West Hoe Sailing Club clinched victory in the latest round
of the British Keelboat League as six teams from six clubs did battle in
The crews, also representing Royal Western Yacht Club, the British
University Sailing Association, Horizon’s Children’s Sailing Charity, Exeter
University Sailing Club and hosts Royal Torbay Yacht Club, took to the glistening
waters of the English Riviera for a weekend of close racing in SB20 keelboats.
A stellar performance by the West Hoe Sailing Club team, led
by Tom Low and crewed by his brother, sister and cousin, saw them book their
place in the BKL Final at the Royal Thames Yacht Club in September.
The British Keelboat League brings together the country’s most
experienced keelboat racers while providing an opportunity for talented young
sailors to access top level competition.
Racing takes place in identical yachts provided for the teams, from
Hunter 707s to Sonars, SB20s to J70s, pitting clubs against each other on a
level playing field.
The format is designed to make exciting, high-speed sailing
and minimise the spread in the fleet, and with a target time of 15 minutes per
race the emphasis is on as many short races in as quick succession as
With the sun beating down and a building 5-6 knot breeze, principal
race officer Bill Butcher got racing underway.
The wind was fickle and the racing was tight all day long,
giving the on-water umpires plenty to do.
West Hoe SC were the standout performers on the opening day,
and after luring the competition in to a false sense of security by losing
their first race they then fired in six bullets with one second place spoiling
the days score line.
With 14 races completed, the BUSA team showed good form and
finished the day in second just ahead of hosts Royal Torbay.
The teams found themselves in a race before even hitting the
water on Sunday as road closures foe the Torbay half marathon making access to
the club tricky.
The Royal Western YC team, led by Neil Marshall, had
obviously spent the previous night analysing and debriefing as their
performance on day two was much improved and they kicked off the day with their
The breeze was definitely lighter which called for a
slightly gentler form of sailing, not that it made the battle for the favoured
committee boat end of the line any less intense.
With ten races left on the schedule each club still had
plenty of opportunity to make gains or losses in the shifty and patchy breeze.
While not quite up to their day one standards, West Hoe SC
were still sailing consistently well and had overall victory all but sewn up
with two races to spare.
For the others, every point counted as the remaining places
were far from secure, positions were traded frequently and the umpires were
getting up close and personal to ensure they had the best view of the racing to
keep it all clean.
With just one race to go any of three teams could take
second place; with a dying breeze the BUSA team had to sit on the hotel boat
and watch and wait to see if the dice would fall in their favour.
While it all looked good at the start, luck was not on their
side, and a windward mark incident with RTYC, WHSC and RWYC let the Horizons
Children’s Sailing Charity slip through, briefly, into the lead while RTYC and
WHSC were being made dizzy by the umpires.
The Royal Western YC team had just enough pace to roll back
over the top, forcing the Horizons team to gybe off to the unflavoured left
Second place in the race was enough for Horizons to secure
the runner up spot.
The next two
rounds of qualifying will take place on August 18 and 19 at the Royal Yacht
Squadron in Cowes and the Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club in Helensburgh.
can be found here.