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Dart 18 UK National Championship at Dee Sailing Club

by Andy Kelley on 6 Sep 24-27 August 2017
Dart 18 UK Nationals at Dee © Sarka Ngassa

According to Wikipedia "...the river Dee rises in the Cairngorms and flows through South Aberdeenshire to reach the North Sea at Aberdeen". However anyone who was hoping to do a spot of salmon fishing between races would have been surprised when their sat-nav brought them to an estuary just south of Liverpool, where another river Dee meets the Irish Sea.

Dee Sailing Club sits on the edge of the Wirrall Country Park atop a short cliff, commanding stunning views across four miles of water to the north coast of Wales. At high water the scene must look amazing – however the competitors only saw it when the tide was out, leaving exposed the four miles of sandy mud that lie beneath the waters we raced on beween 24-27th August 2017.

Being the first event after the worlds, 16 boats were delivered by Neil & Brown on Tuesday direct from Germany. They were unloaded and some rigged early, most competitors arrived Wednesday and rigged their boats before checking they had the extra 10m tow line and knife, upon registering everyone got a fantastic goodie bag containing caps, t-shirts, mugs, rash vests and the all important sailing instructions.

None of this would have been possible with out the sponsors, Spire Healthcare, Wirral Chamber of Commerce, Exis Technologies, dinghyinsurance.com, Deva Sail Racing, Indigoart, Windsport, The Strange &Co Group, GJW Direct and the army of volunteers from Dee Sailing Club.

Each day, as soon as the tide came anywhere near the club, we pulled our Darts (or rather our Darts pulled us) down the steep slipway that has been cut into the face of the cliff, and onto the generous expanse of sands below. The first fifty yards or so is relatively firm; however beyond that the mud to sand ratio suddenly increases, and those who wanted to be closest to the incoming tide, and thus be first afloat, would find themselves ankle-deep in it.

The first day of racing, Thursday, brought a light north-westerly blowing up the estuary from the sea, and with a 12:00 start billed the competitors duly hit the beach and began hoisting sails. Those who had taken their boats down before getting changed into sailing gear soon realised it was a good way to get a nice pair of trainers dirty very quickly. Once all boats were rigged, and competitors changed, it was just a question of waiting for the water to reach us – which did not take long. At this state of the tide (about 2 hours before high water) the sea came towards us across the sands at a slow walking pace, and having reached a boat it took only a couple of minutes before it was deep enough to float it off.

That was our first hint of how strong the current would be. Luckily in the first race it was holding us back from the line, however that did not prevent a significant number of boats being Black Flagged – including some of the top names. A delay in getting that race under way meant that by the start of the second race it was beginning to flow the other way, 'helping' us across the line, and again the Black Flag took its toll.

Arriving back at the beach, the fleet got to grips with forming up into 'trains' of four boats on the sand, before being towed by a tractor or 4x4 back up the slipway to the club. This was something we got better at as the days progressed – and by day 2 most of us were remembering to tie our wheels on!

There were a large number of protests to be heard the first evening – several by people contesting the opinion of the Race Officer that they had been over the line when the gun went. There was a long, tense wait for the provisional results, which eventually showed Nicolette van Gorp/Ruud van Gisbergen leading with a 4th and a 6th, Tom Kelley/Kate Winter lying in 2nd, and Will Thompson/Eloise Knott in 3rd. However, this was later amended when Des Barnes/Fi Barnes' 1st place in race number 1 was reinstated, catapulting them into 2nd place overall with 12 points.

The day concluded with live music by Eden in the clubhouse, and an excellent session from Lucy Mayhew for those who chose the outdoor Hilltop Bar.

Day 2 saw a light wind blowing from the south-west, across the estuary, which made it rather more fluky than the previous day. The tide was still very strong, which turned the short reach to the spreader mark into a run, and calls of 'no water' quickly proved pointless as many boats drifted off to the right, well clear of it! After two races our tidal window was rapidly closing, however with the wind swinging to the north-west and freshening the Race Officer decided to set a short course and squeeze in a third. This proved to be either a stroke of genius or a very bad idea, depending on your result. However, by the end of the day Dan Norman/Alyshia Monkman were in the lead, with Rob Garcka/Fi Goegebeur lying 2nd and Des/Fi now down to 3rd.

The highlight of Friday evening was undoubtedly the 'UKIDA games night', which included a strawberries and cream game, hit the penny and knock the nail in the wood. The seemingly favourite game as the forfeit was a shot of drink when the nail was missed. The games night was aided and abetted by copious amounts of drink from the bar, and rounded off by a gripping final game of heads or tails where one lucky sailor won a brand new jib.

Saturday brought a return to a more stable north-westerly wind and, with the tide now slightly less strong than it had been on day 1, three good races were held. These left Dan/Alyshia in 1st place, Rob/Fi in 2nd, and Tom/Kate in 3rd. The forecast for Sunday was very light, and as they gathered in the Hilltop Bar listening to yet more excellent music from our very own Tilly Chester, Lucy Mayhew and others, danced to the sounds of Xebra until the small hours, the question in people's minds that evening was: will we sail tomorrow?

That question was still in our minds as we assembled for a briefing at mid-day on Sunday. The club burgee had been fluttering fitfully all morning, but from the wrong direction. What wind there was was south-easterly, blowing down the estuary from the Tata steel plant, however the forecast was for it to go round through 180 degrees some time soon. Our race officer seemed to have no doubts however, and confidently instructed us to prepare to launch as soon as the tide allowed.

His confidence was well-founded. Despite some oscillation in the wind direction before the start, the first race of the day got under way in a gentle south-easterly that pretty much held its direction throughout. What it didn't do however was maintain its strength. The leaders finished without too much difficulty, however the majority of the fleet found themselves running down to the finish against the last of the flood tide, with a failing wind. The worst of the hole appeared to be close to the finish, so boats were bunching up and crossing the line in a pack three or four boats across. Nevertheless the race did just finish before we found ourselves totally becalmed. Luckily this more or less coincided with high water, so we sat there - moving very little one way or the other.

Meanwhile, far out at sea the wind turbines had begun to move and, very slowly, a dark line on the horizon appeared to be getting wider.

So it was that the final race was started in a light north-westerly which steadily built. Congratulations to Dan and Alyesha who led throughout, cementing their victory over Rob/Fi (2nd overall) and James/Alison Douglas (3rd overall).

All in all this was an excellent championships. The sailing was good, the galley staff were amazingly efficient at getting top-quality breakfasts through the hatch promptly, and the evening entertainment was superb. Thank you Dee SC and the sponsors.

Overall Results:

PosNatSail NoHelmCrewBoat NameClubR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8R9R10Pts
1stGBR7945Dan NormanAlyshia MonkmanBlueIsle of Sheppey Sailing Club1911111‑242111148
2ndGBR7987Rob GarckaFi Goegebeur Worthing Sailing Club112132348‑173753
3rdGBR7534James DouglasAlison DouglasBOGTROTTER IIDee Sailing Club(BFD)55317183181474
4thGBR6473Andy KelleyRosie HillThis ol' Dart of mineStokes Bay Sailing Club107109‑14126126375
5thGBR6286Thomas KelleyKate Winter Parkstone Yacht Club397186596‑271376
6thGBR7707Will ThompsonEloise KnottPussy GaloreDee Sailing Club934101619242‑28693
7thGBR5933Cameron DouglasMolly Dee Sailing Club(BFD)15201221871528108
8thGBR7685Mat ExonJakob ExonMat FinishRoyal Yorkshire Yacht Club(OCS)DNC365112082111
9thGBR7311Dan TeubertAmy TeubertDorleRestronguet Sailing Club35485(BFD)142831210119
10thFRA7930Thierry WibauxAbbey Jupp CV Angouleme8(DNC)642822173911126
11thGBR7923Des BarnesFionnuala BarnesBusiness as UsualRoyal Yorkshire Yacht Club11111842822(BFD)2915129
12thGBR7711David LloydGeorge LeanDinghyinsurance.comStokes Bay Sailing Club16DGA27222‑29452222136.6
13thGBR7644Tom ParkerLucy MayhewOne For The RoadNetley Sailing Club‑311617715912113120138
14thGBR7991Paul Chatfield  Restronguet Sailing Club(BFD)2423635713101512154
15thGBR6803Sarah KnottSue NelsonPussy CatStokes Bay Sailing Club213122311710(BFD)3843159
16thNED7960Nicolette van GorpRuud van Gisbergen Roerkoning5628242510‑44133414159
17thGBR7984Mike JonesWendy JonesTop CatUKIDA7101514222025‑431733163
18thGBR7983Ben WillisEllis StonehouseFalcon PerformanceRunswick Bay Beach and Sailing Club6201627‑42618163718164
19thGBR1288Hervé Le MauxAlizee Malavart Arrandon28(DSQ)2330830164529173
20thGBR6464James Head  Felixstowe Ferry Sailing Cub2436223329165‑3745174
21stGBR7973Simon MoruzziHayley SmithDeva Sail RacingDee Sailing Club15199283913‑45272426200
22ndGBR7847Jay RoundSara Stones Royal Yorkshire Yacht Club17(OCS)4421122611144419208
23rdGBR7846Darren WoodTA WoodKamikazeIsland Yacht Club23(BFD)4325131127212523211
24thGBR7940Kenny WatsonBilly BoobsKenny WatsonRoyal Tay Yacht Club4217181527213322‑5028223
25thGBR7382Barry PetersDebbie WatersOn SundayDatchet Water Sailing Club261836317392926‑4921233
26thGBR7962Mark RobsonKerra PearceJustgingerIsle of Sheppey Sailing Club12122913315531(DSQ)2625234
27thNED7705Reinout Teuling  Roerkoning431‑512040320DNE1937239
28thGBR6912Jonny HarrisJoe White Dee Sailing Club401426‑4836251941732240
29thGBR7708Chris AspinallAnna Aspinall Dee Sailing Club2729353526‑4432232117245
30thGBR7968Charles HillierJames MullaneHertelParkstone Yacht Club(DNC)83054234717241040253
31stGBR7714Sean O'ConnorSamuel NgassaElektraWeston Sailing Club202132‑47194639344036287
32ndGBR7119Jonathan WilliamsPhilip WilliamsDespicable MeRunswick Bay Beach and Sailing Club‑5534193495014425235289
33rdGBR6557Jonathan HayleyMark HintonFlying TrollDee Sailing Club453531372033‑52353027293
34thGBR5039Gareth OwenJoanna TraffordThe Happy HandRoyal Varuna Yacht Club32(DNC)213810DNC4699DNC295
35thGBR7604Mark GowerHarry LucasBoaty Mc boat faceIsland Yacht Club52(OCS)1411BFD1553820DNC303
36thGBR7778Lee MatthewsChantelle NeighbourButtercup & DaisyDee Sailing Club14(BFD)3939BFD4836191430304
37thGBR6434Jon WorthingtonSeb GreberDonkeyDee Sailing Club37(DNC)3426324226454716305
38thGBR5303Liam WrightIan Wright Clacton Sailing Club2522.540434722613236(DNC)328.5
39thGBR7662Glen HughesRosie Hughes Dee Sailing Club(DNF)DNE2519243240334846332
40thGBR103Tom CampbellEmily CampbellSuperSonicNetley Sailing Club3832‑5041183837DNE3531335
41stGBR6754David GroomCelina GroomwhooshChristchurch Sailing Club18(DSQ)4944304538284147340
42ndGBR3466Matthew KingslandBev GoodchildLolaWeston Sailing Club22274149(DNC)5651302341340
43rdGBR7969Adrian ParsonsMark StonesCaptain NemoDatchet Water Sailing Club543337424534423916(BFD)342
44thGBR6137Kevin Masterson Dee‑rangedDee Sailing Club342642454441‑49364634348
45thGBR7961Marco ManganelliTilley ChesterLa VelaStokes Bay Sailing Club21(OCS)6117493534BFD3242356
46thGBR4630Roger SandersAbigail SandersDartful RogerDee Sailing Club41DNE52323723434618(DNC)357
47thGBR6894Derek BeddowsShaun BeverleyEugene ProwlerWindermere Motor Boat Racing Club432845503843502933(DNC)359
48thGBR7942Hector BunclarkDan Craner North Devon Yacht Club36DNE245750362331‑5939361
49thGBR7673Mat PollockLiz MorrisHMS Goat BlowerDee Sailing Club33255751(BFD)4956384524378
50thGER7816Florian BleischHans Kniepkamp SVAB39(BFD)471648314725DNCDNC383
51stGBR2943Trevor JenkinsClare Nicks / Kerry ThorneycroftTBAWest Kirby Sailing Club29.53838463457415051(DNC)384.5
52ndGBR4878Mick SingletonRob GiardelliDaisy DartRunswick Bay Beach and Sailing Club49(DNC)565241535449429405
53rdGBR6558Ian BrookerChris Pimlott Blackpool & Fleetwood Yacht Club4630485351404840(DNC)DNC421
54thGBR7818Andrew PotterLiz PotterDeetoxDee Sailing Club(DNF)BFD3329DNC2730DNC43DNC422
55thGBR5281Jonathan WaddingtonMatthew WaddingtonThe Dart SideDee Sailing Club483959‑61533758445345436
56thGBR6924Robert MountainSara StonesWhateverBlackpool & Fleetwood Yacht Club513762(DNC)43523547DNCDNC457
57thGBR8Robby‑Jon GarckaJanis PurtzJamieWorthing Sailing Club(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNC5115BFD13DNC469
58thGBR4985George SingletonJennifer Singleton Runswick Bay Beach and Sailing Club29.5(RAF)6060545459515449470.5
59thGBR7513Nigel JuppMelanie Jupp Worthing Sailing Club47(DNC)5555466055525744471
60thGBR4222Ian McLeanDebbie McLeanNear MythDee Sailing Club50(DNC)585833DNC62545638474
61stGBR5329Michael FeelyThomas HaleyMichael FeelyDee Sailing Club44(DNC)5440556163555850480
62ndGBR3717Simon McPhersonRobert McPherson Runswick Bay Beach and Sailing Club53(BFD)5356525860485548483
63rdGBR1229Tim RobertsSusan Jones Runswick Bay Beach and Sailing Club1322.5(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNCDNCDNCDNC490.5
64thGBR6875Mal TaylorAndy Nash Dee Sailing Club(BFD)404659DNC59575360DNC504
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