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Sunday, 08 December 2019

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Race report: b-series round 6; Llanbedr, North Wales

Race report: b-series round 6; Llanbedr, North Wales

Llanbedr: a World of Wind!

The buzz had been whizzing round Facebook for weeks and the anticipation for this event was reaching fever-pitch. The weekend approached and warnings of high winds brought a mixture of excitement and uncertainty to the 39 pilots who were tightening bolts, cleaning bearings and tightening belts in preparation for the final round of this year’s b-series. It was going to be a showdown to remember, that was certain.

On arrival it was immediately obvious that the surface was the very best quality; grippy but not completely tyre shredding and smoooooth! The venue had a ‘clubhouse’ available to us and storage in some of the hangars; it was perfect in so many ways.

After registration and briefing with Richard and Race Officer Pat Letters we ran 2 Production and Performance classes back to back. Lower winds than expected saw some people rigging 5.5m sails, then soon dropping to 4s and, as the day progressed down to 3s and 2s. One of the great strengths of the Blokart is the ability to race in such a wide range of conditions; and the racing was very close. Running a course on a large triangle meant that you had to use a combination of sailing techniques that needed a range of skills. The gybe marks were buttock-clenchingly fast so I’m sure everyone who raced has nice tight gluteus muscles now (not that I’m going to test them). Most people were hitting speeds in excess of 40MPH; some exceeding 50 and I can vouch that the downwind leg could get pretty squirrelly in the gusts. Sheet out to lose speed? I think not; it didn’t seem to make a difference; you were going fast, like it or not.

Sunday’s forecast was more extreme and a lot of people chose to err on the side of discretion, opting not to race. There was one heavy shower, but due to the geography the ominous clouds dropped their load in the hills behind the airfield and it dried during the day; the sun even came out to play and the winds ended up being no more extreme than the day before.

The end of the racing saw those who had stuck with it glowing with the thrills; some who had not stuck with it wishing they had and those who had followed the advice of Monty Python and decided to “RUN AWAY!” were probably just arriving home, blissfully unaware in one case that they had missed out on collecting their trophy at prizegiving!

Of the 7 in Light Production Martin Letters was most definitely the man of the weekend in many ways; sticking with a 3m sail was proof enough that he had trouser-filling material (however you wish to take that you could be right!). He was in a fleet of his own on Sunday, but still enjoyed fierce battles with the Heavy Production fleet.

Heavy Production started with some close racing between myself, Nick Trollope and Matthew Edwards; I took too long getting rigged and then put on a pitiful display of freestyle Blokart sailing, eventually getting rescued (not for the first time) by Chris Moore. The fleet was reduced to 6 for Sunday but the racing was still fast and furious. Dave Purchase and Matthew Edwards took wins and John Corkhill was consistently near the front, but Mr Consistent was Nick Trollope who dominated the class. He had learnt a lot at ‘Boot Camp’; especially one vital ingredient of racing; not to run your hand over.

Light Performance saw some great battles, particularly between Chris Moore, David Hare and Alan Gibson; seeing them gybe at over 40MPH at the bottom mark really showed how well Blokarts handle, although a few pilots from all classes did manage to do some mowing on the soft and very squelchy run-off areas at times. See our video gallery for some almost unbelievable clips showing the high-speed action.

Heavy Performance was the scene for some epic tussles between Alan Watson (aided by Pat's patented Guiness bearing lube), Andy Etherington, Steve Harvey and Paul Farrow who all took wins. Paul Farrow is a man who always looks composed, as though he is cruising along in a vintage open-top Aston Martin, even when he has taken a convincing lead in the midst of a hectic race.  Some things don’t seem to make sense, but just work.

Nice to see that our guests from British Landsailing, Martin Leach and Andy Parr, were getting stuck in; for anyone used to sailing in other disciplines you really can’t knock Blokart racing until you’ve tried it; it’s fast, close and friendly fun.

Huge thanks to Richard Hollingsworth of Data Pacific for securing such an incredible venue and hosting the event; his wife Sian for keeping us all fed and watered; Pat and Jo Letters for volunteering their time to be Race Officer and transponder operator; the whole marshalling team; Chris Moore and Nick Glynn for humping the race kit up from down south; Llanbedr Airfield Estates for their huge help in allowing us to use hangars; the brave pilots who stuck with it on Sunday, even though the rate of tyre degradation was dramatic and finally Steve Harvey, Alan Watson and Richard Hollingsworth for helping capture some of the highlights on video: it has to be seen to be believed.

Hopefully we will see much more of that venue, there is already talk that it would be suited to a Brits or even larger event; 39 pilots was good, but we could accommodate many more next time!

Final prize-giving for the overall b-series will be at the AGM on November 24th: be there!

Chris Selway, K46  


Light Production

1) Martin Letters 0

2) Martin Leach 135

3) Rob Burns 137

Heavy Production

1) Nick Trollope 4

2) John Corkhill 19

3) Matthew Edwards 22

Light Performance

1) Chris Moore 2

2) David Hare 10

3) Alan Gibson 15

Heavy Performance

1) Andrew Etherington 8

2) Alan Watson 11

3) Steve Harvey 13

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