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Allen Lightning 40th Anniversary National Championship at Northampton Sailing Club

by Simon Hopkins 3 Oct 2018 06:44 BST 22-23 September 2018
Robbie Claridge vs. Paul White during the Lightning 40th Anniversary Nationals at Northampton © NSC

The weather gods were playing tricks with us all week before the event with threats of gales and terrible weather but this had not put off the 24 boats that had pre-entered. Unfortunately it may have had some effect on the fact we were joined by just one more entry on the day!

Friday night saw the hardy core of the fleet meet at Northampton for pre-drinks and yes, it was certainly blowing dogs off leads that evening. However the following day dawned and it was lighter for sure and certainly sailable! Sunday was still uncertain with 40mph winds predicted, so most hit the water thinking this was going to be a one day event.

As we lined up for race one it was a very port biased line with only one place to start, which we would get used to over the next few races. Marcus Ingram returning to the fleet put his borrowed Mk1 Giles club boat in the right place by the pin and headed left. However with the breeze still up Simon Hopkins started to climb over the top of him. In the ensuing taking battle between these two no one noticed Penny Yarwood go hard left and sail in to lead both of them at the first mark. Despite Paul White then Robbie Claridge sailing passed Simon, Penny had enough of an advantage to take race one. Marcus came home 5th and Jason Gallagher 6th.

Race two and it was the same culprits by the pin, however this time it was John Claridge who came in from the left to be first the windward mark ahead of Simon, Robbie, Marcus and Paul. Robbie once again used his superior down wind speed to pass Simon and challenge his Dad. This must have spurred John on as these 2 pulled away from the rest but despite constant pressure John held on for the win from Robbie whilst Simon held Paul off for 3rd and Jeremy Cooper rounded out the top five.

After lunch the wind had dropped considerable and was trying to make its mind up which direction it wanted to blow from, leaving some big patches on the course. These are the ones the author is really good at finding so not sure what happed up the front except Robbie secured his first win of the weekend ahead of Paul and Penny. Matt Pickett, another returning Lightning sailor found the lighter winds much to his liking and came home 4th ahead of Marcus.

For race four the wind had steadied and found its direction so after a course realignment the fleet was off on yet another very port biased line. After a general recall Marcus took the pin for the 4th time that day and headed left. This time he resisted the urge to hedge right, judged the left lay line perfectly and rounded first ahead of the chasing pack which had some new faces this race in Caroline Hollier and Mark Langston. However nothing could stop Robbie moving through to 2nd and Simon managed to hold off Caroline and Mark for 3rd in the dying breeze.

So as the fleet retired to the clubhouse there had been a different winner of every race with a standard Mark 1 Giles boat leading everyone home in the last race. Overnight the leaders were Robbie, Paul then Simon. We awaited the decision of the weather gods to see if we could race on the Sunday. Sunday dawned, whilst not sunny, there was certainly no wind. A lot of head scratching was going on as people recalled only the night before a forecast of 30mph + winds. This was to be decided by 2 races in light shifty winds.

In race five it was once again hard for the author to see what was going on at the front of the fleet. Needless to say it was the lightweights, a club the author is not a member off, who were off at the front. I am sure there was lots of close racing and position switching but who knows? The result was Robbie took his second win of the weekend ahead of Penny and Mark once again had a strong race in 3rd ahead of John and Jeremy.

For the final race I have to say the author excelled himself to find the biggest hole of the day just to the right of the windward mark and watched the entire fleet sail passed from the left. At least I had good company in Mark who had been up the front in the preceding race. At the front Paul lead from John, Robbie and Penny. Rob slipped past John set of in pursuit of Paul and as Penny was about to do the same John decided he had enough of being passed to windward and in the following antics Penny failed to keep clear and had to do turns during which she capsized dropping her out of contention. This did however let Jason Gallagher through into 4th. At the front Paul led until the last leg when Robbie managed to get through for his 3rd win.

Overall Robbie Claridge retained his National Title with Paul White once again runner up, that's 3 years running and five times now Paul has been the bridesmaid. Good job he is getting married next year at least he can be promoted to Groom. Penny came home 3rd and took the ladies title again ahead of John Claridge in 4th and 1st Veteran. 5th Marcus Ingram in the first Giles boat and 6th Simon Hopkins taking the newly presented Masters trophy. The Silver fleet was won by Jeremy Cooper and Josh Hemmingway-Lawson was first junior.

Many thanks to Allen, who not only supply great fittings found across all new boats, but also generously provided prizes for the top three and spot prizes for everyone else.

As the event closed on the 40th Anniversary Nationals, we are all in agreement the class has close competitive racing as always. The new mark 3 hulls produced by John Claridge have certainly given the class a boost but as Paul proved with his mark 2 and Marcus proved with his Mk1 Giles any boat can still compete with a decent nut loose on the tiller.

Overall Results:
If you finished in the top ten at the Lightning 368 nationals then enter your Gear Guide information here

PosSail NoHelmClubFleetR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1st429Robert ClaridgeRoyal LymingtonGold‑3212117
2nd406Paul WhiteDraycoteGold242‑118218
3rd425Penny YarwoodUp RiverGold1‑7372720
4th427John ClaridgeRoyal LymingtonGold816‑94322
5th342Marcus IngramUp RiverSilver5‑9516623
6th428Simon HopkinsUp RiverGold439310‑1329
7th7Jeremy CooperShotwick LakeSilver757‑85832
8th413Caroline HollierWest OxfordshireGold‑1010847534
9th421Hugh SpencerR. Plymouth CorinthianSilver‑1361169941
10th322Mark LangstonBeccles AmateurGold‑161212531244
11th417Jason GallagherDenholmeSilver6(DNF)141314451
12th420Martin ClarkeHykehamSilver‑14111312111057
13th433John ButlerSutton in AshfieldSilver915‑1710121460
14th426Matthew PickettUp RiverSilver158416(DNC)DNC67
15th267Gary TompkinsHuntsSilver‑20181015131167
16th110Ian RansonBoltonSilver1114‑1514151569
17th430Graham LazellUp RiverSilver18‑191618161785
18th402Stephen HodgesonDenholmeSilver171321‑22171987
19th407Bryan WestleyChaseGold(DNC)DNF1817181691
20th409Lee BratleyManor ParkSilver12172019(DNC)DNC92
21st40Josh Hemingway‑LawsonHuntsSilver‑21161920191892
22nd335Andrea LazellUp RiverSilver22202221(DNC)DNC109
23rd408Paul HardmanGirtonSilver19212323(DNC)DNC110

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