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40th Dart 18 National Championship at Stokes Bay Sailing Club

by David Groom 4 Jun 2016 15:06 BST 28-31 May 2016

The 40th Dart 18 Nationals sponsored by GJW insurance, Andark Diving and Watersports, Mill and Bank Solicitors and Windsport was held over the recent May Bank Holiday weekend hosted by Stokes Bay Sailing Club, Gosport.

The pertinent question is was it the best Dart 18 Nationals ever?

61 Teams entered, many arriving on the Friday, to contest what was the major UK event of this the largest UK Catamaran Classes 40th Anniversary year. Attendees came from near and far including Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and mainland Europe.

Many blasts from the past (who are still going strong) were there including Joffan Garka who has the everlasting honour of being the first helm to reach the windward mark of the first ever Dart Nationals, local heroes Chris and Gary Moore and the evergreen David Lloyd who has seemingly been competing and winning in the class since time immemorial.. Other famous names including John Tuckwell, Lawrie Draper and Stuart Snell could not keep away and came to say hello.

The more seasoned warriors were balanced by the increasing youth element within the fleet including on this occasion Caleb Cooper who bravely sailed single handed and Chloe and William Stuart from the Shearwater Class who had come along to experience racing in a big fleet in a far more modern catamaran than they are used to.

After an informal Friday night welcome drink in the Clubhouse followed by a lengthier drink in the now well established camper van city central entertainment plaza a book was run by Mike Gomme on who was going to be first between various teams. Gambling law and fear of litigation stop the outcomes being reported further. Allegedly other competitive sports also took place in and around the plaza including snail racing and the Stokes Bay recycling bins were soon filled up to the brim with bottles and cans and barbeque detritus.

On the first day it was sunny with the wind, or more honestly multiple winds, from the North straight offshore. Race Officer Carl Downing held an on time no nonsense briefing from which it became clear that military efficiency would apply on the water over the event.

The wind was stronger than expected allowing more than the anticipated single race to take place. In fact two races were held with much place changing within the fleet and no common thinking on what was the best route upwind or downwind on the windward leeward courses set from near the main channel towards a windward mark very near the shore. Tens of places could be gained or lost in the last fifty metres to the mark.

At the end of the day the positions were David Lloyd and Tori Akhurst first, Dan Norman and Alysian Monkman second and Dave and Louise Roberts third. To these should be added the names Barry Peters and Olly Stuart for winning Race Two – a distinct improvement on their 30th in Race One- Joffan Garka for gaining the evidence of at least two comings together on his brand new out of its wrappings that morning boat and Robby-Jon Garka for announcing, in an amazingly cheerfull manner to those around him, how he seemed to be in last place in Race Two.

Following a well-earned rest for much of the afternoon complete with barbeques, beer, Prosecco and Pimms the annual UKIDA AGM took place with lengthy discussions on various issues with the length of the debate added to by the views of non - members one of whom was not even a Dart let alone a catamaran sailor! Congratulations to Sean O'Connor for being elected the new Chairman and Geoff Lloyd for finishing his four year stretch as Chairman. Drinking and Dancing then began and carried on till late following a complimentary Mexican evening meal with music provided by the band Fine Southern Gents.

Following day the fleet again launched on time to be greeted with very similar conditions to the day before but, at times, slightly stronger variable winds. Familiar faces at the front to which can be added Paul Chatfield sailing the Windsport boat who won Race Four to the horror of one of the front runners who commented that this was not fair being the result of a sneaky lift and that he did not deserve it! In truth all competitors at one point could have either commented or been commented about in a similar way and even the top helms said you could not call the shifts and wind bands so varied were they. One constant comment was that wind was winning out over tide on all occasions. Day Two ended with the top three as per the day before.

Post another lengthy social in the afternoon sun Sunday evening was the now annual fleet games night extravaganza with all competitors taking part in various activities including Dart throwing (pub variety not boats), knocking coconuts off stands, knocking nails into a log (surprisingly popular and well attended due to alcoholic penalties for missing the nails) a two up team wellington race and catapulting eggs into the Solent aiming to hit a mark. Bit of a mystery why they did not use pebbles from the beach for this one.

All the winners of these activities then took part in the grand final which involved emptying a tissue box using one hand as quickly as possible. Youth showed its advantages on this one with the final being won by a beaming Ellis Yorkshire who now has to decide who will join him at the weekend long Windsport training event he won as his prize. It is understood brown envelopes will be taken into account when making this decision.

Day three brought, as promised, far stronger winds but again unfortunately from the North leading to ominous random patterns on the water being clearly evident all over the Solent. Fast and at times furious reaching got all competitors to the start line on time and Race Five commenced. The racing continued fast and furious with the boats smashing at great speed upwind through the waves looking for those elusive gusts or lifts that could gain them many boat spaces in minutes if not seconds. The approach speeds into the windward mark were at time frightening not helped by the fact that in the first lap a nameless Team capsized on the windwark mark having approached it like a Headless chicken and then remained stuck to it.

The run (broad reaching) to the gate was equally exciting although the reaches towards the IOW were extremely bumpy, uncomfortable and wet. On the whole going right upwind and left downwind was paying off in principle although considerable variations in terms of speed and angles were constantly apparent. Race winners were David Lloyd and Tori Akhurst and Dan and Jenny Kilsby both from Stokes Bay. Mention should be given to Sean O'Connor and His wife Helen for demonstrating how far an unstayed Dart mast can bend without breaking, James Kundert and his crew and the Shearwater youths who both enjoyed capsizing so much they both did it more than once! And various fishermen, cruiser and gin palace owners who learnt new words and expressions when they decided to mix it with the fleet rather than use another part of the Solent.

That night was the big party night (Togas optional) beginning with a breezy Pimms Reception on the roof terrace hosted by Jess Walton, Rachel Foster and Lin Wilson during which ex UKIDA Chairman and long terms Dart Sailor Lawrie Draper was well deservedly presented with the Kim Stephens trophy for exceptional service to the Class. This was followed by an excellent complimentary Greek meal and then dancing to Ubermeiister, a very loud but very very good band.

Many Togas were to be seen, some of which were far too small, together with roman soldiers, a lion and a west country Asterix and Obelix complete with stone, winged helmet and dog. The partying was hard and long including dancing? to the boating song of the non-Eton variety with those taking part buoyed up with the thought that the final day racing was likely to be canned.

The final days racing was canned (luckily for many) with 30 plus knot gusts forecast and the one Dart 18 that ventured on a crew collection run from the IOW helmed by Sprint 15 supremo Paul Grattage breaking its mast on the way back. His crew, fellow Sprint 15 expert Liam Thom, phoned up and said do not trouble the lifeboat we are being blown back to our starting point and Paul subsequently changed masts and sailed back. He did admit it had been somewhat challenging. De rigging was achieved in the last of the dry weather before the heavy rain that broke the run of fine weather over the weekend to date.

Overall the event was won by David Lloyd and Tori Akhurst (surely now in with a very good chance of winning the Worlds later this year) with David congratulating her for her sailing brain and her help particularly in trimming the main that his arm injuries had prevented him doing. (The rumour that the injuries were a result of sticking to many company logos on competitors mains are probably unfounded). Second were Dan Norman and Alysia Moinkman with Dave and Louise Roberts coming third.

Handicap prizes went to Tom Kelley and Charlie, followed by Kenny Watson and Drew Young and James and Howard Head with Kenny and Drew also picking up the moo comer (highest place at first Nationals) award. The Masters went to Germany being won by Florian and Adrian Bleisch and the first lady helm was won by Sarah Knott and the youth prize by Caleb Cooper. The highest place pro-am pairing was Kenny Watson and Drew Young and James and Howard Head with the capsize trophy (lifebelt) going to Chloe and William Stuart and the last place who finished every race Matt Cooper who also won a much needed? training course at Windsport.

Stokes Bay were awarded the Garka painting as a thanks for running the event and all winners were told they were not taking their trophies home due to a mammoth trophy renovation task the Committee are commencing.

Finally Brian Phipps was given a very worthy honorary membership of the Dart 18 Association.

Thanks have to be given to Race Officer Carl Downing and his amazing on the water Team who were so incredibly efficient/scary that all races held started on time, there were no postponements and uniquely in the annals of 18 history no general recalls. Marco Manganelli for organising the event Debbie Wood who seemed to be constantly onshore doing everything throughout the event the caterers led by Alex Belben who were brilliant and, in the face of customer demand, provided coffee from before the advertised galley start time, Stokes Bay Commodore Larry Laurence who helped out so much he can be forgiven both his intervention at the AGM and his Dads Dancing at all the socials and Sarka Ngassa for the brilliant photographs of the racing.

All in all a brilliant event both on and off the water. Thanks to all who took part and helped out and the sponsors and, in answer to the question posed at the beginning of this report, IT WAS THE BEST NATIONALS EVER.

Until, that is, the next one at Dee Sailing Club taking place 25th to the 28th August 2017. Roll on the remaining events on the TT calender the south west championship at Restronguet (the birthplace of the Dart) and as a climax to this 40th year the Worlds to be held at Membelik, Holland 30th July to the 5th August.

P:S Numerous photographs of the on the water and off the water activities can be found on the fleets Public Facebook Page Dart 18 UK.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
17711David LloydTori AkhurstStokes Bay SC12121(6)7
27945Dan NormanAlysian MarkimanIsle of Sheppey SC25(15)53318
37835Dave RobertsLouise RobertsStokes Bay SC43(14)611529
47685Mat ExonJakob ExonRYYC34697(14)29
57987Joffan GarckaGeorge LeanWorthing YC(20)135104739
67513Dan KilsbyJenny KilsbyStokes Bay SC(33)177710142
77875Florian BleischAdrian BleischSVAB25(40)346846
87311Dan TeubertAmy TeubertRestronguet SC(36)15101113453
96286Thomas KelleyCharlieParkstone YC(31)1621491354
107248Andy McQueenHelen RiceStokes Bay SC19148(32)16966
117930Geoff LloydJenny LloydDee SC7624(31)191167
127981Mike GommeSara StonesRYYC35(42)17122268
137984Michael JonesWendy JonesUKIDA81221(25)141974
147940Kenny WatsonDrew YoungRoyal Tay YC15(34)282351081
15889Paul GrattageLiam ThomStokes Bay SC(37)2892082388
166473Andy KelleyLynda ReedStokes Bay SC21942432(DNC)90
177961Marco ManganelliElena GandarStokes Bay SC1835138(OCS)1690
187347Barry PetersOlly StuartDatchet Water SC3012515(37)2899
197923Des BarnesFionnuala BarnesRYYC92219(30)202999
207894Joe FranksEllis StonehouseRYYC(38)1016361227101
216803Sarah KnottSue NelsonStokes Bay SC1119(DSQ)283125114
221Caleb Cooper Worthing SC1325123727(40)114
237969Adrian ParsonsMark StonesDatchet Water SC27827(40)3320115
24601Mark BakerLuke BakerWeston SC17735(48)2137117
257978Paul Chatfield Stokes Bay SC2618(DNF)1DNF12119
264293Darren WoodTracey‑Ann WoodIsland SC1038(43)292222121
277707Will ThompsonLucy MayhewDee SC6232013(DNC)DNC124
289Hans KniepkampAnnette KniepkampWLS.e.V Schmockwitz511393436(DNC)125
296464James HeadHoward HeadFFSC32261818(45)34128
306879Richard MillerMichelle StraceySwanage SC(45)3929261718129
317673Matthew PollockMatt KDee SC14(55)38331835138
327962Mark RobsonKerra PearceIsle of Sheppey SC(44)3130223026139
337644Tom ParkerClaire StubbsNetley SC12361119(DNF)DNF140
341229Tim RobertsSue JonesRBSC(40)2726383515141
357520Keith PollittJonathan DaltonNetley SC24(48)34274217144
367307Chris MooreGarry MooreStokes Bay SC4120223(DNC)DNC148
371288Robby‑Jon GarckaAbby JuppWorthing SC2259231628(DNC)148
387973Simon MoruzziLivvy FranksDee SC(43)29G1G12333149
397563Pete BoxerDaniel BrzezinskiClacton SC34(45)31174036158
407714Sean O'ConnorHelen O'ConnorWeston SC(52)4333461524161
414302Scott AtkinsonJoshua AtkinsonIsle of Sheppey SC2921(46)413838167
427523David GroomCelina GroomNetley SC46(51)41392521172
435122Owen CoxEmma CapperUKIDA39(53)37452630177
447324Luke SwainPaul MolesworthWhitstable YC48(56)40472931195
457349Nigel JuppMel JuppWorthing SC(50)3250353939195
467735Tony Dod Whitstable YC4230474334(DNS)196
477129Gary Piper Stokes Bay SC28573221(DNC)DNC200
481158Chloe StuartWilliam StuartWeston SC4724(DNF)DNF2444201
497577Paul MorrisPeter SherwinStone SC(54)3336544341207
504773Pete MeteauJess MeteauSwanage SC(55)4149494132212
517736Paul Rogers Stokes Bay SC23374450(DNF)DNC216
523874Tom CampbellEmily MugfordNetley SC16544544(DNC)DNC221
537843Nick TroyGarry ParrotSwanage SC49494842(DSQ)42230
547113Matthew Cooper Worthing SC53(58)42534443235
557709Nigel PalmerMark HolmesStokes Bay SC56475151(DNC)DNC267
566153Ned NevePaul HowardWeston SC5144(DNF)52DNFDNC271
575303Matt BurrellJack WaylandClacton SC57505255(DNC)DNC276
584559Johnathan LavendarSimon SawyerMarconi SC5846(DNC)DNCDNCDNC290
592800James KundertTBAStokes Bay SC5952(DNF)DNFDNCDNC297
60=6912Jonny HarrisPolly JarmanDee SC(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNCDNC310
60=7960Nicolette Van GorpRuud Van GisbergenRoerkoning(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNCDNC310

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