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Wanderer National Championship at Langstone Sailing Club

by Adam Wickenden 6 Sep 2018 08:15 BST 25-27 August 2018
Wanderer Nationals at Langstone Harbour © Daniella Brain

A comedy of errors in three races, followed by an awful lot of wind and rain

Langstone Harbour – the great lake on the south coast no one knows about. Every time I tell people I'm going there they say 'Where?'. Hint – it's the sometimes wet, sometimes muddy bit you can see when you turn left off the A3M on to the M27.

The Wanderer fleet know about it of course. We've been holding our Nationals there for a few years on and off now joining in with the Langstone Harbour Race Weekend now in its tenth year and smoothly organised by Tudor SC, Locks SC and Langstone SC with Tudor's Dinghy Captain Richard Barnes and wife Hannah, Club Commodore, pulling the strings. This year the Regatta was held later than usual because the 'sometimes muddy' bit does restrict sailing times. The Lightning 368 class were also there with their Sea Championships and the Wayfarers with their Western Area Championships.

Eight Wanderers, (sadly Frank Atherton had to withdraw a day or so earlier), including a very welcome contingent from Sea Cadet units in Scarborough, Scunthorpe, Barry, Sheppey and Reigate made the journey coordinated by Tony Elgar, Assistant Head of Inshore Boating, based at Weymouth.

Several of us enjoyed the usual Friday night supper hospitality of Tudor SC but it was when we all started to rig the boats on the Saturday morning, that was when it all started to go a tad wrong for my helm. Generally, it is a good idea to arrive with all of the boat and all of its fittings. It transpired that his mast chocks were in Salcombe, his spinnaker pole in Henley, and the separator for the jib halyard from the forestay was..... well not in Langstone. A hurried phone call down the road to WCOA Treasurer Robin Gabbitas produced a replacement spinnaker, and the missing part of the furler gear was fabricated from a compact disk kindly donated by Liz North, Paul Yeadon's crew. The chocks proved a bit harder, and with the wind conditions they were going to be needed. Finally, a suitably sized flat flint was found on the beach, and it fitted perfectly. Now, all the class rules state is that chocks shall be 'un-tapered', nothing about exotic(ish) materials. Even better, we were able to get it out of the mast gate when racing finished.

Race 1 - We were the last start in a sequence of four fleets, starting 3 minutes after the Lightnings. We sailed 2 laps of a triangle/sausage course, while the fast fleet sailed a windward-leeward sausage, their windward and leeward marks being further apart. Wind was a gentle force 2 to 3, blowing off the land from the Northwest. Thus it was unstable and shifty.

Somehow, despite the tide still flooding a large chunk of the fleet managed to be well below the line. Paul Yeadon started on port which seemed to work out fairly well. There was one catch, the windward mark should have been nicely in line with the fast fleet's mark. It wasn't. We all thought this was some cunning ruse by the Race Officer Jack Marshall to account for tide. Alas no, the mark was drifting right in the last of the flood tide. Everyone made it and set off for the wing mark. The first reach was now close hauled as a result of the drifting mark. Robert Cartwright rounded in the lead, except he didn't think he had. Confused by the drifting mark, he was looking for another mark further to windward, and tacked back onto port and headed off up the harbour. The rest of us, Paul Yeadon, Ian Simpson, Jake Richardson and Philip Meadowcroft all took the simple option of following the Lightning fleet, who seemed to have sussed things out. Robert Cartwright soon spotted his mistake and tacked back in pursuit. Being now high of the rumb line he popped up his spinnaker, and promptly capsized. Apparently, being Impala keelboat sailors, both were waiting for a bowman to do something with the pole.

Spinnakers were carried down the next reach, with Meadowcroft able to slip past both Paul Yeadon and Jake Richardson. A slightly lighter second lap saw Meadowcroft creep past Simpson to win.

Race 2 - The tide was now ebbing. With the wind direction where it was the start line was laid such that tide was flowing straight down it from the committee boat to the pin. When the breeze was up the line was unbiased, when it dropped the tide made it very port biased. This gave us great entertainment watching the previous starts, the wind dropped about 10 seconds before the Medium Handicap start. This resulted in a great bunfight at the pin, with a number of boats, including the odd Wayfarer, having to gybe round to cross the start.

Our start was similarly biased, everyone tacking onto port shortly after the gun. The wind then died. Those that had tacked early were able to find the remaining breeze, those that had waited (like we did) and gone left were stuffed. Ian Simpson rounded in the lead, followed by Paul Yeadon, Jake Richardson and Alistair Lea.

The wind then started filling in from behind allowing the back markers to catch up. The two leading Sea Cadet boats helmed by Jake Richardson and Alistair Lea opted to drop their spinnakers at the gybe onto the second leg, allowing Meadowcroft to pull past in what was now quite a decent breeze - I even had to use the toestraps at one point. Paul Yeadon was also able to pass Alistair Lea, but not Sea Cadets Jake Richardson and Joshua Edwards who held on for a highly creditable third place. Ian Simpson and Dave Bardwell's lead, however, was convincing and we could not catch them.

Race 3 - We were delayed a few minutes as both the Langstone Harbour dredgers made their way out to collect another load of gravel from off of Selsey Bill. This time the wind and tide played ball, and the line was un-biased. By this time, with the ebb tide fully flowing, going right up the beat paid, the windward mark just being in strong tide. This nearly caught out Meadowcroft who had to shoot up to just round the mark on the second lap. Sailing as low on the run also paid, as the ebbing tide was sweeping the fleet to the right, Meadowcroft was able to sneak past Simpson this way. By the end of the run the tide was getting a bit low, everyone discovered that they couldn't fully lower their centreboards at the final leeward mark. Paul Yeadon won with Meadowcroft second.

Time then to head up to Locks SC for the hog roast.

Sunday dawned exactly as forecast – horrid. After watching a few hardy windsurfers the race officer decided to abandon, and the race was now to pack up boats before we all got too wet. But not before the presentations to the Lightning and Wanderer fleets and later in the day there was a four-curry supper at Langstone SC.

Huge thanks to all three clubs for so smoothly combining their efforts and resources to produce yet another memorable event.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3Pts
11541Philip MeadowcroftAdam WickendenHenley/Salcombe YC12-23
21004Ian SimpsonDavid BardwellTudor SC21-33
31626Paul YeadonLiz NorthWhitstable YC3-414
41707Jake RichardsonJoshua EdwardsBarry Sea Cadets43-47
51689George MitchellBeau DethridgeReigate Sea Cadets55-510
61092Robert CartwrightPeter RouseWarsash SC(RET)6612
71746Alistair LeaGuy VradyScarborough Sea Cadets67-713
81688Ella GambellOllie GambellSheppey Sea Cadets7(RET)DNC17
91404Frank AthertonDavid GascoignePilkington SCDNCDNC(DNC)20

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