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Tyneside derby at Scarborough Sailing League event

by Imogen Stanley 9 Jun 2016 14:44 BST 4-5 June 2016
UK National Sailing League second qualifier at Scarborough © Jack Fenwick / RYA

The second qualifier of the UK National Sailing League, in association with Bainbridge International & Selden, was held at Scarborough Yacht Club this weekend (4-5 June) using local 707s kindly loaned by local members.

With teams from Sunderland YC and Rotherham SC and university teams from Newcastle, Leeds and Sheffield Hallam taking on two local teams, the stage was set to thrash out some old rivalries.

Racing got off to a flying start and Newcastle University set down a marker, leading the fleet away from the start, and controlled the race all the way around the course, their slick boat handling never giving the others a way in.

Leeds University showed great pace but were unable to find a chink in the Newcastle armour and couldn't pass them. As the teams found their way around the supplied 707s and got more confident, the umpires had to keep a close eye on the starts to make sure that the teams played fair as they fought for the best position off the line.

Boat handling was put under pressure in the building swell and timing of a tack could make the difference between first and last at the windward mark. By mid-afternoon the wind was over 30 knots and the decision was taken to put reefs in.

The ninth race got underway with teams vying for position at the left hand end of the line and even with reefs, the boats were still proving to be a handful. With gusts up to 20 knots racing was postponed until Sunday, overnight Sunderland YC had a very narrow lead over Newcastle.

Over a BBQ, Event Director Ewan McEwan, then led a very informative discussion about the League concept in the UK, Europe and beyond.

Sunshine and a gentle 8-12 knot northerly greeted the sailors as they made their way to the race track on Sunday morning. With Sunderland and Newcastle meeting in the first race there was a tight battle but David Matthews from Sunderland kept his cool and led his team to the win.

Newcastle had a two point lead over Sunderland with just two races left tog, and both were sailing the last two races. Sunderland got a nice left shift on the first beat to take the lead and win the penultimate race and the Tyneside derby would be decided in the very last race.

With the pressure getting to both teams, neither had a great start, Sheffield Hallam and Leeds led the way up the first beat.

Sunderland passed Leeds at the first mark and moved into second. Newcastle fought hard and were able to squeeze ahead of Leeds by the leeward mark and the chase was on. Sheffield Hallam maintained their race lead and won their first race of the regatta and Sunderland beat Newcastle which was enough to beat them overall on tie break and take the event win.

The teams headed back ashore to pack up before a quick prize giving in Scarborough Yacht Club. Commodore Steve Parker did the honours of handing out the prizes, generously donated by Bainbridge International and Selden Masts. On closing the prizegiving, Parker said: "This is a brand new event and we were really keen to see if the format would work and we've not been disappointed. It has been great to see so many sailors of all ages and from so many clubs come to see what we have to offer here in Scarborough and everyone has told me how much fun they have had. We are really proud of our members for lending their boats and helping out to make this event such a success, I can't wait for next year."

Andrew Pindar, a supporter of the weekend from Scarborough YC said: "The racing was fast, furious, frequent and fun and went beyond everyone's expectations, including my own. I think that I have just witnessed, with great delight, a whole new development in competitive sailing for club racers keen to prove themselves on a bigger stage."

The next UK Sailing League event will be held at Port Edgar Watersports on the 18/19th June.

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