National Championships - Stokes Bay SC - August 2014

 

The 2014 Vortex Nationals were held over the weekend 30th/31st August at Stokes Bay Sailing Club. The visiting competitors, some who travelled from the far reaches of Scotland and Yorkshire, arrived on the Friday night to be greeted to the sight of a very windy and choppy Solent, those camping needing strong guy ropes and ear defenders to drown out the sound of whistling rigging. Saturday morning dawned bright, sunny and warm, the 10 strong fleet launching into a brisk 16-18 knot South Westerly wind.

Rigging

Race 1 - After some delay to set the course, the fleet got away at the first time of asking, with most favouring the committee boat end. Tilbrook was quickest out of the blocks upwind, closely shadowed by Lister and Winchester. Problems with Tilbrook’s halyard dropped him back down the fleet allowing Lister to record his first bullet of the event with Winchester second and a recovering Tilbrook third. Further down the fleet, the building wind and short steep waves caused by wind and tide resulted in some retirements and tired souls as the art of negotiating asymmetric sailing at high speed in waves proved somewhat challenging.

Race 2- The wind had now increased to a more sprightly 23 knots making the waves something to negotiate downwind, resulting in three souls staying ashore and praying for moderating conditions. The sounds at the start, heard ashore, but not by all the offending competitors, signalled potential disaster for some, but local sailor Varley led at the top mark only for the race to be abandoned due to a mix up with the recall signals on the committee boat. The restart was won by Winchester who led most of the first beat only to be overhauled by Lister who was showing good speed in the conditions. With the wind now gusting up to close to 30 knots (clubhouse windex showed 29.6kts) and the steep waves caused by wind against tide, the fleet became somewhat decimated, with Lister taking his second bullet followed by Winchester and a recovering Benfield whose attempt at heroics with the kite downwind proved a step too far. Down the fleet Varley lost a hatch cover and nearly his boat, whilst Tilbrook became separated from his boat requiring an Olympic qualifying swim to become reunited. With only three finishers, the conditions had won round two.

Race 3 – Only 5 boats lined up for the last race of the day, with the wind moderating back towards 23 knots. Varley’s boat was drained of a gazillion gallons of sea water and sent back afloat to rejoin battle. With the tide now diminishing, the left side of the course, out to sea in more breeze but larger waves, proved favourable and the uber consistent Lister showed the way around, even a jammed kite in his chute on the last downwind leg not allowing a fast finishing Tilbrook from quite overhauling him at the finish. Benfield was third until another rush of blood with the kite on the final downwind leg proved his undoing, with Winchester finishing third, Varley without the ballast fourth and Benfield a soggy tired fifth.

Natsrace1

The hero’s of the day came ashore to be greeted by the mildly embarrassed retirees before the class AGM followed by curry, beer (courtesy of the association), music and sleep. Our 6 time National Champion Phil Whitehead, injured this year, supported the class from the committee boat and must have been peeved at not being able to compete for the top prize once more.

Sunday dawned with much calmer conditions, with clear blue skies and bright sun. Sadly the anticipated wind did not materialise as the competitors dealt with strong tides and a 6-9 knot westerly wind, with trapezing a very rare sight during the day. Going into the second day, it was unclear who, if anyone could stop the march of the Yorkshire Dales sailor Lister towards the title.

Race 4 – With the tide playing a part, the pin end of the line was favourable with Palmer, Ireland and Lister starting close together with Carter, in his new 2014 specification boat, just below. Carter judged the long port tack to perfection, being first round with inches to spare followed closely by Ireland and Lister. Palmer in fourth decided to go left and this reaped dividends as he closed up with the pack. Downwind Jonathan Lister found offwind pace and climbed through to second at the bottom mark but up the next beat Jim Trice sailed fast and free into second place. Jim held second almost to the finish but Jonathan Lister just found a lucky gust and sneaked inside at the last mark. At the finish, Palmer took his first bullet, showing incredible light wind speed, with Lister snatching second from Trice and Ireland fourth just ahead of Carter. Benfield rolled Winchester at the finish to claw up to fifth.

Race 5 – Similar conditions and the same long port hand beat off the line bought the same protagonists into play, with Tilbrook joining in the fray. In this race, Palmer’s overall light wind speed made for a lonely but satisfying race with the bullet sewn on for a second time. Behind, Lister and Tilbrook traded places, their private battle continuing until the last downwind leg – Tilbrook even using a passing 40 foot cruiser as a tactical weapon - the cruiser crew were very surprised to see two duelling Vortexes pass within millimetres of their stern! At the finish Lister pulled ahead to finish second with Tilbrook third and Trice fourth. This result meant that the deserving Lister had won the title with a race to spare and ensured that the title would remain in Yorkshire for (yet) another year (14 years now apparently).

Race 6 – Lister had done enough to earn an early shower as the rest of the fleet lined up for the final race which started in a freshening breeze with all but Ireland and Carter opting for a starboard tack start into the tide. The semi trapezing Ireland led at the first mark closely followed by Carter and Palmer who had regained ground after splitting from the main group. Palmer went left again and was never headed whilst Ireland lost time in the dying breeze and was heard to mutter to himself as the wash from a passing ship slowed him down allowing others to catch up and pass him. At the finish of the race, when the wind completely evaporated, were Palmer, Carter, Tilbrook and Ireland who finished in that order, with Benfield gaining ground to finish fifth.

Overall Lister is our new champion showing great speed in all conditions, with Winchester the runner up courtesy of consistent sailing on both days albeit on equal points with Tilbrook who came third on count back. Palmer came fourth due to blistering light wind speed on the Sunday, with Benfield fifth and first Stokes Bay boat. Carter, Ireland, Varley and Trice were next up in the standings followed by Yates who made the long trip from Yorkshire having only owned the boat for a couple of months prior.

A great appreciation for Stokes Bay, who ran the event concurrent with an F18 catamaran open, the class enjoying a superb series of races in quite differing conditions and showing their appreciation with a desire to return again for a repeat.

Photos in the Gallery HERE

Footnote: The visitors from Yorkshire would like to compliment the club for the help and support provided on Sunday evening and Monday. A broken down car and recovery company that refused to take the boat trailer caused an enforced extra 24 hour stay - club members and staff rallied around to help, going above and beyond the call of duty.

Nationals Competitors 

Overall

Sailed: 6, Discards: 1, To count: 5, Entries: 10, Scoring system: Appendix A
 
Asymmetric Fleet
 

Rank

 SailNo 

Club

Helm Name

R1

R2

R3

 R4 

 R5 

R6

Net

1

1164

Yorkshire Dales

Jonathan Lister

1

1

1

2

2

(11/DNC)

7

2

1181

Castle Semple SC

Angus Winchester

2

2

3

(7)

6

6

19

3

1203

Paignton SC

Chris Tilbrook

3

(11/DNF)

2

8

3

3

19

4

1149

Hayling Island SC

Iain Palmer

6

(11/DNF)

11/DNF

1

1

1

20

5

1089

Stokes Bay

Alex Benfield

(7)

3

5

6

7

5

26

6

2014

Rickmansworth SC

Jonathan Carter

4

(11/DNF)

11/DNC

5

9

2

31

7

1177

Stokes Bay

Nick Ireland

(11/DNF)

11/DNC

11/DNC

4

5

4

35

8

1222

Stokes Bay

Peter Varley

5

(11/DNF)

4

10

8

8

35

9

1152

Lympstone SC

Jim Trice

(11/DNF)

11/DNC

11/DNC

3

4

7

36

10

1046

Yorkshire Dales

Malcolm Yates

(11/DNF)

11/DNC

 11/DNC

9

10

9

50