at the gybe mark... chop-tastic! 

After a break for lunch we were back on the water and the wind was starting to freshen. I stuck with my 105 + 7.8m which were really starting to fly and qualified for the next 3 winners finals. The first of these finals was another poor start for me (playing too safe) but in last 2 finals I got away pretty well and secured a 3rd and 4th place.

Before the last race of the day I'd noticed that tide was starting to affect people at the second mark and I had two possible plans to gain an advantage over James when rounding this mark. Opting for plan A, I gybed outside of his wake and cut in tight to stay upwind but still allow enough room for the effect of the tide which would take me close to the buoy. Sheeting in on the new tack, Chris nailed me from behind as the tide closed the gap between me and the buoy and at full speed Chris had nowhere to go. I dropped my rig and only just got around the buoy but James was long gone by that time and I finished in fourth place.


Mike, James and Chris at the first mark

After 5 complete rounds of racing for the pro fleet we'd each done 10 races. Overall the pros (5 rounds) and ams (4 rounds) had sailed 36 races which was a top effort by the race crew. The races were all 3 buoy downwind but the finish line was actually a gybe meaning that we did 4 gybes in each race.

Overall this was definitely my best performance to date. I was sailing well throughout the day and for once I didn't make any really daft mistakes! I won one of my heats and I made 4 of the 5 "winners finals" (best being 3rd and 4th). My speed was good when powered up and my gybes were consistent... I guess 90-95% of my gybes were planing exits and I managed to do a few good overtakes during heats and finals. Overall, I finished 5th in the pro fleet which is my best position to date.

Sailing well made the whole day a lot more enjoyable and a lot more went right for me than went wrong. Hopefully I can sail like this a bit more often!