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Ocean Elements 2018

DF65 National Championship at Gosport Model Yacht & Boat Club

by Tim Long 23 May 2018 07:09 BST 19-20 May 2018
Upwind during the DF65 Nationals at Gosport © Buzz Coleman & Tim Long

So, we've done it again, another DF65 National Championship is in the bag. It took part under blue skies as per last year, the sun shone, as it did last year, we had A plus conditions as we did last year and even better than all of that, we have a fresh shiny new champion!

Friday practice saw the Swedish delegation on the water at 0830 for some serious boat on boat tuning whilst I arrived at 0915 as the first of the Welsh delegation having left home at around 0400, not bad going and a target time for the journey home. As the day wore on there were a good number of skippers who arrived and got sailing to test out the conditions at the Cockle pond in Gosport. By mid afternoon we were having some proper practice races before the wind started to die out and by 5pm it was time to get over to the pub for a debrief.

Saturday morning dawned as sunny as one could want with a hint of breeze as the 49 competitors got themselves ready for battle. After a briefing from PRO Lester Gilbert the three seeding races got underway with Ken Binks, Nigel Brown and Dutch visitor Peter Molenaar showing the rest of the fleet how it was done.

Race two saw Micky Chamberlain and his "green machine" showing the fleet that he really can sail well in the light stuff, Ken took a second spot from Swede Rolf Dannehammar in third. With us having to sail on the smaller pond due to some unforeseen weed issues the course was pretty much straight across the lake which made for fast and sometimes furious racing. It wasn't until race three that the "Tangerine Dream" borrowed from absent Wayne Stobbs and skippered by Alex Cory showed its hand by taking a race win from Derek Priestley. You'd be forgiven for thinking it was a bit of luck taking into account Alex's first two results and even his fourth where he and Derek fell foul of the marine life in the pond and scored 12th and 13th, tough sailing out there.

The conditions made things a little better for skippers and race team as the morning wore on and we saw a light but steady breeze settle in from the clubhouse corner blowing diagonally down the lake which enabled us to use the full length of the smaller pond, it was to stay this way for the rest of the weekend give or take the odd shift.

Race four was won by Dutchman Tjakko "Yellyfish" Keizer who, when he avoided the marine life, had a great turn of speed but ultimately he couldn't avoid enough of it to make an impact at the top end of the fleet. Local skipper Jim Cheek was having a good day at the office and scored second spot which was quietly getting him up the leader board.

Races 5 and 6 were Alex's showing the fleet that even with a borrowed boat that he hadn't sailed before, he has some great skills at the helm, Buzz and Nigel took the second spots with Italian Paolo and Mark Dicks the third spots.

Race 7 showed us that even the good skippers fall foul of the marine life and Alex scored a 13th spot with Jim Cheek taking the win from Tim Long with Buzz in third spot.

The last race of the day was an ordeal for the A fleet skippers, B and C fleets had used what was left of the dying wind, leaving the A fleet with nothing at all... absolutely nothing, some course resetting was required and the fleet got away....very slowly into what breeze there wasn't. If you were in the leading bunch you were ok and away but behind the wind filled in around the top mark and gifted several places to lucky skippers and took them away from guys who had worked hard to keep their boat moving, hey ho it's the way it goes.

Alex took the lead into the overnight with Nigel second, Derek third and Jim in fourth spot. Some drink was taken at the event dinner where skippers from all nations converged to chat about sailing and other topics whilst watching Mike Weston try really hard to gatecrash the Royal Wedding party across the road. He was, of course, unsuccessful.

Day two dawned a little greyer than the previous but we still had 49 skippers eager to get on with the racing, and the race team obliged with another up and down the lake course set in some light but consistent breeze. Alex put down a marker in race 9 with another bullet with Peter Baldwin making a good start to his day with a second spot with Tim in third.

After a day 1 to forget John Brierley made a statement in race 10 by taking the bullet from clubmate Peter with Alex posting a third spot to keep his points tally in check. 11 and 12 saw Paul Davis and Ken take top spots with Swede Olle Krogh taking both second spots whilst Derek and Tim rounded out the top three.

13 saw Alex back on the top step with Swede Jonas Samson in second and Tjakko showing what he could do when not hampered by the marine life in third.

Alex wasn't to win another race, but with a third, second and a fourth he had done more than enough, Ken, Mark and Tjakko took the last three races and then it was time to put HMS to the test and get the prizes handed out.

Unsurprisingly Alex was a clear winner, local knowledge and good skills shone through over the weekend and he didn't count anything above a 6th place finish.

Some points back was Derek who, as ever at these events, showed us that, once again, you don't have to win a single race to be well up on the scoresheet, it's all about being consistent. Despite some "red wine" induced scores towards the end of day two he was 12 points clear of third placed Buzz.

Often named Eeyore by fellow competitors he had little to grumble about in taking the bottom step of the podium having been 6th overnight.

Ken climbed one spot from his Saturday spot and finished fourth. Tim was lying 3rd on Sunday lunchtime but with no big scores to drop he was overtaken by Buzz and Ken when the third discard kicked in and came in a creditable 5th. Peter climbed from 11th to finish the event 6th, Nigel had a complete mare on Sunday with marine life issues and random gear failure which all saw him slip from an overnight second spot to 7th overall at the close of play. The elusive Paul Davis took 8th, Swede Olle Krogh 9th and Mark Dicks rounded out the top ten.

A very well done to all the skippers that took part in sometimes testing conditions. The weather was great, the wind was mostly great too with everyone using their A+ rigs throughout the weekend and the social and banter was, as always, great too.

Special thanks to all those at the Gosport club who gave their time so that we could all sail, Lester and Chris did an excellent job between them to set courses and keep the racing rolling along at a good pace which saw us complete 16 races.

Next stop is the DF Racing TT at Two Islands in Milton Keynes on the 9th and 10th June.

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