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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 /

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

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