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20th Devon Yawl National Championships at Yealm Yacht Club

by Tim Petitt 15 Jul 2017 13:13 BST 8-9 July 2017
Devon Yawl National Championship 2017 © Heads Up Definition /

The 27 boat entry was hosted by the Yealm Yacht Club at Newton Ferrers, Devon. The first Devon Yawl National Championship was held in Topsham on the Exe in 1997 and the event has run annually since then. This year's entry fee was subsidised by the Devon Yawl Association, being held at the 1997 fee of £20. This included race entry, two barbecue tickets and a commemorative mug for all entrants, including crew. Can't get better value than that!

Visitors were welcomed from Topsham SC, Dittisham SC, Salcombe YC and Rock SC.

The weekend was forecast to be one of light airs and so it proved to be. The scene in the Wembury Bay race area on Saturday morning was welcoming as the boats left the River Yealm with a solid breeze of around 6 knots.

The format for the Saturday was three races of approximately 1 hour duration on a traditional triangle, windward-leeward and triangle course. The race officer, Chris Matthews, set the course in the light south westerly breeze and the fleet was clean away for the first start at 1030am.

The wind was fickle, though fairly steady in direction, varying from 3 to 6 knots. With each slight increase in pressure, hopes were raised for a building sea breeze, but the lack of sunshine and cloud cover seemed to prevent this from happening.

Andy and Vicky Williams in their new boat, DY383, led off the line and held the lead throughout the race for an opening win. The rest of the fleet's first beat consisted of tacking up the middle of the course trying to find some clear air from a closely packed fleet. Second to the windward mark were Tim Petitt and Tony Callcut in DY186 hotly pursued by the other newly built Yawl, DY384, sailed by Salcombe Yawl sailors Andrew Wood and Ruari McColl. After the windward/leeward and second triangle, DY186 just pulled ahead for 2nd place and DY384 took 3rd.

Race 2 quickly followed Race 1. In almost identical conditions, Tim Petitt & Tony Callcut in DY186 led to mark 1 and held off Andy and Vicky Williams in DY383 for the first lap. However, on the downwind leg DY383 gained an overlap at the bottom mark. Once ahead DY383 could not be caught and recorded their second win of the day. DY186 finished 2nd. Throughout the race, Dan Fellows and Clare Dudley in DY54 had sailed up through the fleet and finished 3rd.

During the lunch break between races 2 and 3 the already fickle wind died away to nothing. Boats were brought in close to the committee boat, to prevent them drifting away in the tide. The rafting up of 10 yawls around Phil Carter's launch made for quite a pleasant social occasion. The sun broke through the cloud at around 2pm. A slight sea breeze was trying to build. Keen to get the last race of the day under way, the race committee sounded the signal and dropped the postponement flag and everyone was galvanised back into action.

Race 3 started with Dan Fellows and Clare Dudley in DY54 leading from a pin end start, crossing the fleet on port tack and building a commanding lead that could not be broken. Tim Petitt and Tony Callcut in DY186 and Ed Williams-Hawkes and Tim Coombe in DY351 followed to take 2nd and 3rd respectively in another very light airs race.

At the end of day one, everyone was glad that three fair races had been achieved in the light conditions. At this stage the top of the score board was made up of DY383 on 6 points, DY186 on 6 points and DY54 on 9 points. DY383 was ahead on count back with two firsts.

The support boats, ribs and launches, towed the fleet back into the River Yealm to their overnight moorings. The evening's festivities included a barbecue hosted by the Yealm Yacht Club and Justin & Juliet Sluce's band playing outside on the deck on a lovely summer's evening.

The Sunday morning started with almost identical conditions to the Saturday. The wind remained south westerly and patchy. The first of the two races for the day was delayed slightly as the wind filled in to around 6 knots. With everyone keen to get away, there was an almost inevitable general recall and for the re-start the black flag appeared. This did the trick. Race 4 saw Ed Williams-Hawkes and Tim Coombe in DY351 leading from the start and for the first lap. However, the downwind leg, always very difficult in such light airs, saw Dan Fellows and Clare Dudley in DY54 pass them, extend and take the win. DY351 finished 2nd whilst Andy and Vicky Williams in DY383 climbed through the fleet to take 3rd place.

At the start of the 5th race, the Championship result was still wide open. With the top three contenders on 5 and 6 points and a discard now coming into play, it was all to do. The wind was now dying again. However, the committee spotted an area, closer to the River Yealm entrance, where a breeze was building and moved the start inshore. This proved to be successful with the wind building in the 5th race to a decent breeze.

After another general recall and with the black flag rule appearing again, a pin end biased line saw 4 of the top 5 contenders bunched up at the port end. Andrew Wood and Ruari McColl in DY354 won the pin and pulled out into the lead, closely followed by Dan Fellows and Clare Dudley in DY54. DY384 was able to hold them off for the win. Dan Fellows and Clare Dudley took second place securing the 2017 Devon Yawl National Championship. Finishing in 3rd place gave Ed Williams-Hawkes and Tim Coombe in DY351 4th overall. Andy and Vicky Williams' 4th place in this race took second place overall. Tim Petitt and Tony Callcut in DY 186 had done enough to take third place overall.

The prize giving was held in the Yealm Yacht Club afterwards, with Clive Jacobs, who organised and won the original Devon Yawl National Championship at Topsham in 1997, presenting the trophies.

Next year will be the 50th Anniversary of the building of the first Devon Yawl, so another special edition of the Championship is being planned by Yealm Yacht Club.

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

PosSail no.Helm/CrewClubR1R2R3R4R5Pts
1DY54Dan Fellows /Clare DudleyYYC‑531127
2DY383Andy & Vicky WilliamsYYC11‑4349
3DY186 Tim Petitt/Tony CallcutYYC222‑7511
4DY351Ed Williams‑Hawkes/Tim CoombeTSC4‑1332312
5DY384Andrew Wood/Ruari McCollSSC310‑126120
6DY60Alistair Morley/ Scott McCreadySSC‑10584623
7DY35Elly Pegg/Deborah CochraneYYC88‑195728
8DY352John Bradley/Don MacraeTSC94‑189931
9DY184Andrew Hattersley/Willie HamiltonTSC‑156681434
10DY160John Skelton/Ian ScholefieldTSC11‑155121240
11=DY80AJohn Leal/Neil YoungYYC6111314‑1544
11=DY128Chris & Sarah WilliamsYYC13‑1710111044
13DY185David & Daniel Matthews/Helen Rosser YYC1291410‑1645
14DY372Richard King/Ros MearsYYC‑2319713847
15DY100AAndrew & Cathy Matthews YYC‑21169151151
16DY80Toby Courtauld/Jono WalterRSC171215‑211357
17DY102Mike Bennett/Martin GregoryDSC1871619‑2060
18DY188Adam Booth/Justin SluceYYC71811‑282864
19DY91Adrian Troop/Steve KeatsTSC1614‑21161965
20=DY105Mike & Rowan RobertsTSC‑241920171874
20=DY52Mark & Helen PhillipsYYC20‑2817181974
22=DY333Phil Belsham/Mike KnightYYC1423‑24222180
22=DY65Bob & Alison JefferyYYC1921‑23231780
24DY4Tony Tubb/Susie TerryYYC22222220‑2386
25DY112Martyn Cawse/Barbara MackayYYC‑2828282424104
26DY350David Harding/Ian Campbell ‑2828282828112
27DY354Graham and Carol CoweYYC‑2828282828112

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