The UKWA Cup 2 at Stokes Bay (May 2019) was a highly anticipated event in the UK Windfoil community. For a while there had been mumbles of a 15-person fleet. This would be the largest fleet the UK had ever seen in course racing by a fair margin. After registration was closed the final number of foils set to be on the line was 17.
Looking at the water conditions on the Saturday morning we were greeted by a light breeze, not quite enough to foil, but there was a glimpse of hope. Sadly as the sun came out the wind that had given us hope died off, leaving us on the land discussing different foiling equipment.
After a few hours postponement the wind had swung and filled in. With 7-10 knots; it was light, but perfectly suitable for a Windfoil and prime for some good pumping.
Most of the sailors hit the water with 9Mtr sails and 800 front wings. Foilers were the last start, two laps of a windward leeward on a slightly longer course than the rest of the fleets to manage safety at the windward.
The scene was set for some tough racing. GBR-10 Henry Bloodworth three times international Windfoil competitor and GBR-68 Scotty Stallman, Slalom extraordinaire and Weymouth Harbour speed record holder, mustered on the start line…
The first start was a tense one, with 90% of the fleet opting for a port flyer to take advantage of the line bias. We had only forgotten one thing, the proximity of the beach! The port starters flew off early with a slight advantage, only to tack a minute later after hitting the beachfront. With the light wind this was a fatal mistake for many in the fleet. Some managed to foil away back towards the favored left side. Others were less lucky, unable to foil and got stuck in the corner of the course. In the end it was the boards who had opted for a starboard start or an early tack that were in the lead, with GBR-10 Henry Bloodworth dominating the pack.
The wind built steadily throughout the day. The first race was a blueprint for the rest of the day, with the left side becoming the place to be for the whole fleet and Henry taking 1,1,2 as his scorecard for the day. The perfect scorecard being snatched away by his close friend and Olympic RS:X sailor Kieran Martin, who won the final days race. The exhausted fleet of sailors made there way back to land, with all of the foilers giving it their best and having a blast on the water.
The second day rolled around with a stark contrast to the first. The wind was the same direction as it had finished at yesterday, already blowing 15 knots with a forecast to build. Most of the riders opted for a 7.8 Mtr sails in the morning.
Although powered up on the way to the course the wind began to drop in contrast to the forecast, leaving all but scotty and henry (who had opted to stay on big sails) underpowered. The riders still all powered through the races.
With everyone being underpowered the tactics were vital, a good lift or a band of pressure was the difference between a podium finish and a mid fleet result. With the wind being a similar direction to the previous day, the left side stayed favored with the only deviations being made due to some small gain features on the course.
With a small break on land for lunch the riders changed up sail sizes again, throwing what the forecast had said to the side in favour of real world conditions. By this point Henry Bloodworth had already secured the 1st place with two races to go, an impressive feat. The competition was now between Scotty Stallman and Jonathan Ashworth.
With a clean start on the first afternoons race Jon made it over Scotty and got out to the corner in second position. A RS:X style tack meant he was up and going towards the mark in seconds, this secured the controlling position for the race and from there all he had to avoid was falling in.
The three-lap race was completed in just less than 15 minutes, at 5-minute lap of that size being thought of as unheard of in the past. The wind foils were a sight to behold.
The wind came up as forecast in the last race, with gusts of over 20 Knots and the riders still on their 9mtr sails. The majority of riders put on a great performance and finished the race despite the choppy and windy conditions.
Congratulations and well done to all the riders who attended and competed at the event. It was great to see the number of people that windfoiling has attracted and we hope to see many more of you in the future, regardless of kit and ability.
I encourage you to come along and spectate or take part. (Read also "Why You Should Give WindFoil Racing a Go" by Douglas Reid)
1st Henry Bloodworth (Starboard/Severne/ YB boardsports)
2nd Jonathan Ashworth (Gaastra/Tabou / Team.NewWave / OTC / RoosterKit / FowardWIP)
3rd Scotty Stallman (Starboard/Severne/ OTC / ION)
Photo credit: WatershotsUK
Pictures of the event can be found here