More than 20 masts were broken or bent on the first day of the Tasar internationals

A strong southerly offshore wind greeted the competitors for the first race of the Tasar International championship at Whitstable YC on Sunday 19 August. The fleet was keen to get the championship underway, but having left the beach the wind continued to build. Race one was started but only 10 boats got a full lap before the race was abandoned as so many of the fleet were upside down! With race two also postponed, the afternoon was spent restoring the damaged boats. More than 20 masts were broken or bent, so it was an expensive start to the series.

With the light winds shifting 45 degrees every five minutes, setting a course proved to be a real challenge on the Monday morning. As the race started the wind shifted yet again and turned the first leg into a reach, whilst the light air made it difficult for the leaders to get away from the fleet. There were numerous incidents at all the marks and most of the competitors were pleased when the course was shortened.

The second race (race 3) on the Monday started with a steadier breeze, but the change of tide caught many competitors out and left the start line very empty. Local knowledge of keeping out of the strong tide gave some Whitstable sailors a good advantage. The long beat of the trapezoid course was against the tide and meant that once again the course was shortened and all hoped for more wind the next day.

Tuesday provided the conditions that the fleet had been waiting for. Bright sunshine and wind of 3-4, occasionally building to 5, allowed the race schedule to get back on track as three races were sailed back to back. The triangular courses were a popular choice, with exhilarating reaches and long beats. Positions changed continually and the whole fleet enjoyed superb close racing.

The start of the second race saw “Chubby Bunny” (Richard Russell / Tig Williams) and their conspicuous 12ft rabbit logoed sail, port tack the entire fleet from the pin end. In all the races it paid to sail inshore and gain the lifts to the windward mark, with the Americans, Canadians and Australians dominating the front of the fleet. As tired competitors came ashore in the evening, several were spotted kissing the Whitstable pebbles in appreciation of being back on dry land at last, but all were seen to be wearing very broad smiles!

More news tomorrow.