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Dart National Championships at Thames Estuary Yacht Club

by Ian Charnock 28 Sep 2011 08:29 BST 10-11 September 2011

The Dart 16 Nationals returned to South Essex this year as Thames Estuary Yacht Club hosted the event on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th of September. 12 boats entered this year’s National Championships, with one of them being returning champion Frank Riddle with new crew Jerry Robinson hoping to defend his title.

Varying weather conditions loomed over Saturday’s racing, with predicted wind speeds differing between 6 and 25 mph. However racing still went ahead and in slow winds, Nigel Manning won the inaugural race of the weekend putting his marker down as the man to beat, followed by George Caten then Neil Charnock, with over half the fleet being timed out at the end.

With wind speeds dying, the second race was postponed until 13:00, when wind speeds were supposed to quicken. As predicted, the second race took place with better conditions and Manning won the second race, leading G. Caten then Zoe Ager-Lowden in 2nd & 3rd. So the overnight top 3 were as follows: In 3rd place was the experienced father & son team of Neil & Jonathan Charnock. Just ahead of them in 2nd place were the impressive 16-year-old George Caten & David Brooks in their first year as a partnership. However they were denied a perfect start by Nigel Manning & Julie Hughes who stormed to the overnight lead.

Day 2 came around and weather conditions were greatly improved with many crews hoping to improve on their overnight positions. One of these boats was Tim McNally with crew Roy Nunn, and they duly obliged in the 3rd race of the weekend, winning the 3rd race, beating Manning & Ager-Lowden into 2nd & 3rd place.

With conditions affecting everyone’s racing, the 4th race produced the most surprising result of the weekend, as swirling winds caused a major incident at the first mark. With only a handful of boats managing to make it round without being caught up in the mess, McNally held the lead and secured the win, finishing in front of Charnock and Andy Robertson, and overnight leader Manning finished in 8th. It was also the only race of the weekend were all the boats managed to finish the race.

Race 5 took place with winds at its strongest, and McNally continued his impressive form by winning the race, followed over the line by Charnock then Robertson. Nearly all of the fleet were caught out by the winds, with Joshua Rae and reigning champion Riddle capsizing, and Ager-Lowden and David Caten forced to retire completely due to equipment failure.

However the most impressive capsize of the day was saved until the last race, when G. Caten, whose form had dipped somewhat over the second day, pitch poled on the first lap, meaning he finished 10th to cap off what had been a disappointing second day for him. However, holding off a late fight back from Manning, McNally finished off the weekend with a win, with Manning & Charnock completing the top 3.

So after 6 brilliant races, all the points were counted and the top 3 finished as follows: The Charnock team managed to hold onto 3rd place overall, unfortunately not being able to improve on last year’s 2nd place. In 2nd place came Manning & Hughes who would’ve been disappointed following their strong start. But in 1st place came McNally & Nunn who won their first ever Nationals Title.

Every year we’ve enjoyed hosting this event and we thank everyone for coming down and creating a fantastic event for everyone to see. It looks as if the Nationals will be being held elsewhere next year and we wish them all the best with hosting them!

Overall Results:

1st Tim McNally & Roy Nunn
2nd Nigel Manning & Julie Hughes
3rd Neil & Jonathan Charnock
4th George Caten & David Brooks Joint
5th= Frank Riddle & Jerry Robinson
5th= Andy & Melanie Robertson
7th= Joshua Rae & Bob Sporle 7th= Zoe Ager-Lowden & Abi McNally
9th Harrison Owens & Ted Newton
10th= Alan & Viv Edlin
10th= Barry & Linda Jeffs
12th David & Stephanie Caten

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