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Shadow National Championships at Gurnard Sailing Club

by Mike Martin 30 Jun 2014 22:22 BST 27-29 June 2014
Paul Tanner at the finish line during the Shadow nationals at Gurnard © Nick Hart

Gurnard Sailing Club, on the Isle of Wight, is home to the largest Shadow cat fleet in the country, and this year again played host to the Shadow National Championship.

The weather was just about perfect, with fresh wind and sun for all 3 days, and the event comprised 7 races with a single discard.

After a welcome to the visitors and briefing from PRO Steve Cole, the club's Rear Commodore Sailing, the 16-strong fleet sailed round the corner to the committee boat in nearby Thorness Bay for Friday's action. Class champ Robin Leather started in ominous style with a first race bullet, with lightweight Laurie Gustar and Carl Blenkinsop next to finish.

As the wind freshened for the second race the downwind sailing got more exciting and forced DNFs for 3 of the fleet before all sailed back to base for recovery and a pub supper.

Saturday started with slightly less breeze which soon freshened to be more of the same, with wind-over-tide giving a stiff chop outside the shelter of the bay.

Everyone knew their way round Thorness Bay by now and the day's 3 races were closely contested, especially downwind where large gains and losses could be made and speeds were at a maximum.

Leather was still putting bullets away but race 5 broke the sequence courtesy of a solid win by Jules Salter, followed by the ever-menacing Tanner whose series was shaping up well with a 2-3-2 after a quiet start on day 1.

A BBQ in the GSC clubhouse did its best to refuel tired bodies that evening, before the final 2 races off the club line on Sunday, in the company of a large fleet of juniors in Picos and Fevas.

Less breeze and a northerly slant gave Steve Cole some problems with course setting, but it all worked out fine with legs up and down the mainland shore seeing most of the action.

Besides Salter, Carl Blenkinsop was another who scored a win, in race 6, but an OCS early on and a retirement in race 7 meant his series was too uneven to assault the leader board.

The visitors' main criticism was of the dreaded Solent chop – it seems that they are used to sailing in 'real waves' in Eastbourne, Hayling and Largs - but the sailing was otherwise approved of and the discounted entry fee for 'overners' was much appreciated.

Congratulations to Robin Leather, our active class chairman who remains national champion after a dominant display. At the next level there is close competition especially in fresh breezes, with any one of half a dozen boats capable of doing well. Of these, Paul Tanner, newly returned to the class, put together the best set of results to go second and Laurie Gustar third overall.

Thanks go to Gurnard SC for organising such perfect weather, and particularly to the efficiency of Steve Cole and his team on the water for providing the fleet with great racing, and also chasing down that errant windward mark and doing a sterling job overall.

In winding up a splendid event the prizes included a club burgee for the most distant visitor for Glenn Andrews (Largs – turn left at Alpha Centauri) and the lady's award to Elaine 'Yellow Sail' Phillips from Hayling Ferry.

Overall Results:

1R LeatherGurnard 1111‑4318
2P TannerGurnard 5(DNF)2322317
3L GustarGurnard 245(OCS)54727
4M MartinGurnard 353566‑828
5C BlenkinsopGurnard (OCS)34231RAF30
6I MooreGurnard 427‑875530
7J SalterGurnard (DNC)DNC64111443
8T WyethGurnard 769789‑1146
9P MooreGurnard 1181310(DNF)7958
10G TomlinEastbourne6(DNF)861013DNF60
11M JenkinsonGurnard 97121111‑141060
12D DownerGurnard (DNF)DNS101298662
13G AndrewsLargs SC8(DNF)119DNF121269
14P BowenGurnard (DNS)DNSDNSDNSDNS10280
15Pete BowenGurnard 109(DNF)DNSDNSDNSDNS87
16E PhilipsHayling Ferry12(DNF)DNFDNFDNFDNFDNF97

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