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Shearwater National Championships at Newhaven & Seaford Sailing Club

by Shaun Allen and Catherine Tulley 30 Aug 2012 12:30 BST 18-24 August 2012
Shearwater nationals at Newhaven & Seaford SC © Michelle Smith

The 56th annual Shearwater National Championships were held at Newhaven & Seaford Sailing Club. An eight race series, with practice race, were held over a week. This year's competition 18 competing boats, including a new 2012 boat.

After scrutineering in the sunshine on Saturday, the practice race was held on the Sunday, in light south westerly winds. Defending Champions, Shaun Allen and Claire Robinson on Carbon Footprint, led the fleet from the start, only to be overhauled on the final beat by Nick and Kerry Elliot on Cajensa, and Ben Farnborough and Jenny Allen on Genesis.

The first Championship Race began at 11.05hrs on Monday morning, in bright sunshine and another light south westerly. Nigel and Sarah Stuart on Simsek were first to the windward mark, with Alan Howland and Rob Britten on Alley Cat following Barry Duck and Charlotte Auld on New Flame. On the second beat Carbon Footprint made use of the ebbing tide to break away from the pack and close down Simsek, overhauling them on the final downwind leg, before taking the gun.

After a short break ashore, Race 2 commenced in the same light conditions. Carbon Footprint with Grace and Derek Williams on UFO were over the line at the start gun, having to return round the ends to start again. Dion and Anna Allen on Take5 were first to the windward mark, to develop a commanding lead to the final gun, with Simsek and Murray Greenhill and Ben Aspen on Dilligaf leading the pack home.

Tuesday morning brought Race 3, a light southerly breeze, and blazing sunshine. Simsek lead the fleet to the windward mark, with Darren and Catherine Tulley on Shear Flambouyance, in close company, Alley Cat and Carbon Footprint leading the rest of the fleet. Taking advantage of clear air, and tide where possible, Carbon Footprint was able to close on Simsek, and finally take the win, with only centimetres separating the two boats after ninety minutes racing.

The afternoon provided the same wind conditions for Race 4, and Genesis establishing a commanding lead over Carbon Footprint and Simsek, with Cajensa and UFO in the vanguard of the pack. By the penultimate lap, Carbon Footprint and Simsek had closed on Genesis, with Carbon Footprint pulling clear on the final short beat to the line, and final gun. Again another incredible close race that was amazing to watch from both the race circuit and the shore.

Wednesday morning brought Race 5 in a strong South Westerly, of the same Beaufort scale. Wind against tide added a difficult sea to contend with. Genesis, Simsek, and Greg Wilcox and Nick Winram on Airflow established an initial lead from the start. Carbon Footprint found an easier path through the waves, and was able to pull away Genesis and Simsek, consolidating a commanding lead from the wing mark, and second reach. This they protected until the final gun.

The afternoon, and Race 6, brought increasing gusty wind and bigger waves. A busy start line was momentarily confused when Alex Wilcox and Joe Hill on Foreigner capsized just after the gun. They were able to quickly right the boat and continue racing, being only slightly wetter than than the rest of the fleet. Genesis and Simsek established an early lead, keeping Carbon Footprint at bay with superior off-wind speed on the very exciting reaches. Matt Wiseman and Zack Holt on Caned and Unable, closing on Carbon Footprint following a near terminal pitch-pole on the first reach. Despite this Carbon Footprint was able to close the leaders on the upwind legs, and made significant gains on the three sail down wind runs. This was where all competitors experienced varying degrees of adrenaline levels dropping spinnakers while surfing down waves. Carbon Footprint eventually establishing a narrow lead, and taking the win.

Thursday morning, in contrast to the previous day, brought a return to the bright blue skies and gentle southerly's, seen at the start of the week. The first beat of Race 7 saw Simsek in the lead, followed closely by Genesis, James and Kate Gibbons on So Tango, Cajensa, and Shear Flambouyance. Simsek and Genesis, displaying superior speed on the three sail reaches, pulled away from the now chasing Carbon Footprint and Take5. Simsek covering their lead to take the final gun.

Thursday afternoon brought the highly contested Crews Race, this race is for those Crews who have never helmed in a Championship series get the opportunity to develop their experience at the helm. In the light southerly airs, Sarah Stuart and Darren Tulley were quickly away, and first to the windward mark. Their lead was constantly eroded by Jenny Allen and Ben Farnborough on Genesis, Anna Allen and Dion Allen on Take5. The latter lead the pack until the final downwind leg, where they were able to pull away. Eventually overhauling Sarah Stuart on Shear Flambouyance to take the win.

Friday morning brought Race 8 of the Championship, with bright sunshine and a light south westerly. Take 5 was clear away at the start, followed by Carbon Footprint. Simsek, Genesis and Alley Cat leading the rest. By the penultimate beat these three had overhauled Carbon Footprint, with Genesis and Simsek constantly vying for position, with constant place changes happening at every mark. At the end of the final down wind leg Alley Cat was able to close in on the battling Simsek and Genesis, but neither were able to catch Take5 on the final beat to the finish.

Congratulations to Shaun Allen and Claire Robinson on Carbon Footprint, who retained their National Championship title for the third year in succession. An impressive achievement in itself, made more so by the largely light wind conditions, and standard of competition across the entire fleet. Particular thanks must go to Newhaven & Seaford Sailing Club, and especially Rupert and Michelle Smith, for amazing hospitality, a lively social schedule, and excellent facilities for sailors, and their families and supporters ashore who also enjoyed a fabulous week.

Overall Results:
If you finished in the top ten at the Shearwater nationals then enter your Gear Guide information here

PosBoat NameSail NoHelmCrewR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8Pts
1Carbon Footprint1999Shaun AllenClaire Robinson151111438
2Simsek2007Nigel StuartSarah Stuart9223331614
3Genesis1990Ben FarnboroughJenny Allen8632222415
4Alley Cat2006Alan HowlandRob Britten23544206220
5Take52005Dion AllenAnna Allen51768203123
6Shear Flambouyance2008Darren TulleyCatherine Tulley31045558729
7Dilligaf2003Murray GreenhillBen Aspen114686197839
8Cajensa1976Nick ElliottKerry Elliott7811992011549
9UFO2004Grace WilliamsDerek Williams64101072091249
10So Tango2009Jamie GibbonsKate Gibbons1013811.5132051057.5
11Airflow1989Greg WilcoxNick Winram12111219126121164
12New Flame2000Barry DuckCharlotte Auld4914161620131369
13Foreigner1988Alex WilcoxJoe Hill15121519107151774
14Caned & Unable1987Matt WisemanZack New2020137114202075
15Cosmic Shear1993Nick BristowChris Rivers2016915192010978
16Orwell1984Richard HillGary Hill131416131420141482
17Simply Red1980Richard PlayfordPeter Sharrod141517141519161589
18China Crisis2002Rob HamiltonTayla Playford16171811.51720171694

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