British Keelboat League – Marconi Youth Team Report


Last weekend, the first leg of the 2018 British Keelboat Sailing League was sailed at the Royal Southern YC on the Hamble. Marconi were represented in this youth event by Jack Collis, Jack Wardell, David Nickalls and Daniel Nickalls.

The Marconi team were sailing together for the very first time in a keelboat, and j80’s rather than the j70’s that we’d lead them to expect. Never the less our team did well up against some strong competition.

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Here’s David’s report from the event.

On the weekend beginning the 28th of October the marconi youth keelboat sailing team competed in the youth qualifiers in J80s at the Royal Southern Yacht club. Our young team went to the event with high hopes but realistic expectations, this was their first time racing a keelboat for three of them, and the first time in a J80 for the last. They were immediately thrown in at the deep end (pardon the pun), competing in the first three races meant rigging an unfamiliar boat. The team tried to lull the opposition into a false sense of security by making fools of themselves during the rigging time, including an (unnamed) crew member falling flat on his bottom in front of all the competition within five minutes of stepping on board!

Image: Royal Southern YC

Boat handling was the main challenge of the weekend, with boat speed being no. 1 enemy. Early on the team pulled some great starts out of the bag, however the lack of experience in the boat often left them being rolled after two or three tacks. Despite this the marconi team was competitive and found themselves regularly challenging the faster teams in the competition. Some unfortunate penalties as the weekend progressed hindered progress a little, a noteworthy occurrence was the spinnaker pole elastic failing to retract, meaning a 360 penalty on the upwind leg, something that is hard to recover from!

image: Royal Southern YC

Confidence built as boat speed and maneuvers improved, along with the growing feeling of frustration at being unable to secure a high scoring finish, despite drastic improvement and much more time spent in the top three during the first ten minutes of each race.

The final race of the competition for the marconi team started badly, getting their worst start of their regatta due to a large right swing 30 seconds to the start, fortunately the race committee were merciful to the three boats (out of five) that had been shut out, and recalled the fleet for another attempt. This second chance was seized, with the marconi team winning the start, and racing in close quarters with first and third place. On the final downwind leg the marconi boys found themselves rounding the windward mark in second, with a relatively secure lead (5 second) on third place. First place had overstood the finish meaning the focus was switched onto trying to secure their first race win! With the best downwind leg sailed all weekend from the marconi team, they found themselves neck and neck on the finish line, with greater boat speed. The jury was out as to who had won, unfortunately later it was found that a second place was recorded.

image: Royal Southern YC

All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyed weekend with thanks to Royal Southern Yacht Club for hosting, and all other teams for accepting us into their ranks. A special thanks goes to the team travelling from the netherlands to represent RORC, showing great commitment and providing friendly company, making us all feel welcome. A massive thank you must be given to Peter Ward for organising the marconi team and all of the sponsors for making it possible. The team are looking forward to showing everyone what they have learned in the marconi champs coming up in April – see you there!

David Nickalls (Bowman)

Well done guys, you did the club proud! And in the style of Attenborough’s  Blue Planet, here’s some of the highlights that helped to make this story:

  • Dan falling over “trying to give the other teams a false sense of security”
  • First time rigging (and derigging….and rigging…etc.)
  • Dave falling over “spectacular & heroic dive from the bowman to set the spinnaker quickly on the new gybe left him in danger of being swept overboard before scrambling to the windward side”
  • Going 635 knots downwind on our final race – nearly overtaking the competition who had recently returned from a trawling expedition
  • Getting done dirty by the race committee in the last race because we truly beat them (does the end cap of a bowsprit really matter?)
  • Trying to go upwind with the kite still half way up because we didn’t drop it in time.
  • Getting trolled by the spinnaker pole because it’s meant to come in by itself and we get a penalty for it not being in.
  • Jack C sitting at the back of the boat nice and dry while Jack W, David N and Dan N get absolutely soaked at the front.
  • Going from consistently 5th to nearly winning a race and competing for top 3 nearly every time.
  • Biggest free dinner ever on saturday night.
  • Worst start ever on our final race – two minutes later the race is abandoned…. 😀

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