Photos © Nick Bottomley / www.ocean-pictures.co.uk
The resurgent Swallow Class mustered 23 boats for the National Championships held under the auspices of Itchenor S.C. and sailed in the open waters of Bracklesham Bay over the weekend of July 8/9. The class has been dominated by Carolyn Brigg and her team on Marengo for more than a year and the rest of the fleet were hoping that some weakness might finally be exposed.
There was a general recall at the start of the first race - a combination of an over-eager fleet compressed into a short and biased line. Away at the second attempt in a steady F4 and lumpy sea, the leaders at the first windward mark were Solitude (Andrew Reid) followed by Spectre (Guy Knight). The fleet were using twin leeward marks and this novelty triggered much place-changing in mid-fleet. After a mediocre start Marengo had moved steadily through the fleet to take the lead by the third of the windward/leeward laps. Skua (Harry Roome) climbed to second and Solitude finished third.
The second race was an Olympic triangle and sausage. Spectre, Blue Phantom (Chris Creak) and the brand new boat Cockersootie (John Walmsley) were fast away with Marengo in touch. Whilst others hesitated before hoisting on the reach Marengo went early and quickly surfed into a lead which they just kept on extending. Spectre's challenge ended with a boom failure and Blue Phantom lead the pursuing pack to the finish.
The forecast for Sunday had been dubious for some days and the reality made a trip outside Chichester Harbour impossible and even the in-harbour option was first postponed and then abandoned after a reduced fleet ventured out just as the wind wound up to a steady 28 knots. Marengo retains the Championship trophy and the fleet will have to work harder still to match their teamwork and pace.
1st 82 Marengo (Carolyn Brigg, Sue Glover and David Sloper)
2nd 3 Skua (Harry and Prue Roome, Mark Chilton)
3rd 55 Blue Phantom (Chris and Nick Creak, Mark Chilton)