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Squib National Championships at Weymouth Sailing Club - Day 1

by Vincent Delany on 26 Jun 2016 25 June - 1 July 2016

Today the 60 boat Squib fleet in Weymouth Bay had two races, a practice race in 7 to 10 knots, which was for the benefit both of the competitors and the race team. Quickly the race officer realised that manners needed to be put on the fleet, so he resorted to the 'U' flag for the second start.

On the first beat there was a wind shift of 10 degrees which be befitted those who had headed left out to sea. At the finish of two windward-leeward laps it was the second oldest boat in the fleet, Steve Warren-Smith's Aquabat steered by Stu Rix from Royal Victoria Yacht Club, which took the gun from Malcolm Blackburn and Dave Shell in Moonstone from South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club and Dave Best and Pete Richards in Crossfire from the same club.

What did it take to win in this strong fleet? Good positioning on the start line, and when the wind shift occurred, and good boat speed up and down the course.

In the first championship race all the competitors knew what to expect. The water was choppy, the wind of 7-12 knots was remarkably steady, the start line was a relatively fair and even.

This time the OOD wisely hoisted his answering pennant when he saw that much of the fleet were OCS. On his second attempt, the fleet were better behaved, but a general recall was still necessary. On the third attempt the fleet got away.

Quickly the race in a steady breeze from 250 degrees developed into a match race between two very different teams: In the turquoise corner was Steve Warren-Smith's No. 13 Aquabat, which is a really old boat built in about 1969, which uses Batt sails (the sailmaker who won last year's event in Howth).

In the grey corner was Nigel and Jack Grogan's reHydrated which is not the preferred boat of this team who own Squib 105. This year they are sailing in a relatively new Squib No. 881 which (not surprisingly) uses Squib Sails (the sailmaker who finished second at last year's event).

These two teams are as different as you can get within the National Squib Fleet. Needless to say boat teams are highly experienced, with many other championship wins under their belts.

In race one of the championship, Aquabat led the fleet at the windward mark with reHydrated some 5 boat lengths behind. The rest of the Squib fleet were battling it out at some distance behind. The two leaders battled away for a full triangle with a 1.25 mile beat, then they fought it out over the sausage leg, and again a second triangle.

At the finish at the end of the fourth beat Aquabat won the first championship race by a half boat-length. In 3rd place was 2014 Squib Championship winners Alan Johnson and David Garlic in Cariad Bach, who have been winning championships together since the won the E box worlds in 1977. You don't have to be aged 21, or 42, or 64 to succeed in the National Squib Class.

This is the type of racing that the Squibs came to Weymouth for. Incidentally the winner is the chairman of the National Squib Owners Association. Can we can expect to hear some gloating at the Class AGM later in the week?

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