BERICHT MUSTO SKIFF NATIONALS – STOKES BAY SC
With hurricane Bertha safely out the way, 58 boats descended on Stokes Bay for the 2014 Harken
National Championships with sailors travelling from as far away as Switzerland and Germany.
The forecast predicted 10-12kts SW, however race 1 started in 16kts and built throughout the day.
The skiffs were reveling in these conditions and it was current European Champion Frithjof Schwerdt
who headed left up the first beat and led round the windward mark from current World Champ Bruce Keen.
The top two held their positions to the finish and spearheading the chasing pack was Richard Pelley to take 3rd.
By the time Race two was underway the wind was now blowing a fruity 23kts, and with the tide slackening the
Solent was beginning to throw up a challenging chop. Dave Poston dominated the first beat starting out of the
middle of line and heading out into the channel for the best of the tide. Downwind conditions proved a challenge
for all and positions changed continually throughout the race. Dave Poston was pushing it hard and succumbed to
massive pitch pole so ferocious that it catapulted his rudder clean of the cassette. It was Stenhouse however who
mastered the conditions best to lead round the leeward mark with Bruce Keen climbing into 2nd with an early gybe
to bank a big gain. The race for third was owned by a number of boats with many enjoying their turn in the soup.
Surviving the downwind ride was making the difference with a few choosing to not fly their kites. It was Alex
Cooper though who made the most of the conditions to take 3rd behind Bruce and Sten.
With thunder and lightning moving down the Solent the wind now gusting 29+ kts the race officer choose to cancel
the 3rd race with many boats limping ashore. Once ashore a great show of team spirit and camaraderie ensued to catch
boats as they reached the beach to lift them clean out of the water and onto waiting trolleys.
So after two races, Bruce Keen is leading from Richard Stenhouse, but a big shout to Mike Palfreman – all 72kgs of him
– who makes up the overnight leaderboard.
In the evening the fleet is enjoy a welcome beer and a BBQ.
Day 2: Harken Musto Skiff Nationals – Stokes Bay SC
Day 2 dawned with a NW 7-10kt breeze and sunshine, with 4 races scheduled the fleet prepared themselves for a long day
on the water and they weren‘t to be disappointed!
Race 3 started with a strong head tide and the majority of the top 10 tacked inshore in search of slacker tide. Ian Trotter and
Sam Barker pulled out a huge lead in race 1 which they held to the finish with Nicolas Duchoud rounding out the top 3.
A postponement before Race 4 due to shifting wind allowed time for the tide to slacken off and begin to turn around. A
port biased line meant there was a fight to get away from the pin end and the race officer wisely postponed in the last 20
seconds. The fleet got away the 2nd time cleanly with the usual suspects in the mix. Schwerdt and Keen read the shifts
well to lead round the windward from Alex Cooper. At the finish Schwerdt held off from Keen with Nicolas Duchoud
showing great pace to pull through to 3rd ahead of Schooling and Palfreman.
Race 5 and the tide was now taking the fleet over the start line and it took a black flag start to get the fleet away cleanly.
Alastair Conn took an early lead on the left side of the course followed by Dave Poston and Bruce Keen. Keen overhauled
Poston on the second beat, but Conn held on to his lead to the finish. Keen finished 2nd with Poston 3rd just ahead of
With the tide now in full flow against the wind a few boats fell foul of the black flag start for Race 6 Dave Poston took
the lead round the first mark just ahead of Iver Ahlmann. Ahlmann put some great downwind speed to good use and
overhauled Poston to build a commanding lead. A big shift and a gust allowed the following pack led by Schwerdt to
overhaul Poston downwind, then the wind tracked further right and some boats were hoisting kites to make the next
windward mark! Schwerdt overhauled Ahlmann to take the win followed by Stenhouse.
After 6 hours on the water the fleet devoured some well earned fish and chips and enjoyed ex-skiff legend Dan Vincent’s
Day 3: Harken Musto Skiff Nationals – Stokes Bay SC
Day 3 dawned with a NW 10kt breeze and sunshine, but as the fleet left the beach the breeze had other ideas and dropped
away to nothing. Back ashore an early lunch and ice creams for some before the wind started filling in from the West with
a steady 10kts.
Race 7 saw Andy Rice execute a textbook porend flyer to lead the fleet into the shore out of the tide. Short tacks up
beach as far as the marker post to the layline ensued and by the windward Mr Rice had a good lead but with Bruce Keen
breathing down his neck. By the finish Keen had overhauled Rice and Schwerdt rounded out the top 3.
Race 8 got underway but a large left shift down the first ran meant the PRO wisely abandoned. The fleet got away 2nd
attempt with the breeze still around 8-10kts. Ben Schooling nailed the pin end and held the lead in a shortened 2 lap
race from a charging Mike Palfreman with Christian Reynolds in 3rd.
Race 9 started in a freshening breeze with Dave Poston and his gargantuan frame looking like the safest bet in sailing to
follow an excellent first beat with a rapid dismantling upwind and down of the entire fleet. However, as he surged out to
the right a group of sailors played the shifts up the middle and mysteriously appeared in the top 4 places by the last
windward mark. Bruce Keen won again (yawn) but the moral victory went to Iver Ahlman who smashed it in what was
previously not believed to be his favoured conditions taking mighty second.
Race 10 An even fresher breeze with a turning tide whipped up some typical stokes bay waves. Leaders started at the
committee boat end with Keen and Hilton doing the least tacks up the left
Some spectacular pitch poles downwind, verses some highly skilled boat handling saw Keen take the win (Yawn!!!!).
The brave either saw triumph, humiliation or if you were Dan Trotter, a pilots licence for his launch technic. All in all
a varied day that suited the pond sailors as well as the men of the fleet.
Once again the fleet looked after itself well with a great team effort with all sailors helping each other recover the boats
and pull them and the rescue boats up the shingle.
Day 4: Harken Musto Skiff Nationals – Stokes Bay SC
There were a few sore heads on the final morning after the awesome Uber Meister band and Jaegar Meister challenge.
Fortunately for them the wind was howling with 30kt gusts recorded on the anemometer and the Solent sporting Musto
bashing chop. The PRO had got half way over from the IOW in the committee boat and turned back due to the sea state
and so the wise call was made to abandoned racing for the day.
The fleet engaged in operation “trolley swap” before an early prize-giving at 10:30 which was welcomed by those
travelling back to the highlands of Scotland. The German contingent had already departed with Iver driving after Frithjof’s
unfortunate knee twisting incident at the windward mark of race 8. After a fantastic event congratulations go to Bruce
Keen for sailing consistently well across a range of conditions to retain his National Championship Title. Special mention
also goes to Mike Palfreman on a well earned 2nd place with Richard Stenhouse securing 3rd spot on the podium. The
rest of the results can be found here.
Huge thanks go to Stokes Bay Sailing club for a fantastic event, special mention to Debbie in the office and of course
Larry with his relentless energy and enthusiasm. Thanks to Chris Watts for providing a clear and well structured account
of his interpretation of how Rule 42 applies to the Musto’s. Also to Hero for his observations, I’m not sure if he was
impressed by the sailing but certainly seemed to enjoy Dan Trotter’s pogo dancing antics! We wish him and the team the
best of luck with Japan 2020 Olympics.
The race Officer Mike Harrison did a fantastic job completing a 10 race series, thanks also to our sponsors Harken and
Musto for their generous prizes and for Noble Marine for their continued support. With 58 boats, 16 boats up on last year
the Musto Performance Skiff continues to show its strength as a class.