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National Swallow Championship at the Royal London Yacht Club

by Rebecca Oldfield 21 Jul 2017 16:31 BST
Itchenor's Gwaihir takes top prize at the National Swallow Championship © Julia Pettit

The Swallow Class celebrated the mid-point in their three-year 70th anniversary commemorations – marking the year the first boats were built – at the National Swallow Championships at the Royal London YC in Cowes.

Next year will be the 70th anniversary of their Olympic debut and another reason for a wonderful gathering of the clan. After Alex Thomson's amusing and entertaining account of his recent Vendee Globe exploits, the fleet was dispatched to the Peel Bank area for the first of the three races on Saturday. RO Peter Dickson was constrained by much racing activity in the Solent and also by the forecast of increasing winds, and elected to have more of a sprint format to ensure the three-race first day programme was completed.

Without last year's Champion boat Marengo sailing, first blood in the 12-knot breeze went to the ex-International 14 team in Swift (James Hartley), Solitude (Anthony Lunch) followed closely with Skua (Dave Maclean - another ex-14er) in third. Gwaihir had an indifferent start and surrendered third by mistaking the finish ODM with the leeward mark - and getting the sandwiches out too soon! The wind increased as forecast and was gusting to 25 knots by the end of the day's final race, but this did not deter a resurgent and expertly crewed Gwaihir from redeeming themselves with bullets in both races with Migrant (Charles Fisher) and Buccaneer (Mike Bond) second respectively and Swift taking the third spot in both.

Sunday remained overcast but with lighter winds in the range of 11-14 knots. This time the fleet were in the lee of the Bramble bank and Gwaihir continued where they had left off the day before with two 'never headed' race wins. Swift had challenged in the first race of the day but fell back in the second. Stealth (Adrian Fisk) inserted themselves in the top echelon in both races and Echo (Simon Slater) finally found their mojo with a second in the final race.

The Swallow class much enjoyed the hospitality and race management skills of the Royal London YC.

Overall Results:

1st Gwaihir (93) (Mark Struckett, Mike Wigmore and Charles Hyatt)
2nd Swift (7) (James Hartley, Jeremy Sibthorp and Rob Sutherland)
3rd Buccaneer (66) (Mike Bond, Marcus Irwin Brown and Mike Burnford)

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