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Great Britain 2014 Blind Sailing Nationals October 3-5 – Cowes

Blind Sailing 2014 Nationals were welcomed back by Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club (CCYC) with 14 visually-impaired sailors and 14 volunteers taking to the water in Sonars chartered by Beds and Bars from Island Sailing Club.

The racing was divided into two classes, 3 sonars in Class 1 which is made up of B1 where crews are totally blind and Class 2 comprising of 4 boats which is made up of B2 and B3 those with some useful vision and can see hand movements.

Friday all boats took to the water for two practice races. This year Blind Sailing welcomed their youngest sailor, Patrick Beukenholdt, at the age of 11.  Patrick has recently classified as a B3 and hopes one day he will be selected for the Blind Worlds. We also welcomed new sighted crews David and Sarah Ross and Nathon Scarll.  Two practice races got all fired up ready for the start of racing and gave the new sailors a taster one they couldn’t wait to experience again.

To welcome all and start the Blind Nationals Friday evening was hosted by China China with a few special words by Andy Castle had all hoping the strong wind forecast would drop overnight.

Saturday morning started with a strong wind forecast racing was AP for one hour. With the strong wind and rain clearing through all boats headed out for an 11.30 start under the racing instruction of Andrew Millband.

Racing started in 15 knots of breeze seeing both fleets have very close starts and staying close through out the racing. The course where set windward – leeward lasting around 45 minuets.

The B1 fleet had some close battles around the windward mark but key communication from all tactician’s kept them up tide of being swept on to the mark. With a totally blind helm it’s calling the bear away that is key, using count down technics and also the helm’s feeling the breeze.  All boats had a win during the day but after four races one point splits all boats.

In the B2-B3 fleet it was close racing again, all starts saw boats fighting for position trying to win the right place on the line to get clear wind and good positioning on the tide.

The wind was shifting as it decreased all day seeing the boats swop positions on all legs, Patrick at the age of 11 gained his first two race wins catching the shifts and playing the tide. The racing stayed close for all four races and all teams enter into day 2 with all to play for.

Day 2 of the Blind Nationals racing was due to start at 10.25 but with only 3 knots of breeze the AP was displayed ashore. The race officer reviewed and with slight breeze of 2-3 Knots from the east canceled racing for the day.

With four strong races on Saturday it was all close but with no racing to be held the following results stand.

Class 1

1st Adam McGovern, Sarah Ross, Sharon Grennan and Dennis Manning

2nd Martin Moody, David Ross, Vicky Sheen and Nicole Davey

3rd Adam Parry, David Hawkins, Anne Wilcock and a Sally Rodregus .

Class 2

1st Ian Shirra, Patrick Beukenholdt, Lucy Hodges

2nd Jonny Stevenson, Callum Rawcliff, Toby Davey

3rd Nathon Scarll, Laura Campbell, Martin Philips.

A disappointment that day 2 was canceled but some great racing had been had by all. Andrew Millband praised all for the great racing on Saturday with both fleets fighting it out all the way down to the line on each race.

Blind Sailing caught up with the new sighted volunteers and all had been overwhelmed by the closeness of racing and the skills of all the sailors using all of their other senses to sail and race hard.

Blind Sailing has so many people to thank for making the nationals happen and the biggest thanks goes to Beds and Bars for making the weekend a success and to Enterprise Cars for helping the volunteers attend.  And to Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club, Island Sailing Club, UKSA, China China and all the volunteers.

Blind Sailing now moves into their winter programme getting ready for the Fleet Racing Worlds in 2015.

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