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21st Devon Yawl National Championships at Yealm Yacht Club

by Tim Petitt 10 Jul 2018 23:03 BST 30 June - 1 July 2018
21st Devon Yawl National Championships © Jon Pegg

The Yealm Yacht Club, at Newton Ferrers in Devon, hosted the 21st Devon Yawl National Championship in the year of the 50th Anniversary of the Devon Yawl over the weekend of 30 June - 1 July.

23 Devon Yawls and one Devon Dayboat entered, including 12 visiting boats from Topsham, Dittisham, Dawlish and Bristol.

A strong Easterly was forecast for the weekend. However, Saturday saw a beautiful sunny day with a brisk NE breeze of 15-18 knots, gusting 22, blowing off the land giving flat water, though shifty.

The format for the day was three races of approximately one hour's duration on a traditional triangle, windward-leeward, triangle course. The course was set in toward the mouth of the River Yealm and the fleet was clean away for the first start.

The fresh, gusty conditions collected the first two port/starboard incidents, with two bowsprits broken on DY91 and DY352 and their subsequent retirements. A broken jib tack fitting on DY1 (DY141) saw the third retirement and DY65 was swamped when the mainsheet stuck in the jammer. These four kept the support boats busy.

For the rest of the fleet the fresh conditions saw great sailing. The windward mark was set in the River entrance on the ebb tide. The fleet split left and right, choosing a side to minimise tidal influence. DY186 went right and arrived at the windward mark first, closely followed by DY383 which went left. Most of the fleet went left and arrived at the windward mark on port causing some excitement with the port rounding.

DY186 then led from start to finish, closely followed by DY383. DY35 held onto third from DY100 in fourth. Coincidentally, this was to exactly mirror the final placings.

With the first race completed, the wind eased a little and then sprang up from a new direction, a shift of 30 degrees to the East.

The windward mark was now open to the sea in the East, the wind picked up again to 18-20 knots and a short chop started building. The second race started with an individual recall and two boats returned to restart. The beat was very even, with no particular side being favoured and DY35 and DY377 had a close race, changing positions regularly with DY35 just pipping DY377 to the finish. DY383 sailed a solid race for third. DY186, having gone back to restart, worked its way through the fleet to finish fourth.

The conditions now were fresh, with white tops and choppy conditions. 'Champagne Sailing' saw the Yawls onto the plane in the gusts down the waves.

A 45 minute lunch break after the second race allowed some recovery time before the third race of the day. The course was adjusted slightly but the windward mark remained in the same Easterly direction, along the coastline.

The race, initially led by DY377, turned into an epic battle. All three leading boats, DY377, DY35 and DY186 regularly swapping positions as the wind swung left and right. DY35 opting for the left side on the second beat seemed to have an advantage over the right side and did a very neat job of tacking inside DY377 at the mark to take the lead. Seeing the advantage, DY186 applied the left in the next beat and managed to get alongside DY35 for the last run. Both boats enjoyed running with jibs poled out in 25 knot gusts as DY186 got to hold the inside line at the bottom mark. On the rounding and short beat to the finish DY186 slightly over stood allowing DY35 to get back alongside, though to leeward. Half a boat length separated the finish positions. DY377 finished third and DY383 fourth.

Sunday dawned with a torrential downpour and less wind. The forecast was for the breeze to build to Saturday's conditions and for the rain to ease, which thankfully it did.

The wind had shifted back to the NE, which entailed laying the windward mark in the entrance to the River once more. With the tide starting its ebb, the decision to go left or right up the first beat to avoid the tide resulted in the right side paying. DY186 arrived first from the right with DY351 close behind. The left side boats were not far behind making for a congested first mark rounding and changing of positions. DY383 came out best and secured second place.

The final run saw the kicker fitting on the boom of DY186 give up as the helm forgot to ease it on the bear away at the top mark. A quick lashing onto the boom and re-attachment of the kicker block saw disaster averted and DY186 manage to stay in the lead to the finish. DY383 finished second, DY 304 third and DY100 fourth. Championship contender DY35, after going back at the start, fought back through the fleet to finish sixth.

The fifth and final race saw a similar breeze to race four. Again, with the tide ebbing the decision to go right on a long port tack was paying off. DY383 managed to get off the line and tacked onto port first, leading the race with clear air from start to finish. DY35 followed up the right hand side. DY352, with a new bowsprit fitted after Saturday's collision, also had a good start and was third to the windward mark. A battle developed between the second, third and fourth place boats to hold the right hand lane. DY186 eventually managed to get through to claim second place. DY35 coming in third and DY352 fourth.

As the fleet returned to the Yealm, the grey skies cleared, the sun came out and the sea was blue again. Perfect finish to a great weekend.

Special thanks go to Ullman Sails for providing T-Shirts and sail-bags as prizes and to Selden for water bottles for every competitor.

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

PosSail No.Helm/CrewClubR1R2R3R4R5Pts
1DY186Tim Petitt / Tony CallcutYYC141125
2DY383Andy & Vicky WilliamsYYC234218
3DY35Elly Pegg / Ed PetittYYC312639
4DY100Richard Babbage / Mark TroutTSC45104619
5DY377Adam Parry / Beki RobertsNSC102310520
6DY60Alistair Morley /Scott McCreadyYYC87751127
7DY80ATim Yonge / John LealeYYC96571427
8DY 304Iain Cook / Tom KemptonTSC169631230
9DY188Adam Booth / Justin SluceYYC611814732
10DY351Ed Williams-Hawkes/Tim CoombeTSC78981032
11DY96James & Bella Mc NaughtonTSC1110119939
12DY171Rich & Nigel WatshamTSC5252511849
13DY102Mike Bennett / Neil DrewDSC191212131350
14DY160John Skelton / Jonny MoulsdaleTSC121314151854
15DY320Julian Whiteley / Gemma MatthewsYYC141413181758
16DY372Richard King / Ros MearsYYC151515171560
17DY352John Bradley / John SleepTSC25252512466
18DY92Donald Macrae / Mike BrooksTSC171625191971
19DY1Mike & Rowan Roberts 251725161674
20DY100AAndrew & Cathy MatthewsYYC2525252525100
20DY112Martin Cawse / Barbara MackayYYC2525252525100
20DD24Steve Evans / John Read 2525252525100

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