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Heron Nationals at Priory Sailing Club

by Derek Dodd and Philip Lund 28 Sep 2010 21:40 BST 4-5 September 2010

Further to requests from a number of prominent members of the Association, the 2010 National Crewed and National Single-handed events were held over a single weekend this year. This double event was kindly hosted by Priory SC at Bedford and provided an opportunity for the participants to spend more time in each other’s company around the sets of four races held for each of the events.

A total of 14 boats participated in the events: 14 in the crewed event and 13 in the single-handed one. The boats came from a wide range of clubs: 5 from the host club, Priory SC; 4 from Eyott SC; 3 from Chipstead SC; one from Up River YC; and one from Stewartby SC. This meant that three clubs were able to contest for the trophy awarded to the most successful club in the crewed Championships. Unfortunately a number of prominent Committee and other members of the Association were unable to attend or compete at the event due to family or other commitments over the weekend: your editor was unable to stay throughout the event but he and your chairman, who again lent his boat to a successful competitor, have provided the reports on the events.

The weekend came at the end of one of the best weeks, for weather, of the 2010 summer – a week of dry sunny and quite warm days though ones with probably not enough wind for exciting sailing. However the weather was certainly on the change whilst the competitors were registering for the event as the skies clouded over and a gentle breeze picked up and, as the day progressed, the spectators at least sought additional garments to add to the summery attire in which most had arrived. Conditions remained much like that for most of the Saturday and on the Sunday there was a further reduction in the temperature and an increase in the wind speed which built during the day. There were more spectators on that day and warm clothing was required on the balcony. However, as at last year’s event, they had the added bonus of seeing a fly past by the Red Arrows acrobatic formation. Are the Heron National championships considered to be an event worthy of an annual display or do they just coincide with some other event?

Unfortunately, for the first time – at least in recent memory – Priory SC had had an influx of weed which restricted sailing to the more northerly and westerly parts of the lake and made it a little tricky to sail into and out from the useable stretch of clear water. Fortunately the rescue boats were on hand to assist those who got stuck in the weed. They also saved a lot of time in the running of the races by collecting crews from boats after the running of a crewed race and before a single-handed one (Saturday morning and afternoon) and did the same again on the Sunday when the order of the paired races was reversed.

The weed situation caused some of the visitors to rethink their sailing style as they were advised by the Priory sailors to sail with only a maximum of half a centreboard plate and with the rudder raised so as to help shed any collected plant material. Many checked their rudder and plate often, usually at the end of a tack.

The host club were also generous in providing excellent catering throughout the event. A single charge was levied for participation in all the events and for all the meals and teas and coffees provided (or, a lesser one, for all the catering only for spectators) which meant that one was not always having to find and keep change. The lunches were refreshing and wholesome, the BBQ provided ample nourishment and there were lots of delectable ‘naughties’ to tempt those who felt that the exercise (or lack of it!) justified some desertion of recommended intakes and diets! Seriously, it was great!

The sun came out during the last race on the Sunday as the photos of both that race and the prize-giving ceremony (taken by Derek Dodd) clearly show.

The holding of this event now opens up the question of ‘what to do in future?’ Do the participants and other members feel that this is an experiment which should be continued and perhaps become a regular fixture in the Association’s calendar?

Crewed Championships

The crewed races were the first and third races on the Saturday and the second and fourth races on the Sunday.

The first race began with a false start – a general recall! On the restart the Hunt’s boat, Heron 7, appeared to get away best but, unfortunately, that was to be the end of their successes for the event. Not surprisingly, Andy Dale then took over the lead but, by the end of the first lap, around a triangular course, Tony Ogborn had taken over that position. These two – followed fairly closely by Lucie Hewitt from the home club - continued a close tussle for some time and, in the tricky conditions, they were almost lapping the last boats by the time they had completed their second laps. By the end of the third lap Andy had taken the lead and he finished ahead of Tony and Lucie who, with her brother Owen, was sailing in John Howard’s boat.

The breeze had picked up a little by the time of the second race and its direction had become more clearly established. Andy Dale soon got away from the rest of the fleet which appeared to divide into a number of sub-races, with Peter Moulton, Matthew Pickett and Rupert Keep forming the first bunch behind the leader. This was the order at the end of the second and third laps when the leading four finished well ahead of Tony Ogborn and Lucie Hewitt.

The third race was led by Lucie who had a great start, with Andy doing a 720 and going to the back of the fleet. This was after an encounter with Jon Hunt – Andy had not appreciated the latter’s speed (from a gust) when he had tacked onto starboard just in front of him. But by the end Andy was in front again for another win. Lucie held the second place, with Rupert Keep next and Alexander Johnson from Eyott fourth. After the race Andy said that it was the hardest one which he had taken part in: he took a rest before the final single-handed one that was scheduled next after the lunch break.

The last race had Jon Hunt looking forward to the stronger wind and expecting a better result than he had achieved to date. His start was good but, by the end of the beat, he turned round and started heading back to the club: the cause was a jib sheet that had had its cover shredded by the cleat, leaving only the core of the rope which was too small to hold. Obviously a point to remember! The eventual positions for the first four were similar to the previous race but with Tony Ogborn replacing Rupert in third spot.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4Pts
19891Andy DaleLewis CatonEyott SC11113
29890Lucie HewittOwen HewittPriory SC36227
310300Tony OgbornAntonia IllingworthPriory SC255310
410019Peter MoultonJohn DaleChipstead SC427511
58683Rupert KeepJosh PuddifootPriory SC743714
69812Matthew PickettClaire TabbUp River YC636DNS15
710061Alexander JohnsonGrace CatonEyott SC984416
810056Caroline BennettFlo ArmitagePriory SC51211622
92310Sally DenchfieldNigel DenchfieldStewartby SC879823
109381Joseph ButterworthMichael ButterworthEyott SC121110930
118184Gareth LewisScott LewisEyott SC119121030
127John HuntVerna HuntChipstead SCDNF108DNF33
1310048Carla BarberioThomas MullenPriory SC1013131134
148432Robert GoldsmithKaren GoldsmithChipstead SC131414DNS41

Single-handed Championship

These races followed the same courses as were set for the crewed races. The first one began with the unusual sight of Ez Pz, caught in irons or weed, and then Tony Ogborn appearing to be in last position. This state did not last for long but these two had a job on their hands catching up on the initial leaders, especially given some lulls in the otherwise gentle breeze: however Andy had got to the lead position by the middle of the second lap. By the end of that lap he was followed by Alexander Johnson (also from Eyott SC), Rupert Keep (from the home club) and Tony Ogborn – so the visiting and local ‘experts’ had, by this stage, re-established their prominence in the fleet! These three boats then juggled their positions during the third and fourth lap – during the latter of which the wind again dropped – with Tony eventually taking third position from Rupert.

Andy Dale also had an awkward beginning to the second race when he was over the line at the start gun. Lucy Hewitt led initially but had been passed by Peter Moulton by the end of the first lap. These two then stayed in the same positions for most of the rest of the race; they were followed by Matthew Pickett and Andy who had quickly worked his way past the rest of the fleet. It seemed that these were to be the finishing positions but Andy appeared to put a spurt on around the last two marks of the course and, with expert use of the rules, just passed Lucie before the finishing line to finish in second place behind Peter.

The third race was the start of activities on the Sunday morning so only the helms initially took to the water. After a beat up the lake, Lucie Hewitt led but was then chased downwind by Andy Dale to the mark nearest the club, a position that was reversed on the second lap and continued towards the end of the race. However Matt Pickett split the first two before the finish to come in second, with Alexander Johnson following in fourth place. After a poor start, due to a port and starboard situation on the line, Joseph Butterworth creditably managed to get away from the back of the fleet and pull up five places.

The final race was taken as a rest period by Andy Dale and others did the same, leaving only eight starters. Peter Moulton led for most of the race but, only a few lengths from the line, Alexander Johnson ‘stole’ the win. He had worked his way up through the fleet after doing turns further to an encounter, whilst tacking, with a fellow Eyott member, Gareth Lewis. Lucie Hewitt got another third place, making it a trio in a run in that position. Rupert Keep retired from this race due to an unfortunate breakage of the shackle attaching the halyard to the gaff; fortuitously this occurred at the windward mark on the first lap, enabling him to run home with the genoa only and replace the shackle before the start of the last crewed race.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4Pts
19891Andy DaleEyott SC121DNS4
210061Alexander JohnsonEyott SC25417
310019Peter MoultonChipstead SC61629
49890Lucie HewittPriory SC73339
59812Matthew PickettUp River YC542DNS11
610300Tony OgbornPriory SC375DNS15
78683Rupert KeepPriory SC467DNF17
82310Sally DenchfieldStewartby SC8911421
99381Joseph ButterworthEyott SC12108624
1010056Caroline BennettPriory SC9810724
118184Gareth LewisEyott SCDNF119525
1210048Carla BarberioPriory SC111313832
137John HuntChipstead SC101212DNS34

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