National Championships - Yorkshire Dales SC - September 2012

Mark Rounding at the Nationals

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On Saturday morning the locals described the conditions as "a gentle breeze", but several visitors (hailing from as far afield as Glasgow, Exeter and the Medway) thought the description should have been something closer to "ballistic". To be fair, Race Officer Mike Saul did offer to postpone for a while to see if conditions would ease a little, but the majority of the fleet (or those with the loudest voices?) were keen to go racing, so off we went.

By the time we got on the water the wind had dropped to a remarkably steady Westerly F5. A simple windward-leeward course was set over the full length of the reservoir and the fleet got away cleanly at the first attempt. Terry Pressdee who hasn't sailed a Vortex for a while had borrowed a boat for this event and shot off up the first beat like a scalded cat, leaving the regulars to wonder what Terry had sprinkled on his breakfast porridge and where we could get some!

After a couple of laps there was a clean separation between a leading group of locals fighting it out between themselves and the visitors gamely trying to keep up. Terry's early lead proved unassailable and he took a decisive and well-deserved win from Phil Whitehead and Ian Craven who both passed Jonathan Lister who's lame excuse was jet-lag having just flown back from the USA. The wind had now increased again and the fleet were sent ashore for a welcome rest.

After fortification from the excellent galley the Race Officer resumed station and a somewhat reduced fleet took up the challenge. This time Ian Craven aced the start and first beat, leading for a lap until an untidy gybe led to an hourglass kite and Jonathan Lister stepped into the lead. A royal battle for second place ensued between Ian, Phil and Terry, allowing Jonathan to extend his lead with Phil eventually grabbing second place.

Reigning champion Phil decided that he needed to start to stamp his authority on the event and muscled his way into the lead at the start of race 3 with Keith Escritt in hot pursuit. Things got rather lively as the wind strength increased still further and to be very candid this reporter was concentrating on keeping the mast pointing at the sky and rather lost track of the fine details of who was where in the fleet.

As the carnage level increased Terry retired with a malfunctioning mainsheet jammer, Keith and Ian had at least one swim and Jonathan's kite decided to hourglass on every hoist and many gybe's turning the downwind legs into gybe practice sessions. At the finish it was somehow amazingly close with Phil taking his first bullet a boat-length ahead of Jonathan and Ian just ahead of Keith.

Hats off to everyone that finished that rather demanding race; interestingly their finishing positions happened to be a perfect predictor of the overall results. That evening the fleet repaired to the Craven Arms in Appletreewick to swap stories of the days hair raising escapades and ease their aches and pains with a few pints of excellent locally brewed anesthetic.

Sunday dawned cloudier and less windy. As the F2 wind swung slightly South it became shiftier and less steady giving the light wind specialists a chance to shine. Neil Spink made the early running in race 4 with Keith Escritt also getting synchronised with the shifts. Terry had a late start and was on a charge; however it was "lucky" Phil that sniffed out the F3 gust downwind and took the lead on lap 3 and held it to the end with Keith in second.

Race 5 would prove to be the decider - Terry and Jonathan could still challenge for the title if they won the race with Phil in third or worse. Jonathan won the start at the pin end and tacked to cross the fleet on port.. however after some delay was informed that he had been OCS and had to pop the kite to return to the start line just as Mike Gower slipped around the windward mark in the lead with Phil, Keith and Ian in pursuit. Phil went on to win from Keith and Mike with Terry retiring due to a collapsed main sheet turret and Jonathan scrabbling back through the fleet as the wind increased but only managing a fifth and effectively handing the title to Phil.

After an excellent lunch the wind came back and the final race started in a gusty F4/F5. Keith and Jonathan won the start and made the early pace, with Ian Craven in close contention. There were incidents aplenty in this race; Phil was held up by some start-line shenanigans, the windward mark drifted several times and needed to be re-positioned as the leaders approached, there were some rather close shaves with the club races that were now sharing the same stretch of water and some healthy dollops of wind thrown in for good measure.

Jonathan took the lead from Keith on the second beat as they played "spot the windward mark", but Keith went faster and deeper downwind and pushed Jonathan the wrong side of a capsized boat to regain the lead, only to rush his kite drop and touch a mark letting Jonathan through and Ian Craven into second. Phil could discard this result but had a point to make and was picking off boats on every lap, but when the final whistle blew it was Jonathan from Ian with Phil storming through to third and Keith in fourth.

The final podium positions were Phil, Jonathan, Ian, Keith all from the home club and Jonathan Carter from Rickmansworth the top visitor in fifth. Yet again the Vortex Nationals provided a heady mixture of adrenaline fuelled white knuckle sailing, extremely close racing, many stories to savour and a memorable social evening. The event was run superbly by the Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club and we are extremely grateful for their hospitality, fabulous catering and most especially the "gentle breezes".

Overall Results:

PosSail NoClubHelmR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1st 1045 Yorkshire Dales Phil Whitehead 2 2 1 1 1 ‑3 7
2nd 1164 Yorkshire Dales Jonathan Lister 4 1 2 3 ‑5 1 11
3rd 1160 Yorkshire Dales Ian Craven 3 4 3 ‑7 4 2 16
4th 1183 Yorkshire Dales Keith Escritt 5 ‑8 4 2 2 4 17
5th 1153 Rickmansworth Jonathan Carter 6 6 5 (DNS) 6 5 28
6th 1181 Castle Semple Angus Winchester ‑10 5 6 10 7 8 36
7th 1175 Brampton Alec Glendinning ‑13 10 7 9 8 9 43
8th 1193 Yorkshire Dales Terence Presdee 1 3 (DNF) 5 DNF DNC 45
9th 1013 Medway Mike Gower 12 (DNC) DNC 8 3 7 48
10th 1048 Yorkshire Dales Neil Spink 9 (DNC) DNC 4 DNF 6 55
11th 1145 Yorkshire Dales Peter Sedgwick 15 9 (DNC) 15 10 10 59
12th 1066 Pennine Ed Corteen 11 7 (DNC) 16 12 DNC 64
13th 1174 Yorkshire Dales Ben Murrell 7 (DNC) DNC 6 DNF DNF 67
14th 1117 Yorkshire Dales Mike Collins (DNS) DNC DNC 11 9 12 68
15th 1041 Yorkshire Dales Andrew Straton 14 (DNC) DNC 12 11 DNC 73
16th 1123 Draycote Dave Hotten (DNS) DNC DNC 14 13 11 74
17th 1152 Lympstone Jim Trice 8 (DNF) DNC 13 DNF DNC 75