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Pwllheli Autumn Challenge Series Day 1

by Vicky Cox 25 Sep 08:58 UTC 23 September 2023

The Autumn challenge series is always popular at Pwllheli Sailing Club and this year the fleet enjoyed champagne sailing for the start of the series, giving superb views of the Snowdonia range as a backdrop.

With winds 9-13kts from the southwest the fleet headed along the beach to club mark no. 1 before heading out to mark no. 3. Mojito got off to a good start along with Steve Williams's XP33 'Darling xx' further inshore and Stephen Tudor and Mark Thompson's J70, 'Sgrech Bach' to windward, followed by sister J70 'Mojito Bach' and the rest of the fleet. J109 Mojito rounded the mark first, continuing upwind to the next mark followed closely by Sgrech Bach.

Behind, there were turns for Sigma 33 'Cryd yr Awel', while Nigel Ingram's Farr 30 'Wild Haggis' was gaining on the leaders. There were plenty of wind shifts to take advantage of along the way to the next mark and Wild Haggis, Ashley Field's Sunfast 3600 'Panache' and Stephen Goddard's First 36 'Faenol' made good use of them. But Mojito managed to keep their lead around the windward mark and hoisted their kite quickly to head down to the next mark close to the entrance of the Pwllheli channel.

The fleet then made their way past Gimblet Rock, too tight a leg for most to keep their kites up.

However at the back of the fleet, Will Partington's Hunter 30 'Honeybee' decided they needed the speed and sailed a challenging leg with their code zero.

Peter Dunlop and Victoria Cox's Mojito finished first after building a convincing lead, over 5 minutes ahead of Wild Haggis, (1st in Class 0) and Panache, (2nd in class 1). Class 2 was won by Sgrech Bach, 35 seconds ahead of Honeybee.

Race 2 and the wind had swung more Southerly and was noticeably increasing ahead of the arrival of ex-hurricane Nigel. A similar course was set, this time taking in mark 9 on the course. Again, Mojito was keen to get going but recognised that they were early so turned back just seconds before the start, reaching the line just as Wild haggis were also called back.

With both boats at the back of the fleet they were forced to sail in dirty air below Paul and Sam Kitteringham's Elan 350 'Finally', 'Honeybee', 'Faenol' and the leader Panache until they tacked away. Meanwhile Sgrech Bach, getting the best start, was already round the first mark and on the next leg.

By the windward mark, Mojito and Wild Haggis had regained their position with the leading boats and another quick hoist by Mojito put them neck and neck with Panache and Faenol. A wineglass on Faenol allowed the other two to get away towards the leeward mark while Wild Haggis were gaining on them. With wind shifting, another gybe was needed just a few boat lengths before the mark. Mojito gybed their kite holding it as long as possible whereas Panache took theirs down before the gybe, allowing Mojito to comfortably take line honours once again. Further back in the fleet, Darling xx missed out mark no 9 and decided it was too late to go back so retired, while a well sailed Sgrech Bach took 2nd overall and 1st in class 2, a minute ahead of Wild Haggis, taking 1st in class 0.

Mojito currently lead the series and class 1 but with another 4 weekends of racing and plenty of discards available, it's all to play for. Next racing is the 7th and 8th October.

More information and full results at

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