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Heron Southern Championship at Priory Sailing Club, Bedford

by John Banks 23 Sep 2018 20:53 BST 1 September 2018
Race start during the Heron Southerns at Priory SC © John Banks

The success and resurgence of popularity of the very adaptable Heron dinghy continues at a pace with eighteen competitors.

This may well be in part to the fact that it can be sailed single with a handicap 1343, or double handed at a yardstick of 1363. Also thrown in to the mix is that as the wind gets up so the movable ballast of a second person comes in to play and also the availability of a spinnaker. On the other hand, being single handed there is just the ballast of one and a jib stick. Coupled with this there can be the use of the traditional Gunter or generally the now more favoured Bermudan rig and different size jib or genoa. All these things available in a One Design hull.

The Southern Championships held at Priory Sailing Club at Bedford on 1st September 2018 was incredibly well supported and attracted visitors from all around the U.K to make up the 18 entries. There was a great atmosphere, 'good wind' meaning there was some albeit from all directions, and lovely catering from Priory Sailing Club.

It was really good fun with so many Herons on the water along with shifting winds, putting everyone's skills to the test which made for an exciting day. Thanks also go to the race officer who had the unenviable task of trying to set a course with a beat in ever changing winds. Most encouragingly, the event was also well supported by the junior sailors who sailed incredibly well and looked to be enjoying themselves. A couple of them were difficult to keep up with and are our future champions. All credit to Priory SC in encouraging younger sailors into Heron sailing and did a great job getting so many involved.

The front boats were Dave Butler, Simon Kneller (thought to be a seconded Solo sailor) and Matt Pickett. There were two boats with spinnakers, Dave Butler and Amanda Welton SC and Jo, Bewl Valley SC, but they were challenging to fly with the changeable winds and perhaps were not providing much advantage.

There were a combination of single handed and double handed boats with respective handicaps applied, which gave a good spread of abilities and excitement.

The first race was dominated by Simon Kneller who had an excellent start and then was near enough untouchable throughout the first race despite the singlehanded handicap. James Russ pulled up to second place at one point but collided with Matt Pickett at one of the buoys. After doing turns / penalties dropped back, allowing Dave Butler and Matt Pickett to slip through who finish 2nd and 3rd respectively. The race was a good length being an hour long after which there was a lunch-break before the afternoon races.

The second and third races were held back-to-back with Dave Butler getting away and staying there with Chris Thomas taking the second place Matt Pickett third place.

The third race was a chase between Dave Butler, Matt Pickett and James Russ with some fluky winds resulting in a beat up and down the lake. This was quite strange and unlucky for Matt Pickett as it took him away from the mark. As a result, Dave and James developed a clear lead on the remainder of the fleet, with Dave winning the final battle.

Overall Dave Butler took the championship with Simon Kneller second and Mathew Pickett third.

A good day all round and the Heron class look forward to more competitive racing and increasing fleet size.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmR1R2R2Pts
110340Dave Butler‑2112
210000Simon Kneller1‑534
39612Mathew Picket33‑46
410089James Russ‑16628
57565Chris Thomas(DNF)279
6930Mike de St Paer4‑13610
710312Steve Abbott64‑1010
82340Nigel Denchfield‑118513
910343Jo Mayes5‑9813
108300Gordon de Sousa(DNF)71118
119097Jon Hunt711(DNF)18
129888Joby Evans10‑14919
1310300Tony Ogborn912(DNS)21
1410048Phillip/Alex Parsons‑15101222
157703Paul Webb815(DNS)23
169885Tom Otley1316(DNS)29
179333Harvey Davies12(DNF)DNS31
186090Elaine Thomas1417(DNF)31

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