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International Canoe Open at Aldeburgh Yacht Club

by Shaun Anderson 8 Apr 2019 19:49 BST 6-7 April 2019
International Canoes at Aldeburgh © Shaun Anderson

For the first International Canoe Open of the year eleven boats descended on Aldeburgh Yacht Club on the River Alde. With high tide just round the corner the fleet set out on a Swallows and Amazon adventure in search of the ideal playground. 25 minutes of motoring for the Committee boat up stream finally located nirvana, luckily IC's don't take that long to cover the same distance.

Race 1

The fleet, a little cautious with the tide, got away at the first time of asking and within 50 yards the scene had been set for the weekend, Robin Wood in Black Betty had powered through the fleet, tacked onto port and was gone, next round the windward mark was local sailor Alistair Warren in Dragonfly closly followed by Chris Hampe in Monkeys Uncle having gone hard right up the beat and Mike Fenwick on the ark, Noahs Ark. Disaster struck Dragonfly with a broken kicker resulting in a capsize and a one way ticket to the back of the fleet. Behind Robin close battles were developing throughout the fleet with Chris finally managing to break clear from Mike on the final run to cement 2nd place.

1st - Black Betty
2nd - Monkeys Uncle
3rd - Noahs Ark

Race 2

With start line inhibitions now cast off, 4 boats hurtled towards the pin end of the line, only to realise they were 10secs too early. Phil Allen (Blunderbus) tried bailing out but unfortunately hooked the pin then proceeded to capsize on top of Dragonfly. The committee boat end was far more gentlemanly.Initially Black Betty looked well and truly stuffed pinned high about the Committee boat, but with seconds to go a gap the size of a barn door opened up and he was gone. The chasing pack was led by Steve Clarke (Money 4 Nothing), Noahs, Blunderbuss and Phil Robin in Little Scarlet. At one point the clouds parted, the sun shone down and Black Betty capsized at the leeward mark giving hope to those chasing behind. A broken kicker, after getting caught on the daggerboard during a gybe was the culprit. Money and Noah made hay and powered passed. This just made Betty more determined and by the next windward mark was back in the lead and pulling further away, eventually to win by other 5 minutes. After the calamity of the start Dragonfly found his groove, gaining places on every leg, by the final leeward mark he had recovered to 3rd behind Money, however a better final tack and the subsequent drag race ended with a 3 sec gap between the two.

1st Black Betty
2nd Dragonfly
3rd Money for Nothing

Sunday dawned, still raining! With an initial 8-10knt NE wind blowing the plan was to hold the races along the front of the Clubhouse to showcase the class however the wind decided not to play ball so it was back along the river to find a suitable area. Due to the constantly shifting wind, lack of water further upstream and shallows to prevent a true triangle it was finally decided on an L shaped course.

Race 3

With the tide rushing in, caution was the name of the game on the start line with everyone getting away cleanly. Halfway up the first beat usual service had resumed with Betty leading the pack around the top mark but this time the rest of the fleet were in close attendance, now the decision downwind, was it Right with more tide but stronger wind or Left hugging the bank in the slacker tide. Left won. Black Betty eeked out a small advantage but for once remained on the same leg as the rest of the fleet, however the remaining places were still all up for grabs which finally ended with only 115secs splitting the next 7 boats.

1st Black Betty
2nd Noahs Ark
3rd Monkeys Uncle

Race 4

With the wind having swung again there was only enough room on the river for a windward / leeward course. Once again the start was complicated with the in rushing tide resulting in 4 being over at the time of the gun, 3 returned! The fleet was now able to stretch its legs as the wind had now built to 13-15knts, though early season rustiness was becoming apparent resulting in numerous capsizes for many. The class heavyweights were enjoying the increase in pressure with Money, Monkeys Uncle and Little Scarlet revelling in the conditions. For once Betty could not be seen anywhere near the front, floundering back in 8th. Was this the race to finally break Bettys strangle hold? At the front a hustle between Money and Monkeys Uncle continued throughout with Noah battling for 3rd position along with Scarlet. Ominously the black boat silently crept through the fleet. Approaching the final mark of the course Betty had somehow managed to be in the lead, perfect gybe and powered up to the finish line, beating Monkeys Uncle by 2 secs who in turn had Money right behind, however the silence was deafening for Money as he cross the finish line. 3rd now looked like it would go to Noah however capsizing at the final mark allowed 3 others to pass. A special mention has to go to Martin Robb in the only One Design canoe who achieved an incredible 4th place (on handicap) showing that in the stronger winds and the ability to remain upright meant he could compete against the newer designs.

1st Black Betty
2nd Monkeys Uncle
3rd Little Scarlet

Race 5

With the wind and rain increasing further and the overall win confirmed only 6 boats decided to line up for the final race. Tiredness was finally taking its toll. Dragonfly flew into the lead off the startline and never looked like being caught. He wasn't, despite Monkeys Uncles best efforts, closing the gap lap by lap. Little Scarlet crossed in 3rd and when fatigue truly set in Money crossed the line as the final finisher in 4th.

1st Dragonfly
2nd Monkeys Uncle
3rd Little Scarlet

A big thank you to Aldeburgh Sailing Club for providing the hospitality and a great weekend's racing.

Overall Robin Wood, the 4 time and current World Champion and European Champion once again put on a demonstration into IC sailing however the rest of the fleet are closely matched where one can easily record anything between 2nd and last! With 6 new boats due to be launched later this year and cheaper One Designs being snapped up the class is looking in good shape.

Next event: Castle Cove 27 28 Apr.

Overall Results:

PosBoat NameSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5Pts
1stBlack Betty344Robin WoodLlandegfedd SC1111(DNS)4
2ndMonkey's Uncle340Chris HampeRWYC2‑73229
3rdNoah's Ark341Mike FenwickCastle Cove SC3426(DNS)15
4thLittle Scarlet328Phil RobinHayling Island SC‑5543315
5thMoney 4 Nothing338Steve ClarkeLlandegfedd SC435(OCS)416
6thDragon Fly317Alistair WarrenAYC‑8277117
7thBlunderbuss343Phil AllenChichester YC6685(DNF)25
8th 267Martin RobbCCSC7894(DNF)28
9thMonkey308Richard BowersCCSC99118(DNF)37
10thThe Last Horizon346John EllisScaling Dam SC10(DNS)6DNFDNS40
11thHard and Fast336Rob StebbingCastle Cove SC(DNS)DNS10DNFDNS46

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