All photos © Richard Janulewicz / www.fotoboat.com
This year’s Dart 18 Nationals were held at Isle of Sheppey Sailing Club over the Whit Weekend, and the proximity of the channel ports led to competitors arriving from France, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium to swell the entry to 78 boats – the best attendance for 10 years. Rigging and scrutineering took place in a very crowded boat park, but excellent organisation saw all the entries make the start line at 1 o’clock on Saturday in a breezy force 4-5 south-westerly.
The Race Officer got the first start off on time, and ex-World Champion Emmanuel Dode from France crewed by sister Marie-Candire Dode (SRU Vannes) were the first to recognise that the line bias and a big tide meant that a port end start was essential. They led throughout the race and were followed home by other ex-World Champions Dan Norman & Mel Rogers (IOSSC) in second and strong wind specialists Will Thompson & Zander Ozelton (Dee SC) third. The wind built further and race two started in an increasing force 5-6 with the tide running faster and conditions becoming difficult.
With reports suggesting stronger winds were to come the race officer sensibly shortened the course after one lap. Thompson & Ozelton led all the way around, and with Dode & Dode retiring with rudder damage the experienced pairing of David Lloyd & Joanna Jones-Pierce (SBSC) came in second with Norman & Rogers third. The fact that only 35 boats finished race two gives an idea of how difficult things had become.
That was the end of day one, which left Thompson & Ozelton overnight leaders and winners of the Exe Plate for the leaders after two races. The sailors then enjoyed a Caribbean Night at the club complete with grass skirts, palm trees and limbo dancing.
Day two saw similar conditions to the end of day one but with bigger gusts (although it was sunny!). The start was delayed at first for 2 hours, and then for four. With time running out the committee sent two “volunteer” boats out to test the conditions. They both reported difficult seas, an offshore wind with huge gusts, and a tide running out to sea. The decision was taken to cancel the days racing.
After another hard night partying from the social animals of the Dart fleet, everyone assembled for a 9.30am start on the final day, to be met by warm sunshine and a light force 1-2 from the south. Race one was won by Alan & Fiona Kernick (SBSC), who have previously won the French, Dutch, Belgian and Irish Nationals, but never the UK Nationals. They led home winners of the last three UK Nationals Dave & Louise Roberts (SBSC). Norman & Rogers crossed in third, but received the news that they had been black flagged making it difficult for them to win overall.
Light winds, wind shifts leading to a course reset, and a pushy fleet causing several recalls led to a long delay before race four, and with the latest start time 1pm (to allow our continental competitors time to get home), this race was going to be the final one. With several boats counting a high finish in their results and with the fourth race allowing a discard no less than six boats could still win. In the event Kernick & Kernick sailed a very determined race, and read the difficult conditions (shifty light winds with lots of tide) perfectly to collect their second victory of the day, which ensured their first UK National title. Second in the race was single handed sailor Paul Chatfield (SBSC) – an excellent result. Norman & Rogers, in a nearly impossible position after their black flag, gambled too often and eventually retired from the race. However, their black flag was rescinded in the protest room meaning that they eventually finished second. How different things might have been without that black flag call! Thompson and Ozelton finished 6th in race four to confirm third place overall.
UKIDA and IOSSC would like to thank the event sponsors: Windsport International (who gave full technical & repair support at the event); P&O Ferries; English Braids; Sailboat Exchange; Dinghyinsurance.com; and NBC Bird & Pest Solutions. The competitors would like to thank IOSSC for putting on a great event and for showing how well a small club can manage a big fleet. The Dart 18 fleet now moves on to the World Championships in Knokke, Belgium at the end of July.
Time-Lapse Video during the Dart 18 nationals at Isle of Sheppey Sailing Club:
1st 7770, Alan & Fiona Kernick (SBSC) 8pts
2nd 7788, Dan Norman & Mel Rogers (IOSSC) 8pts
3rd 7707, Pussy Galore, Will Thompson & Zander Ozelton (Dee SC) 10pts
4th 7835, Sailingbooks.co.uk, Dave & Louise Roberts (SBSC) 12pts
5th 1812, Emmanuel & Marie-Candire Dode (SRU Vannes) 13pts
6th 7724, Dinghyinsurance.com, David Lloyd & Joanna Jones-Pierce (SBSC) 13pts
7th 7777, Herve LeMaux & Catherine Alton (Le Touquet) 17pts
UKIDA Handicap: Peter & Joanna Coe (Shoreham)
Lady Helm: Nicolette Van Gorp (DE Roerkoning)
Masters Trophy: Rod Winrow & Martin Stevens (Worthing YC)
Youth Trophy: Chris Goymer & Jenni Donovan (IOSSC)
Kim Stevens Trophy (Parent & Child): Peter & Joanna Coe (Shoreham)
Best ‘Moo’comer Trophy: Patrice Gautier & Carole Peletant (France)