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Marblehead Vane Boats at Fleetwood Model Yacht Club

by Tony Wilson 17 May 2018 13:17 BST 12-13 May 2018
Marblehead Vane Boats at Fleetwood © Tony Wilson

For some, not only being able to display, but actually sailing a Marblehead Vintage in a race could count as being one of your highlights for the year. Derek priestly introduced the largest group for a while of 15 competitors mixed of Vintage and Classic boats to a full weekend of Vane sailing.

The weather was to be just right, with a light breeze and only the slightest chance of the odd shower and we weren't let down. No blistering heat and it's just how you like it if you have to break out in a sweat and start sprinting after your run away boat.

Eric Watkinson had filled out all the score cards and it was straight to the water as the busy schedule meant we had 15 races to squeeze in over the weekend and the aim was to manage at least seven on the first day, with the remainder on Sunday after an earlier start.

Derek had the pleasure of helping out on a Vintage boat that he had actually learnt on many years ago as a teenager. Eric had lent out a couple of his boats to Newbie potentials which was very kind of him. The Bell brothers were again in attendance with their prize possession boat " Tempest ", which we remember as being one of the favourites despite it's age and Dad was going to help man the far bank along with a couple of helpers and the 'Bye' man.

The 10mph breeze was mainly constant for the weekend straight down the lake with only a slight variation from the right hand corner, veering eventually over to the left and stiffening slightly by the Sunday afternoon. Most had the standard A sail and a few opted for the high aspect ratio taller slimmer version. Two or three of the vintage had the old quadrant style Braine gear to steer their boats. This is one of the earliest variants of control and is a means of working the rudder by lines that are attached to the mainsail. A selection of feather vanes from the standard Jones to some homemade masterpieces were driving others.

Alan Oxlade soon had the first two couples on the start line for the first beat. He had driven all way up North from Maidenhead and it was his diligence and friendly command that kept the flow on schedule. The slight chill meant a light coat was a good idea, even though you had seen the odd member of public braving skimpy attire or displaying a show of bronzed muscles.

From an early indication we had an idea of who the top contenders were in the Vintage section. The Bell brothers were working in total unison like a well oiled two cylinder machine usually knowing what the other thought before adjustment was needed. Then we had the experience of many years and know how from our derek, it was going to be a battle.

In the classic section we had a former winner Damian Akroyd but he was going to be up against Fleetwood favorites maybe Peter Whiteside or even Eddie Greenwood. All was to play for, as four trophies were on offer over the two days workout.

Extra spacing was called for at the bottom end of the lake, due to a couple of comings together and sometimes boats were so similarly tuned that they made the best part of the lake nearly touching for the whole of the flight. The two peters did just this to only have to walk the full length of lake after one such instance, but it was good fun.

Tony and Damian were both sailing the Bloodaxe boats but with a different sail suit. Tony thought he had him beat as was better trimmed until getting to the other side for a return tack and then lost it, what was he thinking.

Peter Isles and Dave were having some minor problems with vanes sticking, although Peter's results have greatly improved from his last outing with the green gremlin.

At the end of the first day Rob and David Bell were in the lead over both classes, but with still another day to sail it was anyone guess.

Day two and we were off to a very prompt earlier start and the weather was still good. A few different faces turned up to see what all the fuss was about, showing great interest.

Alan Bells boat tempest had been doing extremely well and hadn't lost a Beat until race 10, but that was the only one. Derek and Tim Daniels hadn't lost a Run leg except for one late on Sunday afternoon. Dave Mathers had had a good Saturday also and was eventually awarded best 'New comer' as well as joint third place along with Peter Whiteside for the Vintage. Damian slowly eased his way into joint second for the classic after struggling on the Saturday, although still having a couple of problematic 'Runs'.

The Vintage boats won the day and I thought it was supposed to be the more modern to have advantage, but then it's probably down to who's sailing what. A real good weekend for all was had and improvements were had throughout the fleets and was certainly a memorable occasion to look back to.

Thanks to Eric, Alan and Fleetwood for hosting this great event.

Trophies Winners:

Walter Jones Trophy (Top Vintage) "Tempest" David & Robert Bell (Fleetwood) 63 pts
Hayes Trophy (2nd Vintage) "Pemar" Tim Daniels & Derek Priestley (Vintage Group) 50 pts
Mayoral Cup (1st Classic) "Sula" Bill Green& Adam Taylor (Bournville) 50 pts
Pearson Trophy (2nd= Classic) "Gizum" Damian Ackroyd (Leeds & Bradford) 38 pts and "Wombat" John Plant (Fleetwood) 38pts

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