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Sailingfast 2018 728x90

UK (Vane) A-Class Championship at Fleetwood Model Yacht Club

by John Taylor 6 Aug 2017 22:57 BST 29 July - 4 August 2017

This prestigious regatta has a history which dates back to the late 1920's. This five day event brings skippers from all over the UK, with the Netherlands also represented.

David / Robert Bell (Sail no 26) started the regatta as current champions and the holders of the trophy for the past 2 years. However, there would be strong challenges from Fleetwood skippers Peter Whiteside and Eddie Greenwood (Sail No 97) and the Birkenhead team, of Martin Roberts and Bernie McNulty (Sail no 49). In addition, it's worth mentioning Anthony Warren and Lester Gilbert (Sail no 76), both teamed up and competing with a new yacht called 'Lance'. The two skippers have been trialling this new design created by Graham Bantock all year. The regatta began with a strong south westerly breeze, this weather condition remained for the whole duration of the regatta, but sometimes the wind would increase gusting up to 35mph. Twelve skippers and their mates started to compete with their yachts. Two rounds were scheduled with the fleet racing each other twice over the course of the week. Each race has two parts, a beating and a running leg.

After the first day David / Robert Bell (Sail no 26) started strongly and prior to lunch the team hadn't dropped a point. Fleetwood skipper Peter Whiteside (Sail no 97) sailing one of the heavier boats in the fleet, took advantage of the weather conditions and also made a very positive start. Some of the lighter displacement yachts found some of the conditions hard going, as well as some of the more mature skippers. I include myself because once i had completed my race, I would then go back to give my sailing colleagues a hand. However, after a couple of times running the full 247 meter lake, my true lack of fitness would shine through. So what do I do about it? Retire and cook for everyone during one of the regatta's social events, later that evening at the clubhouse.

After day two the 'Birkenhead' team of Martin Roberts / Bernie McNulty (Sail no 49), produced the performance of the day by achieving most of the points that were on offer. Therefore, after a slow start they had managed to steer themselves into a strong position to make a title challenge during the second half of the regatta. Throughout the fleet points were being thrown away because of mistakes or by just pure bad luck. In Anthony Warren's case (Sail No 76), he managed to get himself disqualified in 2 consecutive races by not polling his boat off correctly. In the end the OOD (Derek Priestley) called time on the race early, because boats were starting to break due to the weather conditions and overall 6 heats had been achieved.

Day 3 was all about the Yachting Monthly Cup, a knockout competition which gave the skippers a welcome break from the main event. In the first round all skippers found themselves in groups of three. Therefore, after sailing each other twice the top 2 skippers with the most points, from there group carried on to the next round. The bottom boats would then finish for the day and retire back to the clubhouse. The following rounds would be purely a knockout competition. Drawn out of a hat each skipper would be paired off, sailing the best from 3 races. If after two beats the scores were tied, then the decider would be resolved from the running leg up the lake. Most noticeable performance of the day came from Eddie Greenwood (Sail no 01). Perhaps the most senior skipper competing this week, who reached the semi-finals of this competition. Eddie started sailing in this regatta in the 1950's and his experience of the lake, was too much for some skippers. Additionally, Amber Geldard perhaps one of the youngest competitors sailing this week, was faced with a difficult scenario when her skipper / father David Geldard, (Sail no 94) managed to mistakenly send his yacht to the top bank. Amber managed to re-trim her father's yacht, under pressure from her close competitor and win the points and send them both into the next round.

In the end, David / Robert Bell (Sail no 26) and Shawn, Lewis and Graham Wyeth (Sail no 99) competed in the final. After one win each the race was decided on the run. After a close race Shawn, Lewis and Graham Wyeth came out winners and have claimed the Yachting Monthly Cup 2017.

On the Thursday the weather conditions became a big test as the wind gusted up to 35mph at times. All skippers selected there smaller sails, only 4 heats were completed but to the skippers credit, only minor damage was found during racing. Overall there was no change at the top with David / Robert Bell, Martin Roberts / Bernie McNulty, Peter Whiteside and the Wyeth family all taking most of the points on offer.

On the final day, one by one the closest challengers dropped points and David / Robert Bell became the UK (Vane) A-Class Champions for the third year in a row. Sailing their yacht 'Pegasus', they achieved a total of 83 points. One of the performances of the week was Fleetwood skipper Peter Whiteside (70yrs) and Eddie Greenwood (80yrs) who were 2nd overall. They are the most senior team who's continuing enthusiasm for this sport remains an example for all. A special mention also for Shawn, Lewis and Graham Wyeth. Their family team work produced a winning formula to collect the Yachting Monthly Cup. Shawn and Lewis ran the yacht, but using Graham's vast experience proved essential in achieving success in this knockout competition. Amber Geldard won the most improved sailor award. During this week Amber has helped her father sail in this competition and managed to save points, when all seemed lost. A fantastic effort goes to Arjan van der Cingel from the Netherlands, his yacht managed to achieve the fastest running leg, timed at 1 minute 17 seconds, covering the length of the lake at 246 metres. Thanks to the Fleetwood Club for hosting this regatta.

Overall Results:

1st David / Robert Bell, 83pts
2nd Peter Whiteside / Eddie Greenwood, 73pts
3rd Martin Roberts / Bernie McNulty, 68pts
4th Shawn, Lewis, Graham Wyeth, 66pts
5th Arjan Van Der Cidel, 63pts
6th David / Amber Geldard, 58pts
7th Peter Fothergill / Andy Fernie, 50pts
8th Robert / Thomas Walsh, 48pts
9th Damian Ackroyd, 46pts
10th John Taylor, 43pts
11th Anthony Warren / Lester Gilbert, 35pts
12th Rob / CJ Vice, 24pts

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