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Salcombe Brewery 50th Lark Masters at Salcombe Yacht Club

by Clive Eplett 15 Oct 2017 21:52 BST 14 October 2017

The results are in, after fifty years of thorough testing. The evidence is conclusive. The elixir of youth, with elements of love-potion and time travel, does indeed exist. Forget over-priced bottles of pseudo-science goop from high street stores though, or figments of JK Rowling's imagination. The secret is actually quite simple; Lark sailing.

For the presentation of these findings, legendary class ex-chairman Tim Fells pulled out all the stops for the Lark Class 50th Anniversary and Masters meting at Salcombe YC on 14 October 2017. Even the weather wanted to celebrate, promising wall to wall sunshine and a perfect F2-F3 blowing straight up the estuary.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Larks always give more. Once the out-in-force tractors, crawling the A303, had been negotiated, came Friday's amuse-bouche. Just a gentle gathering in the Victoria Arms, disperse for dinner somewhere, then back to the YC. And you know, we haven't changed a bit. Well OK, pipe down at the back, I concede the occasional incidence of male-pattern baldness is a contrast to 40 years ago, but testosterone is fast, right? But the joy, the atmosphere, the mickey-taking. The same. Glorious.

I tell my kids that age is an attitude and here was the proof. A good dose of Lark sailing has kept us young whilst teaching us much. The latest in a massively long list of Lark-ist achievements must be Mr Fells victory this year at Salcombe Merlin Week (so no pressure, Tim).

Saturday comes and a host of class superstars gather in 34 Larks for Race 1, with eight more in a motor boat, dispensing cake and 'advice'. There's no sign of the sun yet but Jerry Eplett's prayers are answered; insufficient wind to need to hike. It's a port biased line but more pressure on the right. Fells is seemingly buried off the start at the port end. Local knowledge manifests itself elsewhere in the form of Will Henderson who gets onto port tack from two thirds down the line and looks comfortable ever after, taking a seemingly easy bullet. The wizard that is Bob Suggitt and his young apprentice, current national Champion Stuart Hydon, cross the line in a comfortable second. To silence. Oops, OCS, promoting Andy and Katie Shorrock who had crossed third with Fran Gifford/James Ward next.

Race 2 and much of the fleet has twigged that the starboard end actually has wind. Fells is early to win the starboard end but cunningly saves it by arrester-hooking the club frape (calm down, it's a running mooring, not a facebook hi-jack). Meantime Jason Andrews and Zeb Elliot (or was it Clark Kent, difficult to tell the difference) had been paying attention, imitated Will's race 1 start tactic to the same effect. This time the Wizard stays behind the line until the start-gun to actual get a second on the scoreboard, with Dougal and Helen Scott third.

In race 3 Jason and Zeb have to do some chasing down, but despite the saga of the floating/moving leeward mark grab another win. The Shorrocks take another second, saying later that if they'd known about Bob's OCS they might have tried a bit harder. The only person ever to win the Lark Nats at both ends of the boat, Chris Allen, sailing with Ally Hall, takes third.

Overall, Jason and Zeb win and are first apprentices. The Shorrocks take second (and first masters) and under-the-radar John and Vicky Brickwood third, counting two fourths. Bob and Stuart get fourth and first grand-master (hereafter "legends" apparently).

Notwithstanding the sailing, there is a oft-missed clue in "Lark Class". The second word gets overlooked. At the evenings fab black-tie dinner, of course we all heckled and barracked the master-of-ceremonies ex-chairman. But the speech of the night was from John McLaren, who, to rapt attention, recalled how his sadly departed father Ian, Julian Hereward (who, together with his young crew, a certain Cathy Foster, rightly received a standing ovation) and others at Frensham Pond SC conceived and developed the Lark Class we all love. Thank heavens they did. Thank you.

It will be hard to top the weekend's celebration, but rest assured we'll all be up for it.

Overall Results:

PosBoat NameSail NoHelmCrewClubCategoryR1R2R3Pts
1st 2472Jason AndrewsZeb ElliottEastbourne SCApprentice‑8112
2ndFat Sharon2339Andrew ShorrockKatie ShorrockFrensham PondMaster2‑524
3rd 2528John BrickwoodVicky BrickwoodWarwickshireMaster‑6448
4thSilver Wizard2495Bob SuggitStuart HydonWarwickshireGrand Master(OCS)2911
5thBeam me up Scotty2539Chris AllenAlly HallHayling Island SCMaster‑189312
6th 2521Mark RushallLiz RushallEmsworth SCMaster7‑24512
7thFishy2200Steve FisherCatHayling Island SCMaster‑97613
8thMr Bigglesworth2462Nick MarlowRuth MarlowAttenborough SCGrand Master‑246713
9thZest2157Will HendersonMandy HendersonSalcombe YCGrand Master1‑161314
10thBruce2507Frances GiffordJames WardRanelagh SCApprentice312‑1415
11th 2537Tim FellsJerry EplettSalcombe YCMaster411(DNF)15
12thSomething Steamy2475Nick HaighAdam ParryRORCGrand Master‑26131023
13thDrama Queen2458Paul GardnerNigel ScottStokes Bay/Bowmoor SC 12‑171123
14thMuppet2484Dougal ScottHelen ScottRock S & WSCApprentice213‑2724
15thRollergirl2520Spunge NunnDrew JamesWaldringfield SCMaster5‑221924
16th 2490Dr Paul RabyJoanna MarlowBUOYSGrand Master178‑2325
17thJezebel2532Tony HotchkissSam BlocksidgeTelfordGrand Master15‑201227
18thDizzie Gillespie2523Steve BollandChris WhitehouseBristol Corinthian YCMaster‑2523831
19th 2221Bill BarkerLucy KennedyCastle Cove SCGrand Master10‑302131
20thTiger Too2538Nigel HuftonMatt WoodFrensham PondMaster14‑211731
21stPolar Bear2531Spike DanielsDaniel WatsonHayling Island SCMaster‑22141832
22ndBuffy2459Nigel DenchfieldFiona DenchfieldGrafham WaterGrand Master2310‑2433
23rdWind Chaser2530Chris EllisJudith YoungFrensham PondGrand Master13‑262033
24thFloozie2527Sarah RichardsRuth JohnsonRoyal Lymington YC/Netley SCApprentice‑20181533
25thPussy Galore2500Adrian WilliamsEmma StokesHayling Island SCMaster‑19191635
26thPink Champagne2199Neil FirthSue FirthBanburyMaster11‑272536
27th250072500John McLarenAnnie McLarenSalcombe YCJohn McLaren‑31152641
28thShenanigan12Philip WhitneyLynda WilliamsFrensham PondGrand Master1628‑3044
29thExpress Bongo2477Glen EnkleAnn BiglinMaylandsea Bay SCApprentice‑28252853
30thQuarrel & Hardly2322Dan ShawJenny ShawFrensham PondMaster‑32322254
31stTiger2470Garry PackerAnna HorackovaBristol Corinthian YCMaster27‑292956
32ndThe Last Chance Saloon2524Mike OwenLawrence HartnessSouth Staffs SC 29‑313160
33rdLucky Pants2442Jonathan HearthNick ScuttSalcombe YC/Middle Nene SCMaster3033(DNF)63
34thFast & Loose2469O BownVanesa BownFrensham PondApprentice33‑343265
35thWeeble2502Steve ChattenKirsty PhippsNetley SC (DNC)DNCDNC72