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Devon Yawl National Championship at Parkstone Yacht Club

by Andrew Hattersley 14 Jul 2015 08:28 BST 11-12 July 2015

Parkstone Yacht Club hosted the 2015 Devon Yawl nationals on 11th and 12th July in excellent fresh oscillating winds in Poole Harbour. There were a disappointing 12 entries enjoying this superbly run event possibly reflecting the move East from Devon where the major club fleets are based. Topsham Sailing club were the best represented with 4 entries but surprisingly there was only a single entry from the Yealm Yacht Club where as many as 23 boats have started a club race this year.

Race 1 - The first race was sailed in a force 2 to 3. Tidecatcher sailed by Dan Ellis and James Gough-Allen and Mistletoe sailed by Tim Petitt and Tony Callcut got away well off the start line and inexorably pulled out from the fleet. Although it was close Tidecatcher looked comfortable in first place. Behind these two Amadeus (Andrew Hattersley and Willie Hamilton) recovered from a bad first beat to just take third place from Kim Vasey and Joe Wellerd in DY1.

Race 2 - The wind freshened for the second race Ed Williams and Shane Buckley in Yaw'l White led at the first mark but were hauled in and passed by Tidecatcher downwind who used techniques more usually seen in a Laser than a Devon Yawl with very good effect. Behind these were Mistletoe and Amadeus who recovered from last place after their main fell down on the first beat.

Race 3 - The wind continued to increase in the afternoon and the third race started in a force 5 with gusts of force 6 which saw the Devon Yawls planning in the short waves. The main hazard was the low water which meant boats were beating with raised centre boards and still hitting the bottom. Heavy weather experts Andrew Hattersley and Willie Hamilton in Amadeus led off the line and pulled out a commanding lead only to see their kicking strap attachment on the boom shatter as they bore away round the top mark. Yaw'l White showed good speed but missed the gate on the second beat, while in the lead, leaving Tidecatcher to win from Mistletoe while Amadeus did well to finish third with no kicking strap.

Race 4 - The sun of Saturday had disappeared on Sunday morning but the strong winds remained. Amadeus led off the line and rounded the windward mark with a clear lead only to see Tidecatcher surge past downwind. Once in the lead Dan Ellis made no mistake and never looked likely to let Amadeus through. Mike Bennett and Neil Drew in Two's company took advantage of Goose Wing (Richard and Nigel Watsham) and Simply Red (James and Bella McNaughton) closely covering each other to take third place on the short final beat.

Race 5 - By race 5 Tidecatcher in an unassailable positon so the battle was for the other podium positions. Tidecatcher led by the first mark and was never threatened. Amadeus consolidated the runner-up slot by a convincing second from Yaw'l White. Goose Wing's consistency in fourth place saw him take third place overall.

The main talking point was Tidecatcher, the first boat from Pennant Yachts re-tooled moulds. She looked stunning, appeared to float high in the water and certainly flew down wind. The boat was beautifully finished and the control lines arranged to allow comprehensive sail adjustment while racing. It was a far cry from the finish of previous builder and is a positive step for the class. The new boat was certainly very fast in the hands of Dan Ellis who has won national championships in the Mirror class, sailed in the youth squad and is now at the top of the International Moth class but can clearly make a non foiling yawl sail fast too!.

The sailmakers shared honours with the top boats using Ulman, Exe Sails, Westerways and MacNamara. Although sails from Ulman were used by the winners their sails were scattered throughout the fleet so in these conditions it was sail handling not the sails that made the difference. One challenge is to have a well setting jib that allows a clear slot with many sails including the Ullmans looking too full;. Newcomers Exe Sails have produced a lovely looking jib, helped by employing Michael MacNamara's former sailmaker!

Richard and Nigel Watsham fully deserved their third place with consistent sailing and keeping their boat in one piece. Others were less fortunate: Tim Petit had to pack up on Saturday evening when in second place when his rudder stock shattered when he ran aground coming in after the racing and Ed Williams missed the start of Sunday's race removing his changes of a top three finish. The advantages of regular close class racing were seen with all 4 Topsham boats in the top 6 places. Finally special mention should go to young, petite, Bella McNaughton James. who crewed superbly for her dad James and despite weighing under half most of the other crews never flinched in the tough conditions helping Red Alert take 5th place.

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

PosSail NoHelmCrewR1R2R3R4R5Pts
1stDY383Dan EllisJames Gough‑Allen‑111114
2ndDY184Andrew HattersleyWillie Hamilton3‑432210
3rdDY171Richard WatshamNigel Watsham‑7644418
4thDY186Tim PetittTony Callcut232(DNC)DNC20
5thDY96James McNaughtonBecca McNaughton65‑75622
6thDY351Ed Williams‑HawkesShane Buckley52(RTD)DNC323
7thDY102Mike BennettNeil Drew99(RTD)3526
8thDY1Kim VaseyJoe Wellerd475(DNC)DNC29
9thDY12Adrian BullGilbert Snook10‑1166729
10thDY346Nick MortonMatt Buckle888(DNC)DNC37
11thDY336Keith FullerJeanette Fuller1110(RTD)DNCDNC47
12thDY45John BaitesAlan Coles1212(RTD)DNCDNC50