To mark the 2023 British WASZP season ending, 36 boats from all corners of the UK, including Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, Isle of Wight and Guernsey gathered at Rutland alongside a handful of international competitors from the Netherlands and Croatia, who made the trip especially for the event!
On Saturday, the fleet took to the water for NASCAR racing. NASCAR is a squashed rectangular course that caters for the less experienced end of the fleet with maximum flight time and minimal manoeuvres. In foiling breeze, it can really live up to its name with high-speed nose-to-tail racing around multiple laps with constantly changing positions! To add to the fun in what is becoming tradition, many of the fleet chose to dress up for the occasion as ghosts, crash test dummies, clowns, the Super Mario bros and countless more guises. The breeze rhythmically puffed in and out for the WASZPs, creating huge speed differences between those foiling and those non-foiling. Hero moments were aplenty as sailors effortlessly foiled past their competitors with ease, only to crash back down to earth with a splash when the pressure dropped in the snakes-and-ladders racing. It was Ross Banham who found the most airtime, allowing him to glide into the top spot at the end of the day.
Once ashore, the swarm took over the entire top floor of the sailing club, much to the surprise of the midlands Topper squad, whose dinner became significantly livelier than expected. Six randomly selected teams of six sailors fought it out in the annual games night. Pumpkins were thrown, broomsticks ridden and apples bobbed in a scene of competitive chaos. The top two teams qualified for the grand final of doughnuts on strings hanging from a WASZP mast before sitting down to dinner, pumpkin carving and ‘scary’ stories that quickly stumbled off piste.
Sunday’s forecast was promising so the sailors promptly headed out to sail four championship-style races. Having sailed out in full-send conditions, contrary to forecast, the breeze quickly became patchy. Those at the top were the ones that successfully managed to link the pressure to stay on the foils. It was all too easy to get foiling in a gust and promptly sail into a hole and off the foils as the rest of the fleet foiled off on the other tack! The battle at the top was fought between Ross Banham, Sam Whaley and Hattie Rogers. In the end, Whaley emerged victorious with Banham second and Rogers third. Peter Cope of the Isle of Man topped the Juniors after winning the final race and Rhys Stevenson took the youth category. The always close-fought 6.9 rigs saw young Ben Anderson from the Isle of Wight edge out Alice Senior for the 6.9 win. Ian Fitzgerald of Dalgety Bay took the Master’s category and resident Kiwi Dan Goodman took the Super Master.
A special thanks to Krsto Matulic for not only making the trip all the way from Croatia but also for providing prizes and gifts from the isle of Pasman for all the UK competitors.
The UK fleet now shifts its eye to the winter training program and planning for a big season in 2024 as the 2025 WASZP Games in Weymouth gets closer!