Vampire Breakthrough at Whistable Forts Race

A Vampire completed the 50 mile Kent Forts Race 57 minutes ahead of the pursuing F18s and Tornados.  A performance breakthrough after four years of hard work. It also won the shakedown race winning £100 of drinks at the club bar for all sailors to enjoy….

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Ideal foiling conditions greeted the fleet on Sunday 9/9/2018.  21 boats set off for on the first 7NM leg to the Red Sands Forts in the middle of the Thames estuary in a 15 knot SouthWesterly.  The Vampire’s spinnaker remained firmly stowed as it screamed off at 25-30 knots with the two crew sitting comfortably on the windward hull.  It flew effortlessly above the increasing chop, and as it became clear that it was a reach not a run a 30cm drop on the traveller car produced a higher angle.

The way back was trickier.  It is impossible to trapeze while foiling in big waves upwind, and sitting on the deck is wet.  The spray stung our eyes and the upwind speed fell to 14-16 knots.  But the flatter water near the shore saw resumption of full foiling.  The crew jumped onto the trapeze and the speed rose to 18 knots.

Six more legs followed – to Sands End, Herne Bay, Columbine channel marker, Ham Gat and finally Columbine spit.  Each time we returned to a turning mark off Whitstable, half hoping for a shortened course because our eyes were tired and our port hull was taking in water after a hatch cover popped off.  But the race officer rightly kept us sailing.  Many thanks to Whitstable Sailing Club for the warm welcome and enthusiastic support given to the event.

What caused the big lead?   One leg in particular was to our advantage.  The tide turned as we beat back to Whitstable from Herne Bay pier.  By the time the rest of the fleet arrived there was a stiff ebb flowing.  Beating against wind and tide is slow even in a fast catamaran.

This is the first time that the Vampire has materially beaten its handicap.  The SCHRS formula gives it a handicap of 83.6 compared to 100 for a F18.  But on Sunday it was sailing to 73.  Long legs in strong breeze and flat water are perfect.

The Vampire was sailed by William Sunnucks and Whitstable Moth sailor Simon Reynolds.  Mark Self lay at home injured from an accident and fuming.  And Kyle Stoneham drove off to Italy for his wedding leaving the second Vampire on the beach at Thorpe Bay.

The final 2019 event is Round the island of Tiengemeten in Holland followed by a trip to the Mar Menor in early 2019 for some Winter Sailing in Southern Spain.  Any foilers interested in joining us are welcome.

William Sunnucks


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