National Championships - Yorkshire Dales SC - September 2013

Photo - Copyright Neil Fergusson


Fifteen Vortexes from 6 clubs, including Scottish and south coast based boats, gathered at Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club for what turned out to be an 'event of two halves'.

Saturday started with sun and a gentle force 1 from the northwest. Keith Escritt won the port biased start and had a decent lead until a big shift allowed Peter Sedgewick and Nick Ireland to cross from the right. Ireland lead at mark 1 and extended off wind only to then miss the upwind gate – taking a few of the fleet with him. Angus Winchester wasn't fooled and took the lead followed by Escritt and Ian Craven, who finished in that order.

Race two was led initially by Escritt until the wind disappeared on the run which turned into a tight reach, with wind filling from the right and behind. Phil Whitehead was in the right place to gain along with Neil Spink and several others. The wind soon returned from its original direction with Whitehead extending his lead while Spink and Dave Hotten battled behind and Escritt made a recovery to sneak the second.

Whitehead won the 3rd race start and never looked back - winning by a comfortable margin. Behind him, Jonathan Lister was fast- picking off a boat a leg to get the second with Escritt 3rd.

3 races gone and Whitehead led Escritt by a point. With gales forecast for Sunday race officers John Simms and Pete Slingsby decided to go for a fourth race. Whitehead again popped out in front at the first mark, and although Spink and Jonathan Carter chased hard he was uncatchable, ending the day with a good lead overall.

Sunday dawned with the promised gales not quite arrived – but drizzle and a stack of wind. More than half the fleet decided to go for it. After some delays with a drifting windward mark, one boat had broken, three capsized and retired and another two sat on shore waiting for a lull in the now ballistic breeze.

There was only one boat at the start area but nonetheless, the race officer went for a sequence, so the sole Ian Craven sailed round a single lap in the strongest wind of the day for a deserved (if solitary) win.

Surprisingly the R.O. then almost immediately started another sequence – leading to some frantic hoisting of sails ashore as this time another 3 boats joined Craven. Ian showed his strong wind prowess by leading although initially pressed by Winchester and Escritt. Whitehead had started late but was catching and as Escritt hoisted his kite in a brave (or foolhardy) effort to keep him at bay Whitehead followed suit and almost literally flew downwind at amazing speeds, while Winchester and Craven played it safe but sure without kites. Escritt suffered gear failure and a capsize soon after so there were 3 boats left. Whitehead only needed to finish to win the championship and soon passed Winchester by still flying the kite and risking disaster. Whitehead was intent on catching Ian who continued to lose ground as he played it safe but held on to win with Whitehead 2nd and Winchester a sound 3rd.

Overall, Whitehead was a worthy winner and retained his title. Ian Craven's heavy weather skill and tenacity promoted him to second ahead of early leader Angus Winchester in 3rd and Keith Escritt in 4th. Neil Spink just edged out Jonathan Lister for 5th place on count back.

A spirited debate at the AGM afterwards centred around specifications for the new boats that are in the process of construction. Several minor improvements to the deck layout and structure were approved as was a change to a Carbon Rig. Sails will remain unchanged and some weight may be added for a interim period and the removed on a tapered basis. All exciting stuff as the class looks forward to seeing the new boats on the water this autumn.

Thanks were given to the Race Officers and galley team for making everything run so smoothly and to everyone who made the Saturday night Ceilidh such a success. Special credit was also given to the safety team for their constant vigilance and quick responses during Sunday's 'breeze'.

PosHelmSail NoR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1 Phil Whitehead 1045 4 1 1 1 16 2 9
2 Ian Craven 1160 3 9 7 6 1 1 18
3 Angus Winchester 1181 1 10 8 5 16 3 27
4 Keith Escritt 1183 2 2 3 8 16 5 16
5 Neil Spink 1048 8 3 5 2 16 16 34
6 Jonathan Lister 1164 6 6 2 4 16 16 34
7 Jonathan Carter 1153 9 8 6 3 16 16 42
8 Andrew Straton 1041 5 5 9 7 16 16 42
9 Pete Sedgewich 1145 11 7 4 9 16 16 47
10 Dave Hotton 1123 10 4 13 11 16 16 54
11 Alex Benfield 1089 7 12 12 13 16 16 60
12 Mick Collins 1117 13 14 10 10 16 16 63
13 Nick Ireland 1177 15 11 11 12 16 16 65
14 Peter Varley 1222 12 13 15 15 16 16 71
15 Ed Corteen 1066 14 15 14 14 16 16 76