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Devon Yawl National Championship at Yealm Yacht Club

by Alan Winton 14 Jun 2013 09:15 BST 8–9 June 2013

This one got ticks in almost all the boxes. Set in an Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty the River Yealm and Wembury Bay are hard to beat for a venue. This, combined with efficient and hospitable organisation by members of the Yealm Yacht Club, both on and off-the-water, set the scene for an intense, very competitive and demanding championship.

32 boats came out of the River Yealm into Wembury Bay on Saturday morning, with none of the racing marks laid. The Principal Racing Officer was struggling with a Committee Boat dragging its anchor, and trying to cope with rising, shifting Easterly winds of 17 -22 knots, and severe gusts in excess of 30 knots.

After moving the windward mark three times, and laying the inner distance mark at the last possible moment, the fleet got off to what turned out to be no ordinary championship. The fleet remained tightly-bunched for all five races. Boats criss-crossed in close proximity on the windward legs; and it was not uncommon to have a raft of six boats rounding the leeward marks. Competition was enhanced by three challenges. Firstly, the winds were not just strong, but fickle: ten degree shifts were de rigeur; twenty, even thirty-forty degree shifts played havoc. Secondly, as the wind came out of the mouth of the River Yealm it twisted around the cliffs and it was not clear which way to go up the beat. Thirdly, under blue skies and with temperatures in the twenties, when the land heated up inshore breezes faded and sea breezes offshore strengthened.

Close examination of the results is revealing. There was not a lot of consistency: clear evidence of how tight the racing was. However, three boats were impressive: Dan Fellows and Clare from Yealm Yacht Club in DY54 Devon Blue, in spite of suffering a broken rudder blade before the start of the first race, were very fast up-wind, and were convincing new National Champions: “Once Dan gets away you can’t catch him” said Tim Pettit the defending champion (also YYC) in DY186 Mistletoe, who continued to demonstrate very high boat speed; enough to just overhaul former champion Andrew Hattersley from Topsham Sailing Club in DY184 Amadeus.

Overall, it was a memorable and successful championship with much evidence of very high standards of racing. The starting lines were always tightly-packed; but there was only one over-the-line recall during the event. There were certainly many “incidents” on the water; but only one Protest: handled very professionally. In general, there was a lot of mutual respect and camaraderie among members of the Devon Yawl fleet who much appreciated the contributions of members of the Yealm Yacht Club.

Top Six Results

Winner: Dan Fellows and Clare in Devon Blue DY54 Yealm Y.C.
Second: Tim Pettit and Tony Calcut in Mistletoe DY186 Yealm YC
Third: Andrew Hattersley and Willie Hamilton in Amadeus DY184 Topsham S.C.
Fourth: Richard Babbage and Mark Trout in Bloo Note DY 100 Topsham S.C.
Fifth: Andy and Victoria Williams in Limosa DY354 Yealm Y.C.
Sixth: Andrew wood and Zoe Sayers in Freya DY330 Salcombe S.C.

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