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Three Snipe’s from Budworth, Pauline & Michelle, Rob & Ben and myself & Lynn, set of to Abersoch after weeks of ra in in the North West. According to the forecast the jet stream had moved and summer had started. Our double trailer was loaded with kites, spades and buckets, and bikes tied to the sides ensured we had plenty to do during the week. We unloaded the boats o n the beach Saturday afternoon in glorious sunshine and had a quick look at the competition when registering. There were 16 boats registered in our class and amongst them were Larks and Enterprises. Our start was at 14:40hrs so we had all morning to spend on the beach seeing other fleets racing in the morning.

The forecast for Sunday was strong winds and they were right. This was already evident in the morning fleets when not all the competitors turned up at the start. Plenty capsizes kept the audience e ntertained. In the afternoon the wind strengthened to a F5 gusting F6. The three snipers were keen to sail but not willing to risk breaking anything on the first day so we decided to stay ashore and watch the brave ones entertain us. Plenty returned aft er having completed the first lap or having capsized a few times. On the beach afterwards I saw the familiar practice of a Merlin sailor trying to straighten a mast with the aid of a trailer.

The forecast for Monday was again sunny but more wind than the day before. The forecast was correct and the blue checkered flag confirmed that there was no sailing for the day. We decided to go for a walk around the headland. There were reports that dolphins were seen in between the headland and the island of St Tu dwall (the home of Bear Grylls). We saw some porpoises surfacing right underneath us. We did a circular walk following the newly established coastal path and passed Port Ceiriad, one of the best scenic beach locations on the Lleyn Peninsula.

On Tuesday th e front had passed and the forecast was for light winds. We were on the beach early and decided to take our 7 year old daughter Eve to the island to see if we could spot any dolphins or porpoises. Half an hour sailing and we arrived at the island. Here we were greeted by 1m waves and no wind. We floated for about 20 minutes in the hands of the tide and waves. Eve was less impressed and complained of feeling dizzy. Luckily two dolphins decided to surface about 50m from the Snipe and this lifted Eve’s spir it. Rather than bobbing up and down and wait for the wind to fill in we decided that it was time to paddle to a small motorboat with a man and a few boys in it who where fishing and asked for a tow back to calmer waters. They were happy to help out and g ave us a tow back. Around the corner there was enough wind for us to sail back under our own speed.

In the afternoon we started our Snipe campaign. The wind was about a F2 and running along the beach. The course was windward leeward with the marks being 2km apart. The sea was smooth and allowed us to launch without problems. We were first around the windward mark and a long run down the beach saw us being overtaken by two Larks and just behind a local Enterprise sailor. We stayed the same distance behin d the Enterprise and possibly slightly gaining. Another lap of close tactical sailing saw the Enterprise covering us all the way to the finish just beating us with Rob and Ben 3 rd and Pauline 8 th

On Wednesday morning I met John and Linda the owners of a very old Snipe called Wonda, a pre - WW2 Snipe complete with wooden spars and cotton sails. I promised him a sail in my Snipe to see how a modern Snipe sails. He thoroughly enjoyed it and may come down to the Budworth Open in September and borrow a Snipe. In the afternoon the sun broke through and the wind picked up. The start line was biased for starting at the pin end. However local sailor Alan in the Enterprise started near the clubhouse. I thought I would beat him to the first mark but the tide was running slower near the shore and he beat us to it with Rob and Ben closely following us. The next run (more a broad reach) we sailed with the whisker pole in a F3 to F4. The sun was beaming down with clear water spraying and short waves soaking us ensur ing everyone had a great time. The highlight of the day was the long reach down to SSW. The last beat to the finish saw me ending up in a tangle with an RS200 and a Laser 2000. Rob and Ben were gaining quickly having spotted the windshift near the finis h. The Enterprise first (again) me second and Rob and Ben third. Pauline and Michelle were chuffed to bits with their 6th place.

Thursday‘s race was exciting, we led the race for about 80% of the time from the start closely followed by Rob and Ben and t he Enterprise. We had to do a 360 for hitting a mark and we lost our lead. The faster Larks were ahead of us so I concentrated on the Enterprise and the Snipe. Rob and myself looked back at the Enterprise who was 50m behind but was pointing at least 20 d egrees higher. What to do? Sail on and gamble to get the same shift, or tack and get headed? I waited for a while and then decided to tack so I could cover the Entreprise. By the time we met he was just ahead of me and now he decided to cover me to the f inish. I tacked twice to be met by Rob and Ben on starboard. Rob decided to stay clear of the ensuing battle with the Enterprise and sailed clear. I did about 15 tacks on the last leg and was losing ground to Rob and Ben. The Enterprise got 1 st , Lark 2 nd , Rob and Ben a well deserved 3 rd , we came 4 th . Everyone was smiling because it was a perfect day sailing with plenty of sunshine and good wind, but no greater smiles were seen on Pauline and Michelle’s faces who in came 5th.

Friday was the last day of sailing. Overnight scores showed the Enterprise was running away with it, Lynn and I were second, The Lark and Rob and Ben were equal third with one point between us. So all we had to do was stay ahead of Rob and Ben and be fast enough to beat the Lark. The start was perfect for us. It was a fetch to the first mark. We started mid - line and could free up when we got nearer the mark. I rounded ahead of Rob and the Enterprise. We kept the lead all the way on the run to the next mark. We were well clear and were beating to the next mark. The Enterprise followed us and Rob and Ben sailed a different tack. That paid off for them because they gained at least 100m on us. The next run down we hit a vacuum and were just bobbing up and down on the tide. Rob and Ben extended their lead to about 150m with the Enterprise getting closer. I thought this was the last we saw of Rob and Ben and was already thinking of what to eat that night. However the wind filled in and we got a lift to the next mark and managed to get 5m behind Rob and Ben

rounding the penultimate mark. The wind was strengthening and we got planing and sailed over Rob and Ben to their dismay. We rounded 10m ahead of them on the last mark. The Enterprise had caught up as well but I decided to cover Rob to the finish. After a few covering tacks the Enterprise caught up and decided to join the fun by covering me. This slowed me down and the three of us were racing to the finish line. As it was a hooked finish I was in prime position but had to let the Enterprise in front after we had to tack to miss a moored up yacht. The Larks had already finished and we finished just ahead of Rob and Ben, all that after 2 hours sailing. Probably the best day sailing of the competition with lots of drama and excitement with plenty sunshine and wind for everyone involved.

The prize giving followed and we found out that the Enterprise had won, the Lark 2nd and us 3rd. Pauline and Michelle finished 6th. Overall a brilliant week sailing where we covered a tota l of 60km over 4 days sailing.

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