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Squib National Championship at Holyhead Sailing Club - Practice Race

by Vincent Delany on 18 Jun 17-23 June 2017

Today was what can be called a 'shoe sailing day' because Squib sailors normally wear boots when they are racing, but today the champagne conditions in Holyhead Bay for the 45 Squibs racing in their annual championships were so perfect, that the sailors were able to wear shoes and tee shirts in the bright sunshine.

The practice race was 'a trick' laid by the OOD, David Lovegrove of Howth Yacht Club. The competitors had two options on their first beat, head out into the foul tide where the wind was stronger, or head inshore where both the wind and tide were lighter. Those who headed inshore were lifted, lifted, lifted, while those who headed out to sea, were headed until they could easily lay the windward mark. That race was won by the offshore group led by 'Brimstone' sailed by Bryan and Jenny Riley from the Waveney and Oulton Broad Sailing Club. Second was Malcolm Hutchings in 'Lady Penelope' from the Royal Corinthian Sailing Club, and Robert Coyle in 'Humphrey' from the same club.

Were these Squibs setting the pattern for the week? Where were the previous championship winners?

The practice race was followed by the first championship race. The fleet did not make things easy for OOD David Lovegrove. At the first start, half the fleet were over the start line with 30 seconds to go, despite the foul tide. On the second attempt to start on the 'P' flag 'Aquabat' positioned himself about two boat-lengths OCS, and the entire fleet sailed up to join him. Again it was a general recall. On the third attempt, under the 'U' flag, the fleet got away, without any recalls, in a relatively stable wind of 6-8 knots from the south.

At the first windward mark,.7 of a mile uptide from the start line, veteran Squib sailors and sailmakers Dick Batt and Pamela Phelan from the Royal Victoria Yacht Club led the fleet in the oldest Squib in the fleet, appropriately named 'Squib'. Behind them were Gerard Dyson and Tony Saltonstall from Royal Yorkshire Yacht Club in 'Alchemy', John and Lou Bibby in 'Insatiable' and Nigel and Jack Grogan in 'Helmut Shoing II' and about 3 others. It was at this stage of the race that it was realised that (unlike the practice race) heading towards the shore, and out of the tide, was the only way to go. There was a battle of wits between this small group of lead boats. On the first run 'Alchemy' played the tide to greater advantage, and reduced 'Squib's' lead to almost nothing.

After three beats and three runs the finishing order was:

1st. No. 800 'Alchemy', Gerard Dyson and Tony Saltonstall (RYYC)
2nd. No.11, 'Squib' Dick batt and Pamela Phelan (RVYC)
3rd. No. 47, John and Lou Bibby (Treaddur Bay Sailing Club)

In the Silver fleet:
1st. 'Periquin' with Noel Colclough and Vincent Delany (DMYC)

In the Bronze fleet:
1st. 'Atomic', Philip Barnes and David Thomas (Treaddur Bay Sailing Club)

For full results see the Holyhead Sailing Club website.

Racing continues tomorrow with race two of the six race National championship.

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