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Marblehead National Championships at Datchet Water - Form Guide

by UK M Class 13 Jul 2016 19:52 BST 16-17 July 2016
Marbleheads at Keighley © Michael Parkington

The 2016 UK Marblehead Class Nationals will be held this coming weekend 16th & 17th July at Datchet Water Sailing Club.

This being a World Championship year, a strong GBR contingent will be looking to fine tune their boats and minds at the fast and open Datchet venue in conditions likely to mirror those expected on Lake Garda, Italy in late September.

A typical Marblehead can register up to 6 measured rigs with current trends of un-stayed tapered carbon rigs, pocket luff mainsails, pre-preg carbon hulls and fins offering a wide scope of design freedom for any thinking designer or skipper, exhibiting all things cutting edge in radio sailing design at 1290mm in overall length.

As in recent years, fleet numbers remain strong in this one of four World Sailing/IRSA recognised International classes with 46 skippers entered. With a number of new designs and rigs undergoing final tweaking, the best of UK radio sailing will be pitting themselves against a contingent of International skippers representing Germany, Italy and France looking to not only knock off the locals, but gain a performance gauge in the lead up to the Worlds.

As with previous years we once again offer a form guide to help you pick your podium. This one may be too close to call!

The Contenders

Brad Gibson – Birkenhead
Current World & National Champion will be looking to continue his unbeaten run dating back to 2012. Will be sailing will be sailing his own designed 'Grunge'.

Peter Stollery - Guildford
Six time National Champion, past World and National IOM class Champion. Peter will be racing a Stollery Uproar design with a full bag of swing rigs that will be immaculately tuned and presented. Will the magic return?

Robert Walsh - Fleetwood
Past National and World IOM Champion. One of the UK's form skippers, Rob will be racing an Australian McDowell designed F3. Time on the water with this boat has been limited but a skipper never to be discounted if it all clicks.

Graham Bantock - Chelmsford
Multiple past World, Euro and National Champion. Second at the 2012 & 2014 Worlds will be looking for a strong lead in performance to this years Worlds. Will be sailing his own 'Quark' design and will be tough to beat.

Martin Roberts - Birkenhead
Past National and World Champion. Roberts will again be borrowing his wife Andrea's trusted pink Creed designed Starkers Squared, that took him to his Worlds win in 2006. Like a broom with numerous handles and brushes, this boat/skipper combination is always at the sharp end.

Darin Ballington – Manor Park
Big D will again be racing his updated Bantock ROK design while he awaits his new package for the Worlds. Recent IOM class form sees him as a frontrunner here if the wind shows up.

James Edwards – Yeovil
Strong performances in late 2015 with his pimped Bantock Paradox design have seen James rise up the UK ranking list. Will be racing the first production Gibson Grunge design and may take time finding his feet.

The Wiley Foxes

Chris Harris - Windrush
A return to the M class for Chris where he will be racing an older Chris Dicks design that has been brought up to modern spec. Expected to be mixing it up at the front end of the fleet.

Tony Edwards – Yeovil
Like son James, Tony has raced a borrowed pimped Paradox for much of 2015 recording some steady results, including a win at the class Veteran Nationals. Will again be with the Paradox in anticipation of something newer arriving in time for Garda.

John Shoorock – Datchet
Shozza has quietly gone about his business since the last worlds and ticked over some good scores at events. Always good for a heat win but can he nail them down consistently?

Phil Holliday – Datchet
Another local and our UK Class Captain, Phil has embraced all that is Marblehead in the relatively short few years he has been radio sailing. Racing a Bantock Quark with a few small personal tweaks, he will be one who may surprise.

The Internationals to watch

Matteo Longhi – Italy
This winner of recent French, Italian and Swiss National championships could possibly post the biggest threat to GBR skippers this year. A quiet competitor with his Pomerade designed Tramontane, Matteo will waste little time finding his form.

Nigel Winkley – Germany
Regular visitor to our shores and will be racing his new Bantock designed Quark. Will this be the boat to take Nigel on to his first UK event win?

Laurent Gerbeaud – France
A world class competitor who finished runner up to Gibson at last years Nationals. Will be interesting to see if France's number one entrant has lost any of his magic.

The Newcomers

Colin Goodman – Coal House Fort
May be a first time Marblehead skipper but this ex-Fireball World Champion and front end IOM skipper will take little time showing his race craft. Definitely one to watch with his borrowed Bantock Prime Number design.

Duncan Ellis - Norwich
Another ex dinghy racer, Duncan has shown enough at events this year to not be discounted from a strong result. Should enjoy the open water conditions with his Creed Starkers.

Add to this mix a wider host of experienced campaigners, enthusiastic District skippers, newcomers and resident class comedians, this years Nationals looks to be another one not to miss!

Racing will start from 10am Saturday and 9.30 Sunday so why not come along and take a look, or follow the reports and action on the below websites for the best of what true international radio sailing has to offer.

Event website:

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