Nils Jolliffe and Jon Branch were the overall winners of the B14 event at Rutland SC this weekend

The B14 fleet may have only had five boats on the start line at the Rutland event this weekend (23 March), but the tight racing and light winds made for exciting sailing.

Every team both won a race and came last in a race and, with only eight points separating the boats after the eight races, this has to be a great advert for competitive skiff sailing.

Saturday’s racing was started in winds that were difficult to predict, and that set the scene for the whole weekend. It was a case of getting a clean start and finding the favourable wind. With the wind varying in speed and direction significantly across the course, it was a case of trying to second guess what it would do. The four races on Saturday were all tightly fought, with places changing on almost every leg. Nils Jolliffe and Jon Branch of ‘Raymarine’ had the best of the day with two wins, a second and a third, closely followed by Dave Hayes and Sean Dwyer of ‘Sea Sure’ one point behind. Matt Searle and Rich Bell of ‘Sprint’ had a consistent day counting two seconds and a third.

On the Sunday the boats set out to the race course in a slightly stronger 12-15 knots of breeze, but by the time the racing started it had dropped off to similar conditions to Saturday.

In a reversal of form from the day before, the three teams yet to win a race all did so in the hard fought races, with many places changing right up to the finish line. Matt and Rich had the best of the day with two wins, but Alan Davies and Alison Wilson were equal on points with them for the day having consistently being up the front of the fleet.

In the final race of the day, it was too tight to call, and everyone knew their overall position would depend on the result. Nils and Jon and Alan and Alison went right up the first beat, hoping to get the breeze filling in from this side. At the windward mark this had proved to be the correct choice and a gap had been created to Mark Barnes and Tom Pygall in third. As the two boats up front swapped places throughout the race, Mark and Tom closed the gap to almost nothing in the dying seconds of the last leg. Having to squeeze through the leeward gate just before the finish line, the positions were Alan and Alison leading, with Nils and Jon and Mark and Tom just behind. As the boats gybed for the finish line, the way the boats had been lined up was the critical factor. Mark and Tom managed to roll Nils and Jon, who in turn had done the same to Alan and Alison.

With the racing finished, the grey matter of the crews turned to trying to work out the points situation. Nils and Jon managed to take first place due to their good set of results on Saturday, with Matt and Rich in second. First and second places were taken by boats with North Sails, with last years Ullmans (now being made by Hydes) in third and fourth.

Overall Results

1st GBR728, Jolliffe/Branch 2/1/3/1/2/5/4/2 -15pts

2nd GBR725, Searle/Bell 3/2/2/5/1/4/1/4 -17pts

3rd GBR 725, Hayes/Dwyer 1/3/1/3/5/2/3/5 -18pts

4th GBR 695, Barnes/Pygall 5/4/4/2/3/3/5/1 -22pts

5th GBR 753, Davis/Wilson 4/5/5/4/4/1/2/3 -23pts