|2000 National Championship|
After the driving rain of Sunday, competitors were greeted with the prospect, nay even the promise, of sunshine and a force 4 -5 south westerly, all of which proved accurate. With two 'short races' planned the fleet were over keen and a general recall resulted. This delay in starting allowed Alan Jackson to display an outstanding piece of seamanship. Having arrived at the start area his jib tack sheared and the mast fell down. Using the main halyard poked through the deck and his crew, the redoubtable Wiggy, swimming out to re insert the shrouds the rig was erected and a racin' he went!! Out on the course Mark Barnes and Jane Beaumont ( sporting their highly visible Hyde marmalade main) took the lead however they were passed by Mike Calvert and Liam Dempsey who, after almost two hours sailing, went on to win. He was chased home all the way by Richard Whitworth and Jennie King with Alan Warren third. The waves made the reaches wonderful - classic Merlin sailing!!!
As soon as the last boat had finished off we went again!! Calvert stamped his authority on the race by rounding first and going on to record his second win of the day. Phil King and Kevin Driver appeared at he front for the first time to take second with Dave 'Windy' Winder (having settled his glazing bill after falling into a window on his way home the previous evening!) and Bob O'Toole third.
Brilliant sailing for all the competitors - hopefully all will be too tired to be controversial at the AGM this evening!! More breeze forecast - so the 75 competitors have more fun to look forward to. Must close with a thank you to the 'trolley dollies' who make launching and landed so easy - more action tomorrow
At last the sun shone as competitors rigged however it was not to last as the rain set in just as the first race started. This was the second of the two race days and a south-westerly force 4 forecast promised another lively days sailing. in the event there was a force three which occasionally freshened. After the mandatory recall the black flag was hoisted and the fleet were away. The race format dictated the sausage first and at the end of the run Laurie Smart and Sprat Brady had worked out a nice lead which they extended to the finish. Competition for the next places was fierce with Gillian Parry and Flipper Gilbert pulling through to second with John Bell and Graham Williamson third. The sea state was pretty lumpy with not quite enough breeze to power through it. Yesterdays victor Mike Calvert struggled to get out of the pack in both races only managing a single figure result in the first race.
Race 2 saw Richard Whitworth and Jennie King rounding first however their Hollingworth team mate Parry took the lead and after a long battle there was only half a boat length in it as he closed out a win from John Bell with Whitworth third. So a day of Class history as both Laurie Smart (after 25 years of trying!!) and Julian Parry won their first championship race - no doubt those with the strength will raise a glass to them!!!!
Following a hectic 60's and 70's Disco the competitors were removed from the clubhouse ceiling beams, resuscitated from the Dan Alsop inspired 3.00am 'skinny dip' and presented themselves for racing!! At last the sun shone and with a force 2-3 south-westerly a glorious day was in store. The first start was abandoned as the initial individual recall proved to be too difficult to establish all the sinners!! The black flag sadly saw Pat Blake home for an early shower, at the first mark Laurie Smart rounded in the lead however he was overhauled by John Bell and Graham Williamson who opened up a comfortable lead which they held to the finish. Mike Calvert pulled through to overtake both Phil King and Smart to finish second. With two races to go the pressure is on with Bell having a consistent series and Calvert needing to drop his results from yesterday to maintain his challenge - all to play for!! Watch this space!!
The Thursday race for the Ranelagh Trophy offers the opportunity for the first 21 boats home to win champagne. In a solid south westerly force 4 building to a 5 through the race the fleet suffered the mandatory recall and started cleanly under the threat of the black flag. The Committee boat end had proved a dangerous place to be in previous days with Dave Townend (in the neck) and Davo (in the back) being hit by the cannon fodder!!! however firing from the starboard side solved the problem.
John Bell and Graham Williamson were first to show and sailed away to record their second successive win. Alan Warren and Mike Fenwick put all that wave experience to good effect to finish second with Phil King and Kevin Driver third. Mike Calvert, now needing a good result, suffered problems with his pole fittings and struggled through to 11th. This was championship sailing at its very best with fantastic reaches and wild surfing on the run - all in sunshine!! With one race to go Calvert can still do it however he needs a win so it will undoubtedly be a tense affair!!
Friday dawned the same as the week had started - in pouring rain however by 10.30 the sun was shining and the competitors looked forward to a tense last day. Calvert could still win if he won the last race and Bell was worse than third - the classic final day showdown. Sadly the wind did not show up!! After one hours postponement the fleet was sent afloat and bobbed around in a fiftful, swinging breeze. Eventually withina few mijnutes of the latest start time limit the race was abandoned and the fleet enjoyed an early ice cream (lager??)
So John Bell and Graham Wiliiamson secured their first ever Championship win
in some style with two wins ,a second, third , fourth and a fifth to count
discarding a fifth. A most consistent performance in a very strong fleet and