National Championships - Stokes Bay SC - September 2015

Vortex sailors from all over the country descended on Stokes Bay Sailing Club over the weekend of the 5/6th September for the 2015 Nationals. With a much calmer forecast than a year earlier the light wind settings were dug out and the fleet started to assemble on the Friday evening whilst Stokes Bay members competed in a mini triathlon!

A light Northerly wind direction greeted the fleet on Saturday morning and the 11 strong fleet launched for the trip out to the starting area, leaving the unfortunate Andrew Straton ashore where he would remain all weekend after picking up an injury whilst rigging his boat.

Conditions were very light and variable out at the start box and the sailors found ways to entertain themselves whilst the race committee sought to set the course in tricky conditions. Chris Tilbrook produced a tennis ball and boat handling was tested during a game of tag amongst the Vortex sailors, with Chris even being tempted into an early swim over-reaching to catch a throw.

Race 1 - With a short course set the Vortex sailors lined up alongside the Spitfire catamarans, which made for some interesting moments getting off the line in the conditions. Tilbrook was leading up the beat,until settling on the layline and realising he had been aiming for the furthest windward mark and not the Vortex inner loop. Carter took the early momentum to lead across the line with Whitehead claiming second, whilst those behind were required to navigate a huge rogue breaking wave that created a ski jump half way down the kite leg. Winchester dropped early and remained upright to claim third whilst the wave claimed a number of Spitfires and a couple of Vortexes for early swims. Special mention to new Vortex sailor Korzilus who took advantage of others misfortune whilst keeping his boat upright and away from Spitfires to claim 6th.

Race 2 - With an increase in wind strength the race committee stretched the course, allowing the Vortex fleet more space around the other Cats. An unfortunate Ireland retired and headed ashore prior to the race gun to end his regatta. At the front place swapping was taking place between Winchester, Whitehead, Tilbrook and Carter, with Trice, Stanier, Collins, Varley and Benfield adding depth to the field. A tussle with the kite saw Trice capsize, whilst post surgery Whitehead caught Carter to claim his only bullet of the weekend. Tilbrook followed in third and Stanier passed Winchester to take a well deserved fourth in his first circuit event.

Race 3 - The wind was now up enough to allow the sailors to get on the trapeze upwind and stretch their legs. Benfield and Whitehead hit the pin end, literally in Whiteheads case. He took his penalty and headed off across the back of the fleet on the opposite tack at great speed. At the windward mark Whitehead and Benfield were reunited alongside the ever present Tilbrook. The leaders were helped by Carter's capsize after coming under pressure from Winchester. Trice, Stanier and Collins continued their battle, with Varley dipping in and out. At the windward mark on the final lap Whitehead led, with Benfield and Tilbrook less than a boat length line astern. Downwind Tilbrook went left hoping for more pressure whilst Benfield kept on Whitehead's transom out to the right. Benfield seized the initative, gybing less than 5 seconds before Whitehead but enough to roll over the top of him. The hunter became the hunted as Whitehead and Tilbrook came back at him but gusts at opportune moments kept Benfield out in front to claim his first ever Vortex circuit race win, with Whitehead second and Tilbrook third. Trice held on to claim fourth.

The fleet retired ashore with stories of Spitfire and big cat encounters, before a Class Association outing via ferry to Portsmouth and Gunwharf Quays. A quick round (courtesy of the association) allowed the AGM matters to be completed before a well deserved Pizza and Pasta feast in one of the many Gunwharf establishments. A final late night ride on the ferry back to Gosport and the sailors retired for the night, hoping for more breeze on the Sunday.

Vortex ferry

A crisp night for those camping dawned into a bright sunny morning, albeit with a distinct lack of breeze. With the top 5 sailors all in contention overnight it was all to play for.

Race 4 - The Committee had very kindly given the Vortex fleet their own start and the sailors watched with interest for their turn as the other cat fleets got underway and took on the tide which was running with pace down the course. It was clear that inshore was the route to take, with the fleet jostling for a position which would allow them to tack out early. Trice mastered this and showing his pace in light conditions was first to find a clean lane into the beach, whilst Tilbrook sailed tactically off the line to pin others and force them further out to the tide. An unfortunate Korzilius was caught on the tide at the line and missed the time limit, bringing with it a mandatory DSQ. Carter and Whitehead were in hot pursuit, with Collins and Varley showing good pace and it looked like Whitehead would get to the windward mark first - until he realised he was aiming at the outer loop buoy and hoisted the spinnaker to get back down to the inner mark. By lap two Carter was out in front, with Whitehead and Trice in behind, until Benfield sailed high and fast downwind to catch Trice and set himself up a last lap assault. Whitehead misjudged the tide at the final windward mark and had to tack, allowing both Benfield and Trice through, although he was able to reclaim the place from the latter after a very close battle downwind. Carter took his second race win of the weekend, Benfield second and Whitehead third, with Trice claiming fourth.

Race 5 - A quick turn around by the race committee saw the fleet line up in a decreasing wind against the tide. Trice again showed his light air speed starting at the pin end on a port flyer and led again into the shore, with the fleet following. Unfortunately with the wind ever dropping the beat became a matter of luck with positions changing in an instant. With all the fleets parked up and at the mercy of the tide the race committee abandoned after 45 minutes with no Vortexes having made the windward mark and all sailors returned to the beach to await the wind with fingers crossed. Unfortunately it never materialised and the committee took the decision to cancel the remaining races.

A discard and three races to count gave Carter his first National Championship title and took the Vortex trophy south of the Watford gap for the first time in 15 years. Whitehead took second and Benfield third, with Tilbrook, Winchester and Trice rounding out the top six. Stanier sailed well all weekend to come seventh in his first event, followed by Collins and Varley to complete the non-retirees. Mention again to Korzilius for getting out on the water and in amongst the fleet and we hope to see both him and Stanier on the circuit.

Thanks again extended to Stokes Bay Sailing Club for getting in the four races in difficult conditions

Vortex Winners

RankSail NoHelmClubRace_1Race_2Race_3Race_4Nt Pts
1 2014 Jonathan Carter Rickmansworth SC 1 2 (9) 1 4
2 1218 Phil Whitehead Yorkshire Dales SC 2 1 2 (3) 5
3 1089 Alex Benfield Stokes Bay SC 4 (6) 1 2 7
4 1203 Chris Tilbrook Starcross SC (9) 3 3 7 13
5 1181 Angus Winchester Castle Semple SC 3 5 5 (8) 13
6 1152 Jim Trice Lympstone SC (7) 7 4 4 15
7 1153 Nathan Stanier Seafarers SC (8) 4 6 6 16
8 1117 Mick Collins Yorkshire Dales SC 5 (9) 7 5 17
9 1222 Pete Varley Stokes Bay SC (11) 8 8 9 25
10 1163 Lester Korzilius Stokes Bay SC 6 (13/DNC) 13/DNC 13/DSQ 32
11 1177 Nick Ireland Stokes Bay SC 10 (13/DNC) 13/DNC 13/DNC 36
12 2017 Andrew Straton Yorkshire Dales SC (13/DNC) 13/DNC 13/DNC 13/DNC 39
 
Races in brackets () are discards.
There are 6 races scheduled in this series.
4 races have been sailed.
3 races have been counted.
Race_5 on 06 September 2015 was cancelled.
Race_6 on 06 September 2015 was cancelled.
Results last updated on 06/09/2015 at 13:47