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Vortex National Championships at Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club

by Jonathan Lister 18 Sep 2012 14:14 BST 15-16 September 2012
Vortex National Championships 2012 © Ian Smith

On Saturday morning the locals described the conditions as "a gentle breeze", but several visitors (hailing from as far afield as Glasgow, Exeter and the Medway) thought the description should have been something closer to "ballistic". To be fair, Race Officer Mike Saul did offer to postpone for a while to see if conditions would ease a little, but the majority of the fleet (or those with the loudest voices?) were keen to go racing, so off we went.

By the time we got on the water the wind had dropped to a remarkably steady Westerly F5. A simple windward-leeward course was set over the full length of the reservoir and the fleet got away cleanly at the first attempt. Terry Pressdee who hasn't sailed a Vortex for a while had borrowed a boat for this event and shot off up the first beat like a scalded cat, leaving the regulars to wonder what Terry had sprinkled on his breakfast porridge and where we could get some!

After a couple of laps there was a clean separation between a leading group of locals fighting it out between themselves and the visitors gamely trying to keep up. Terry's early lead proved unassailable and he took a decisive and well-deserved win from Phil Whitehead and Ian Craven who both passed Jonathan Lister who's lame excuse was jet-lag having just flown back from the USA. The wind had now increased again and the fleet were sent ashore for a welcome rest.

After fortification from the excellent galley the Race Officer resumed station and a somewhat reduced fleet took up the challenge. This time Ian Craven aced the start and first beat, leading for a lap until an untidy gybe led to an hourglass kite and Jonathan Lister stepped into the lead. A royal battle for second place ensued between Ian, Phil and Terry, allowing Jonathan to extend his lead with Phil eventually grabbing second place.

Reigning champion Phil decided that he needed to start to stamp his authority on the event and muscled his way into the lead at the start of race 3 with Keith Escritt in hot pursuit. Things got rather lively as the wind strength increased still further and to be very candid this reporter was concentrating on keeping the mast pointing at the sky and rather lost track of the fine details of who was where in the fleet.

As the carnage level increased Terry retired with a malfunctioning mainsheet jammer, Keith and Ian had at least one swim and Jonathan's kite decided to hourglass on every hoist and many gybe's turning the downwind legs into gybe practice sessions. At the finish it was somehow amazingly close with Phil taking his first bullet a boat-length ahead of Jonathan and Ian just ahead of Keith.

Hats off to everyone that finished that rather demanding race; interestingly their finishing positions happened to be a perfect predictor of the overall results. That evening the fleet repaired to the Craven Arms in Appletreewick to swap stories of the days hair raising escapades and ease their aches and pains with a few pints of excellent locally brewed anesthetic.

Sunday dawned cloudier and less windy. As the F2 wind swung slightly South it became shiftier and less steady giving the light wind specialists a chance to shine. Neil Spink made the early running in race 4 with Keith Escritt also getting synchronised with the shifts. Terry had a late start and was on a charge; however it was "lucky" Phil that sniffed out the F3 gust downwind and took the lead on lap 3 and held it to the end with Keith in second.

Race 5 would prove to be the decider - Terry and Jonathan could still challenge for the title if they won the race with Phil in third or worse. Jonathan won the start at the pin end and tacked to cross the fleet on port.. however after some delay was informed that he had been OCS and had to pop the kite to return to the start line just as Mike Gower slipped around the windward mark in the lead with Phil, Keith and Ian in pursuit. Phil went on to win from Keith and Mike with Terry retiring due to a collapsed main sheet turret and Jonathan scrabbling back through the fleet as the wind increased but only managing a fifth and effectively handing the title to Phil.

After an excellent lunch the wind came back and the final race started in a gusty F4/F5. Keith and Jonathan won the start and made the early pace, with Ian Craven in close contention. There were incidents aplenty in this race; Phil was held up by some start-line shenanigans, the windward mark drifted several times and needed to be re-positioned as the leaders approached, there were some rather close shaves with the club races that were now sharing the same stretch of water and some healthy dollops of wind thrown in for good measure.

Jonathan took the lead from Keith on the second beat as they played "spot the windward mark", but Keith went faster and deeper downwind and pushed Jonathan the wrong side of a capsized boat to regain the lead, only to rush his kite drop and touch a mark letting Jonathan through and Ian Craven into second. Phil could discard this result but had a point to make and was picking off boats on every lap, but when the final whistle blew it was Jonathan from Ian with Phil storming through to third and Keith in fourth.

The final podium positions were Phil, Jonathan, Ian, Keith all from the home club and Jonathan Carter from Rickmansworth the top visitor in fifth. Yet again the Vortex Nationals provided a heady mixture of adrenaline fuelled white knuckle sailing, extremely close racing, many stories to savour and a memorable social evening. The event was run superbly by the Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club and we are extremely grateful for their hospitality, fabulous catering and most especially the "gentle breezes".

More photos are available

Overall Results:

PosSail NoClubHelmR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1st1045Yorkshire DalesPhil Whitehead22111‑37
2nd1164Yorkshire DalesJonathan Lister4123‑5111
3rd1160Yorkshire DalesIan Craven343‑74216
4th1183Yorkshire DalesKeith Escritt5‑8422417
5th1153RickmansworthJonathan Carter665(DNS)6528
6th1181Castle SempleAngus Winchester‑1056107836
7th1175BramptonAlec Glendinning‑1310798943
8th1193Yorkshire DalesTerence Presdee13(DNF)5DNFDNC45
9th1013MedwayMike Gower12(DNC)DNC83748
10th1048Yorkshire DalesNeil Spink9(DNC)DNC4DNF655
11th1145Yorkshire DalesPeter Sedgwick159(DNC)15101059
12th1066PennineEd Corteen117(DNC)1612DNC64
13th1174Yorkshire DalesBen Murrell7(DNC)DNC6DNFDNF67
14th1117Yorkshire DalesMike Collins(DNS)DNCDNC1191268
15th1041Yorkshire DalesAndrew Straton14(DNC)DNC1211DNC73
16th1123DraycoteDave Hotten(DNS)DNCDNC14131174
17th1152LympstoneJim Trice8(DNF)DNC13DNFDNC75

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