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P&B 2018 Sailing Season 728x90

UK Marblehead Class Nationals at Fleetwood - Preview

by UK M Class 4 Jul 2017 18:08 BST 7-9 July 2017
Marbleheads racing at Keighley © Mike Parkington

Marbleheads do Vegas... kind of!

This coming Friday sees over 50 of the UK and Worlds best radio sailing skippers descend on the Marine Lake at Fleetwood for the 2017 UK Marblehead Class National Championships.

Since 2012, Marblehead fleets not only in the UK but across the world have enjoyed a rebirth through a healthy mix of class enthusiasm and promotion teamed with strong racing calendars and renewed International competition. Skippers looking for fast, clean racing at the highest level through to club level, have invested in updated equipment and skippers with older designs have warmed to the realisation that with a minimum level of 'pimping' that their well designed yacht of yesterday can compete well at any level.

Proof in this evident in that boats purchased of differing design for under £1000 with a minimum of upgrades have placed in the top 10 in the last 3 World Championships again showing that ability to identify, rig, tune and sail a well designed yacht will always trump a depth of pocket in this class.

This year's entry list has a truly International field from a total of 8 countries. At the front end of the fleet we have 9 of the top 10 skippers from last years World Championship in Italy. A total of 19 different designs are being sailed with 16 MYA clubs represented from across the country with all vying for important ranking points in the hope of representing GBR at next year's Worlds in Biblis, Germany.

In attendance will be a total of 5 world radio sailing champions, an International Fireball world champion, a National 12 UK champion, an 18 foot skiff worlds runner up and a past winning UK International Moth class skipper and now builder of the current championship winning design in that class are among a fleet of well credentialed and experienced campaigners.

Our Vegas Form guide

With our 2017 venue considered by many as the spiritual home of the class here in the UK and only a coin toss from the Vegas of the north that is Blackpool, we thought it fitting to run you through our list of players and gamblers looking to shine on the Marine Drive Sunset Strip under the control of Fleetwood's very own chief dealer, PRO Derek Priestley.

The Poker Table

It is here we find the top six from last years Worlds in Garda holding court. Barely a word is spoken among the multinational group comprising Gibson, Longhi ITA, Bantock, Pomarede FRA, Ballington and Harris, all in deep concentration trying to master the perfect poker face. The stakes at the big table are high here and while defending champion Gibson may currently hold the aces, you can be sure that this will be a knock 'em down drag 'em out affair before its all over and a new champion is crowned.

The Blackjack Table

It is here where we find those eager to either return or looking to step up for the first time to the poker table. The company here of Roberts, Stollery P, Goodman, Edwards T and Rossignol FRA are clearly playing a low key game with a relaxed 'one too many amber nectars' feel about it. But only a fool would underestimate this bunch of card sharks looking to join the top table.

Who's for Craps?

A wander down the hall and we come across a large gathering at the Craps table. It is here Potter, Vice, Cooke, Ackroyd and Thomas AUS are throwing the dice down on their newly launched rides. Plenty of deep thinkers and comment in this group with the action on this table one to watch for who has the largest number of chips at the end of the session.

Let's relax with Bingo

A full list of players here... markers ready... eyes down.

Key to the door...21, Dancing Queen...17, Rise and Shine...29, Man at the Door...54, Clickety Click...66, Bang the Drum...71, BINGO!

As you can see ladies and gents the players are in full swing and in readiness for everything the bright lights of Fleetwood have in store for them, where all will have the chance to shine or play the joker.

This years UK Marblehead Nationals runs over 3 days from the 7th- 9th of July, immediately followed by the UK 10 Rater class Nationals over 2 days July 10 & 11. Why not come along and witness for yourself International radio sailing at its finest on one of the UK's premier venues.

For more information including a full list of entries and results each day go to the UK Marblehead class website here or follow the UK M class twitter feed here.