Please select your home edition
Edition
Wessex Resins 2019 - Pro-Set - 728x90

Graduate National Championship at Bolton Sailing Club

by Alistair Roaf 30 Aug 2017 09:09 BST 26-28 August 2017
Graduate Nationals at Bolton © Richard Craig / www.SailPics.co.uk

During the August bank holiday 14 Graduates gathered at Bolton Sailing Club for their National Championship. This was the first time the Nationals had been held at Bolton and all were excited by the stunning scenery and the unofficial club moto of "We always have wind, it is just a question of how much." One of the advantages of being the highest sailing club in England.

The schedule was two championship races on each day plus a practice on the Saturday, a crews/ladies race and a single-handed race on the Sunday and an early finish on Monday.

After a 15 minute postponement while the wind settled Race One was started at the far bank with the fleet making towards buoy No. 1. Local team Andy and Sue Flitcroft were closest to the committee boat when the gun sounded. This allowed them to have cover on the chasing fleet which they used well as they led round the windward mark. In the gusting force three to four northwest wind, John Clementson and Elliot Marks worked their way up the fleet to second by the end of the first lap with Andy and Sue remaining in the lead. In the second lap John and Elliot got their break and moved into first where they remained to the finish, closely followed by Andy and Sue, and teenage team Ben and Gabe Hill.

Race two involved a circumnavigation of the island and a one kilometre run/broad reach along the lake to the dam. The leading pack was decided on the first beat, to buoy No. 1, with those boats choosing to stay left picking up more pressure to those on the right. It was Steve Blackburn and Ian Ritchie who were first to the windward mark closely followed by the Flitcrofts and John and Elliot. By the end of lap one, John and Elliot were in the lead with Steve and Ian in second. Both held these places to the finish.

Saturday's entertainment involved pre dinner drinks sponsored by boat builder Tim Harper, a thankfully short AGM and great evening meal at the club which was enjoyed by all.

Sunday brought lighter winds from the southwest and sunshine. Race three was a short course in the southern end of the lake. John and Elliott again took control and won in the fluky conditions. They were chased by Andy and Sue, and another teenage team Bryn Abendstern and Alex Brown.

After a curry lunch, it was race four. It was a shifty beat to buoy No. 10 and this was mastered by Roger Cherrill and Meg Warren, and John and Elliot. However, it was the long broad reach, the full length of the lake which had everyone trying to work out what was the best tactical position without being covered by another boat. There were lots of positions being changed down the fleet. Again John and Elliot showed everyone their transom. Bob and Maggie Murrell, in their new boat, found the conditions to their liking and worked their way up to second which they held to the finish.

Later in the afternoon, there was a combined crews/ladies race. The crews' race was convincingly won by Elliot Marks with John Clementson as his crew. The Ladies race was won by Meg Warren crewed by Melanie Titmus.

For the first time in about 15 years, a single-handed race was run. Seven boats entered in the light breeze. First round the windward mark was Steve Blackburn closely followed by Tony Cooper. On the subsequent reach, Tony decided to check his centreboard which put him to the back of the fleet. This allowed Steve to consolidate his lead and claim first.

Sunday night was barbecue night with a great spread of food and a large number of club members joining the Grad sailors which made a great social event with singing and dancing.

It was an early start on Monday with first race at 0930 and yes there was sufficient wind for racing at that time in the morning (the rest of the country was becalmed). There was also a building tension as the competitors did the maths trying to work out what they needed to improve their position. John and Elliot needed fifth or better to win the championship.

It was a southwesterly light wind with a beat to buoy No. 11 that was to start Race No. 5. The fleet were keen with two boats OCS but only one returned to the start. Ben and Gabe Hill were first to take the lead. They were followed by John and Elliot, and Andy and Sue. An exciting race was had with positions changing all the time. In the end it was John and Elliot first across the line, followed by Ben and Gabe, and Steve and Ian.

When John and Elliot returned ashore, they learned they were OCS which meant Ben and Gabe won race five. Suddenly, it was all down to the last race to determine the winner with only one discard allowed. Again, the competitors did the maths and got serious as they walked to their boats.

Buoy No. 11 was again the first mark for the final race, race No. 6. The light wind was up and down. Positioning for the next gust was what mattered. With all the boats changing places up the first beat, there was a yell of celebration as son and father team Sam and Tony Cooper rounded the mark first. This was brilliant for 12 year old Sam helming in his first event with a little guidance from his crew who was 2014 National Champion. At the end of the first lap, Ben and Gabe were first with John and Elliot second. John and Elliott pushed on to get another first and to win the championship overall.

After some very intense racing at a very high standard, all agreed it had been a successful event at Bolton. Thanks to our sponsors, Tim Harper, Boatyard at Beer and SailPics.

  • Lightcraft Cup and Lumley Bowl winners were John Clementson and Elliot Marks.
  • Molyneax Trophy (top three boats from same club) was won by Bolton Sailing Club.
  • Best placed Junior Helm (under 18) was Sam Cooper.
  • Highest placed veteran: Davis Ivins.
  • Ton-up trophy (best placed helm and crew with a combined age of 120): Bob and Maggie Murrell.

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

PosHelmCrewSail NoR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1John ClementsonElliot Marks29791111OCS15
2Andy FlitcroftSue Flitcroft300123233313
3Ben HillGabe Hill301834551417
4Steve BlackburnIan Ritchie291742782DNF23
5Robert MurrellMaggie Murrell3020128426727
6David IvinsChloe/Leanne28785513DNF4532
7Richard ThorpeJane Thorpe30041011867233
8Roger CherrillMeg Warren2962861275935
9James WebberHelen Recardo30156711118638
10Bryn AbendsternAlex Brown301371039111039
11Sam CooperTony Cooper287311121049842
12Hamilton RoafAlistair Roaf2901991412121153
13Dave WilsonIan Beebe2929DNFDNF610101254
14David LockwoodKadriye Lockwood30141313913131361
15Rob RiddelsdellSally Riddelsdell3018DNCDNCDNCDNCDNCDNC80

Related Articles

Graduates at Swarkstone
Great to see juniors in all boats, making it a truly family fun day The day began with such promise, a steady westerly coming down the lake, but as the last boat arrived the wind decided to drop, but hey, Graduates can sail on anything, so it was not going to stop them. Posted on 14 Sep
Graduate Northerns during Bass Week
Close racing, variable conditions and great hospitality The Northerns have been part of the Bass Week scene for the past few years. Following the hiatus for Covid in 2020, the small but enthusiastic Grad fleet were itching to get going again this year. Posted on 13 Aug
Graduate Nationals at Rutland
Held during the club's Battle of the Hikers event In the current circumstances, finding a venue for a nationals event presents a challenge. The Graduate Secretary, Maggie Murrell, persevered and was delighted to be able to arrange for the Graduates to be included in Rutland SC's Battle of the Hikers. Posted on 27 Jul
Graduates at Chipstead
Thirteen entrants race alongside the Heron class The timely relaxation of the COVID rules meant that Chipstead SC were able to run the 2021 Graduate open meeting on 9th May. In common with previous years it was a shared event with the Herons. Posted on 24 May
Cabin fever for the Murrells...
Welcome to driveway Graduate sailing! It's Sunday, the sun is out and the wind is blowing. It would great day for the first sail of the 2020 season, but the clubs are all closed, no-one's about and we're in lockdown, stuck at home. Posted on 6 Apr 2020
Tips for sailing with a young crew
What is different when racing with kids between the age of 6 and 12 Here are some top tips on sailing with young people. The guide covers boat set up, jobs for the crew, sailing techniques, kit and incentives. It is written from the experience of several people who have sailed with kids between the age of 6 and 12. Posted on 25 Oct 2019
Graduates at Swarkstone
The beauty and calm of Swarkestone is very deceptive After several days of strong winds Sunday 8th September 2019 brought brilliant sunshine and a gentle force 2 to Swarkestone Sailing Club in Derbyshire for the return of the club's Graduate Open after a hiatus of seven years. Posted on 17 Sep 2019
Graduates at Bolton
Hard won finishing positions throughout the fleet Three home boats and three visitors competed at the Bolton Sailing Club Graduate Open on 25th August. The standard of racing was very high, resulting in hard won finishing positions at all positions in the fleet. Posted on 26 Aug 2019
Graduate Northerns at Bassenthwaite
A very enjoyable weekend for the fleet With the first race scheduled for the afternoon, the wind forecast was not promising. As expected, it gradually died off through the morning as the fleet of 10 Graduates gathered on the shores of beautiful Lake Bassenwthaite. Posted on 4 Aug 2019
Graduates at Chipstead
"I saw my burgee slowly rotate a complete 360 degrees" On the 12th of May 2019, we had our Chipstead Sailing Club annual Graduate Open Meeting. It was a lovely day, the sun was shining and the wind was coming straight down the lake from the East. Race Officer Richard Ball set up a figure of eight course. Posted on 15 May 2019