Robbie entertains us
A high quality fleet gathered at Manor Park Sailing Club in Staffordshire last Saturday, for the Noble Marine Lightning368 Inland Championships.
High flyers in the current traveller series, reigning national champion, previous Inland champion... this set the bar high and promised some close, competitive racing at this beautiful venue that was brand-new on the Lightning circuit.
Three races were scheduled and the sun was out, a light but gusty breeze wouldn't test the helms too much, but some big shifts would make for rapid tactical decisions.
Race One saw a close start as Race Officer Dave Norris set a great course around the whole of the lake, a big shift just as we got underway, however, caught out some and saw Manor Park's Bryan Westley - in a 30yr old borrowed boat - head the field to the mark. His shout of: "What do i do know?" gave away the fact that he's not accustomed to this end of the fleet! Another Manor Park sailor, young Lewis Blackburn, made his LN bow and aquitted himself very well amongst the experience of the travelling contingent - well done Lewis.
Once round, though, the usual suspects started to make their presence known. Lymington's Robbie Claridge developed a lead that wouldn't be relinquished and at the end of the hour he led from National Champion Louis Saunders and Up River's Simon Hopkins.
The afternoon was turning very warm now and, as spray tops came off over lunch, the wind was edging just a little lower.
Race Two saw the Open debut of Emma Dodd - in a boat that had not only been 'podded' during the week prior, but had only been delivered to her at the club at 930 that very morning! Fair play to Emma then as she took the line with the fleet to make her first Lightning368 start.
Again, it was Robbie who made the best of the available breeze to head the field right from the go. In typical Lightning style, though, the fleet remained fairly compact with private battles going on all down the field - racing is just as keen for last place as it is for first with the 368s!
Mark Godden, Mike Ince and Jane Heath were having a great time squabbling for 7th, 8th and 9th respectively....Mike trying to justify his 320 mile round trip from Essex!
A shortened course saw Robbie take his second win from Louis, with Caroline Key getting the better of Simon Hopkins for the final podium position to see the pair go into race three tied on 7 points.
Race three was, probably, the most compact of the whole day. The wind was dropping further and, again, a shortened course signal was made by Mr Norris.
Robbie secured his hatrick of wins in a dominant display where he actually led every lap of every race on the day.
Louis sailed beautifully, as ever, but couldn't reel in the junior Claridge as he'd done to Robbie's dad earlier in the year at the Nationals and had to settle for the silver medal place.
The best battle was for third as Simon and Caroline match-raced one another down in midfleet, Simon winning out to grab fifth in the race, Caroline sixth so Simon filled the final podium place on discard.
A great day, then, at this wonderful venue. Good courses set by Mr Norris in some fairly tricky, swirly conditions and a great welcome to the fleet by all at the club.
With gift-packs of locally brewed (just a mile away) 'Quartz' ale for the top three, there was definitely a 'Welcome to Staffordshire' feel to the whole event, but one that was appreciated by the much-travelled fleet.
So, Robbie Claridge adds to his 2011 trophy cabinet - after wins in the British Moth and Lymington Scow - taking the Noble Marine Lightning368 Inland Championship title for 2011.
A great result and one applauded by all in the LN fleet.
Next up for the Lightnings is our season closer at Dorchester Sailing Club, near Oxford on Saturday October 15th.
|1||403||Robbie Claridge||Royal Lymington YC||1||1||1||2|
|2||104||Louis Saunders||Combs SC||2||2||2||4|
|3||253||Simon Hopkins||Up River YC||3||4||5||7|
|4||406||Caroline Key||West Oxford SC||4||3||6||7|
|5||288||Matt Hopkins||Up River YC||5||5||3||8|
|6||236||Adam Styles||No Club||6||6||4||10|
|7||291||Jane Heath||Burnham Overy Staithe SC||8||8||7||15|
|8||248||Mike Ince||Up River YC||7||9||8||15|
|9||49||Mark Godden||West Oxford SC||10||7||9||16|
|10||409||Lee Bratley||Manor Park SC||9||11||10||19|
|11||21||Bryan Westley||Manor Park SC||11||10||11||21|
|12||101||Emma Dodd||Manor Park SC||DNS||12||RTD*|| 25|
|13||35||Lewis Blackburn||Manor Park SC||DNF||DNS||DNS|| 26|
* retired injured