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Shadow National Championships at Minnis Bay Sailing Club

by Mike Martin 8 Sep 2011 10:58 BST 2-4 September 2011

Another Shadow Nationals, another visit to the excellent Minnis Bay Sailing Club to share an event with the Spitfires, as in 2009. With 8 races scheduled over the 3 days, Friday’s perfect sunny day promised well with just one drawback – not enough wind.

After a postponement a couple of ice creams long a faint breeze lifted the seaside flags and the racing was on. Carl Blenkinsop and Mike Martin picked their way from wind patch to wind patch to score a bullet each in the 2 races run, the second of these being notable in providing a leeward-leeward course as the wind switched round at the last buoy to give a spinnaker finish. Robin Leather was looking ominously consistent with a pair of second places, with Olly Harris close behind.

Saturday was a similarly perfect sunbathing day, designed to give race officers headaches as the faint wind swung this way and that.

Decisive action by the PRO in abandoning and restarting one race, and smart buoy moving by the Minnis Bay team produced 2 completed races out of 3 – a good result, considering the taxing wind conditions.

Nick Hart was Mr. Consistent with two 3rds as Robin, Olly and Paul Tanner all sailed one discard each, leaving Olly with some work to do to challenge Robin who led him by 6 points at that stage.

As the sailors tucked into a delicious hog roast in the clubhouse and got about their AGM business on Saturday evening the weather gave warning of change, with a burst of rain and more wind forecast for Sunday.

Sure enough, Sunday produced a brisk 15 knots of wind against tide. This showed the Shadow at its best with the big spinnaker doing its stuff downwind as the laps rattled off – but the revised programme of 4 races back-to-back proved a step too far for some.

Olly Harris came on the attack with a win in race 5 but a swim and DNC in the next made his challenge hard work, as Robin was still clocking in firsts and seconds.

Carl Blenkinsop had put together a solid series with no placing below 4th which secured him the last podium place.

Paul Tanner scored a win in race 6 in his preferred conditions but the earlier light weather had not been kind to his chances overall.

There were only 3 takers for the final race – but we mustn’t begrudge the race officer the satisfaction of putting on all 8 races after the travails of Friday and Saturday.

Robin Leather took the title with a consistent performance in a contest where the top 3 finishers all scored 2 wins each, and the next 2 also scored a win apiece. By no means a walkover, and also a hugely enjoyable event for all the visitors. Except perhaps for Graham Tomblin, who had to endure the bad news – good news of losing and later finding his wallet and was awarded a bottle of plonk to calm his shattered nerves.

The pro-am cup (rather bigger and more impressive than the champion’s) was borne back to the Isle of Wight by Tony Wyeth and Mike Martin.

After the prizegiving, class chairman Paul Tanner thanked Minnis Bay Sailing Club for doing a cracking job in all departments, from the cheerful team of Nigellas in the galley to the PRO Nick Field and his guys on the water. Special thanks too from Robin for the Sea Scouts’ assistance with trolleys on the long beach hauls – a nice touch much appreciated by a single-handed class.


1 Robin Leather (Gurnard SC) – 10 points
2 Olly Harris (Weston SC) – 13
3 Carl Blenkinsop (Gurnard SC) – 16
4 Mike Martin (Gurnard SC) – 21
5 Paul Tanner (Gurnard SC) – 23
6 Rob Forrester (Weston SC) – 32
7 Nick Hart (Eastbourne Sovereign SC) – 33
8 Tony Wyeth (Gurnard SC) – 39
9 Graham Tomblin (Eastbourne Sovereign SC) – 51
10 Chas Bedford – (Isle of Sheppey SC) – 56
11 Nick Henson (Weston SC) – 72
12 Bruce Vigar (Isle of SheppeySC) - 78

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