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October 05, 2018 3 min read

Last weekend we headed North a little to Brightlingsea to take part in their Cat Fest event which this year was also home to the Tornado National Championships.

If you're looking for event preparation tips don't look this way, business has been busy this year and with a young family too that left us with 45 minutes of training ahead of the event in a fiesty force 6.

We arrived at Brightlingsea with two Tornados in our event trailer and Friday afternoon was dedicated to getting the boat together, set up correctly and fully checked out for racing.

Saturday was meant to be light but to everyones surprise a nice breeze was blowing through the boat park and we were able to go sailing after an hours postponement.

With my lack of helming experience (the wife usually steers) and a lack of getting the boat on the water this year we were not expecting anything great. However, we started very well with a 3rd place finish in the first race, beginners luck we thought..... In the second race we were doing well until the finish, we were in 3rd again coming into the finish line with a chance to pip the team in front for 2nd place, that all went very wrong with us choosing the wrong angle into the finish line, another team went further gybed and took 2nd place, we ended up 4th.

By this time for the last race of the day we were getting braver and went charging into the finish line late and it would have been a great start if another boat hadn't have appeared from behind another, we had to harden up early and were over the line. By this time there was more breeze which was lucky, we had to go back through the line and play catch-up, in the end we pulled up quite a few boats downwind and finished 5th. That left us in 3rd place on Saturday night.

I have to say the best bit of Saturday was the charge back to Brightlingsea from the race course, kites up, breeze building and we were sending it downwind.

Sunday morning came and a little less breeze, heading out to the race course the breeze was building although it was spinning off of Mersea Island meaning being further out in the Estuary was going to pay all day.

On day two we managed a 4, 5 and 2 in some more interesting conditions as the wind built up across the race course. The last race was very close, we managed to get good speed upwind off the start and held that position throughout the race making sure we were staying in the breeze and defending our position where possible. There were a few nervous splits but we knew the breeze was better further out which worked upwind, we tried to avoid banging the corners downwind.

The most interesting part of day two were the last few gybes into the finish, we had to keep the power on as another boat was hot on our tails, in the second from last gybe we both grabbed the kite sheets coming out the gybe to get the power on which resulted in a big bang and us snapping the rivets off the deck. We were just pleased to hold onto the 2nd!

At the end of two days we finished up in 3rd place overall, a very respectable results for a couple of crews with no training at all.

A big thank you to Tom who came along for the weekend and showed some superb crewing skills, especially in the last downwind leg of the last race.

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