They were descending on Torbay in their hordes, the tourists, the
Laser sailors, and worst of all the jellyfish. There were also a
goodly number of Cherub and Moth sailors, so we'll talk about them.
Race one was held in a pleasant and very warm force 3 to 4 breeze. After the start, to no-one's surprise, Dave & Wendy were the first to show, closely followed by Guy & Alex in Flat Stanley. At the windward mark these two were followed by Alistair Cope and Stuart Coles, sailing Dirty Northern Bastard while Nick was in hospital. Clare & Simon in Rebel were next, followed by Danny Johnson and Jim Champ in Halo Jones. Interestingly the expected speed advantage of the asymmetric kites did not appear, and Danny held onto 5th until the gybe, when an untidy manoeuvre let through Bob and Alan Webster in No Sense No Feeling. On the second beat Graham & Owen Dickenson took a successful flyer to the right to get up to 4th. Meanwhile Dave & Wendy were getting steadily away for first place, while Guy & Alex were equally safe in second. On the last leg, in a dying wind, Dave & Wendy were first, Guy & Alex second, and Graham & Owen just pipped Bob & Alan for 3rd place.
Race two, on Friday morning, was postponed while the wind thought
about appearing. When it finally made its appearance it was a south
westerly force 2, accompanied by a long south easterly swell, which
gave the unusual experience of surfing on the beats ! The early
leader was Will Perret and Nigel Phillips, in their exceedingly new
Simon Roberts built Bistro, who had been forced out in race 1 when a
jellyfish got at their rudder stock. They were followed round the
windward mark by the inevitable Dave & Wendy and Guy & Alex.
Dave & Wendy got past on the broad first reach, which suited
their very large asymmetric rather better than it suited Will's
conventional kite. Graham & Owen overtook Guy & Alex on the
next beat, but Guy & Alex got back up to 3rd on the run, and then
took 2nd place on the 3rd beat. The finishing order was Dave &
Wendy, Guy & Alex, Will & Nigel.
By Friday afternoon the wind had built to force 4 and the wave pattern was a little less eccentric. At the windward mark it was Dave & Wendy, Guy & Alex, Danny & Jim, Bob & Alan all very close, with a small gap to Matthew & Stuart. Slightly further back Will & Nigel, who had been well placed, were disentangling the remains of a jellyfish from the remains of their rudder gantry, and summoning a rescue boat for a tow home. The first reach was two-sail, and the first four, consisting of three Italian Bistro designs & Flat Stanley, hurtled off at an amazing pace and opened up an almost half mile lead by the wing mark, with Bob & Alan squeezing past Danny & Jim, mainly because fatty Champ's weight was inducing nosedives. On the second beat Bob & Alan's mainsail fell down, and they retired, while on the run a jellyfish ate Danny & Jim's lower rudder pintle, forcing them out. At the finish the inevitable Dave & Wendy, Guy & Alex were followed by Matthew & Stuart.
Saturday Morning was sunny and force 3 to 4. I could say that this ideal weather was getting monotonous, but I would be lying through my teeth. At the windward mark it was, of course, Dave & Wendy, Guy & Alex, this time followed by Graham & Owen, Clare & Simon, Danny & Jim. This order persisted for the first triangle, but on the run one or two of the asymmetric sailors got caught out by a very slowly fading wind, and found themselves pointing far too high. The course was shortened at the end of the last beat, and the wind dropped completely as Clare & Simon rounded third, with Dave & Wendy and Guy & Alex well up the beat. From here half the fleet drifted right with the tide, while the other half, including most of the first 6 or 7 boats, were just about moving left on a tide induced apparent wind. They all thought they had made the better choice, until, to their horror, they saw the boats on the right hoisting kites as the sea breeze roared in. In a mad scramble for the line, which saw almost all the boats finish in the space of a couple of very confusing minutes, Dave & Wendy and Guy & Alex retained their first and second places. Gary Brailsford & Martin Barber in 2640 No Guts No Glory took third from Clare & Simon, and Nick Ripley and Ben Duke in The Aircraft Carrier were 5th. Unfortunately in the confusion the race officer seems to have had trouble reading numbers and the official results are believed to be very inaccurate. However, in spite of our best efforts, we have been unable to get a revised set worked up from the fleet's collective memories, so the official results stand.
By the start of race 5 the wind was steady again, and back up to
force 4. At the windward mark the order was a familiar looking Dave
& Wendy, Guy & Alex, Danny & Jim, Bob & Alan, Matthew
& Stuart. Jim managed to make a spectacular mess of hoisting his
kite, letting the next two through, but he & Danny managed to
power their conventional kite straight over Matthew & Stuart's
asymmetric, regaining 4th place just before the gybe. At the leeward
mark Matthew & Stuart were back up to 4th though, as Danny &
Jim had capsized while dropping the kite. The next run, which saw the
strongest winds of the Championships, saw some of the asymmetric
boats achieving incredible speeds in their ideal conditions, although
the hand of Neptune reached up and grabbed Andrew Prince & Julian
Linton, in 2610 Jones & Jones, when a jellyfish induced nosedive
at maximum speed resulted in a broken lower shroud and a bent mast.
Andy was very disappointed not to receive mouth to mouth
resuscitation from the topless crew of a power boat that came to
their assistance. At the finish Dave & Wendy were first, taking
the Championship, and Guy & Alex were second for second. Third
were Bob & Alan, 4th Clare & Simon, while 5th place was taken
by Tom Lowe & Chris Tholstone in 2522 Black Satin Hot Pants,
their best result in an outstandingly successful first Cherub
Nationals. A little further back the race committee were entertained
by the sight of Danny & Jim, who had just got two places back at
the end of the last beat, capsizing feet short of the finish line,
scrambling up and into their boat, and then stumbling across the line
in complete disarray, but somehow not losing a place - wonderful
things, self-draining boats ! On the way back John Lobb and Chris
Stimson managed the wipe-out of the week, gaining enthusiastic
applause from passing motor boats as Chris casually unclipped and
dived off the high gunwhale while John and the boat disappeared in a
welter of spray, having lost it completely on a furious three-sailer.
With the first two places sewn up, race 6, on Sunday morning, should have been something of an anti-climax. However 3rd place was very much open, with 3 boats capable of taking it, and two more with revenge in mind for what they considered to be very bad luck in races 3 and 4. The weather looked very rough, and was drizzling as well, so a rather depleted fleet set out. Dave & Wendy had opted for a leisurely breakfast, while Alex Windsor had finished the previous race in considerable pain from what turned out to be an injured ligament, and couldn't sail. Once people were out, (and some were very much later than others), the weather turned out to be no more than force 4, albeit with some pretty big gusts, and the sun soon reappeared. At the windward mark it was Matthew & Stuart, Graham & Owen, Clare & Simon. Clare & Simon dropped back to 4th on the first triangle, and on a second beat made very one sided by a windshift, Danny & Jim overtook Gary and Martin for 5th. The run was another wild surfing session, but led to no place changes, and was followed by the last beat of the Championships, in which Matthew & Stuart suffered a gear failure just short of the line, rumoured to have been a jellyfish eating their mainsheet, and dropped to third place. Graham & Owen gratefully took first place in the race, and third overall, with Bob & Alan 2nd.
The weeks socials started from a 'sponsors party' on the Thursday. I can't help thinking that there was not a lot in this event for the sponsor, no publicity or anything, someone eventually found out that A.P.V. Crepaco make ice-cream machines ! However they did get plenty of exposure with the Mayor, the Yacht Club, and similar Torquay dignitaries, so maybe that, rather than publicity, was what they wanted.
So, what was it like overall? Basically the best Nationals for a few years. The weather was great, the lack of a real blow being balanced by the warmth and sunshine. O.K. race 4 was a bit of a pig, with the windshift, but those who lost out less badly than the author were not so upset, and with hindsight I really ought to have realised that when a northerly wind drops at lunchtime on a hot day, with a south facing coast, then the imminent arrival of a sea breeze is a racing certainty. Organisation was great, with the exception the one results problem, and the unstuffy attitude - no signing off unless you had retired, considerable tolerance of trifle throwing etc, was very welcome. Certainly the Royal Torbay Yacht Club is not much like the Royal Lymington! Nick's decision - aided by the Moth's - decision to go upmarket was vindicated. Although the turnout wasn't especially good there were a lot of new faces - Tom Low & Chris Tolstrum in "Black Satin Hot Pants" - an Easter Beagle design, doing particularly well. Andy Prince and Julian Linton were also getting "Jones & Jones" very well together, and would have been well up in the top ten if their mast hadn't gone over the side.
Finally. boat speed. Well, it was obvious that Dave and Wendy had lots of it They were sailing very fast too. Will Perret's new boat appears to be extremely quick, but has been plagued by rudder and gantry problems. Like Norwegian Blue it has a short luff large roach mainsail, but Will's sails are from Graham Caws. Apparently Will told Graham to cut him a mainsail just like Andy Patterson's Moth mainsail, and the result is a sail that is very different to the long top batten sails used by the Copes last season. Further down the fleet all those with Bistros were going much faster than they have been seen to before. Flat Stanley seems to be well on the pace still, but it is difficult to be sure whether that's the boat or the crew. Certainly they never really looked like catching Dave & Wendy. The Dave Roe/ Will Perret short luff rig definitely seems to be the way to go at the bottom end of the weight range, and it will be interesting to see if it is as effective if a heavyweight buys one.
|Psn.||Helm||Crew||No.||Design||Club||Race 1||Race 2||Race 3||Race 4||Race 5||Race 6||Points|
|1||Dave Roe||Wendy Barclay||2637||Italian Bistro||Lee on Solent S.C.||1||1||1||1||1||DNS||0|
|2||Guy Lewington||Alex Windsor||2705||Mod. Murray||Frensham Pond S.C.||2||2||2||2||2||DNS||15|
|3||Graham Dickenson||Owen Dickenson||2628||Robinson 4||Llangorse S.C.||3||4||4||7||8||1||34.7|
|4||Matthew Cope||Stuart Coles||2627||Deeley 5||Emsworth Slipper S.C.||6||7||3||9||4||3||44.1|
|5||Clare Butler||Simon Roberts||2624||Howlett 1||Lee on Solent S.C.||5||5||5||4||10||4||46|
|6||Bob Clements||Alan Webster||2642||Italian Bistro||Queen Mary S.C.||4||6||RTD||RTD||3||2||54|
|7||Gary Brailsford||Martin Barber||2640||Italian Bistro||Medway Y.C.||11||10||6||3||6||6||56.8|
|8||Tom Low||Chris Tolstrom||2522||Easter Beagle||Tamesis S.C.||13||8||8||11||5||10||71|
|9||Danny Johnson||Jim Champ||2641||Italian Bistro||Datchet S.C.||7||11||RTD||13||9||5||74|
|10||Andy Wilcox||Andrea Wilcox||2606||Murray||Clevedon S.C.||10||12||12||8||12||7||79|
|11||John Lobb||Chris Stimpson||2639||Deeley 6||Royal Victoria Y.C.||9||13||10||10||11||RTD||83|
|12||Nick Ripley||Ben Duke||2512||Ellway 1||Prospective S.C.||15||RTD||13||5||14||8||84|
|13||Tim Rennel||Adrian Rennel||2547||Forman 8||Clevedon S.C.||12||15||9||12||DNS||9||87|
|14||Tim Dean||Una Mary Colclough||2512||Ellway 3||Lee on Solent S.C.||14||14||7||14||13||DNS||92|
|15||Andrew Price||Julian Linton||2610||Murray||Chapman Sands S.C.||8||9||RTD||6||RTD||DNS||94.7|
|16||Simon Baker||Alan Attlebury||2638||Fartpants||Mayflower S.C.||RTD||RTD||11||DNS||7||DNS||110|
|17||Will Perret||Nigel Phillips||2646||Italian Bistro||Lee on Solent S.C.||RTD||3||RTD||DNS||DNS||DNS||113.7|
|18||Dave Stuart||Nicky Gallon||2622||Queen Mary S.C.||RTD||RTD||14||15||RTD||DNS|
|19||Karl Rattray||Adam Cairns||2604||Deeley 3||Glossop & District S.C.||RTD||DSQ||DNS||DNS||DNS||DNS||137|