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Marblehead Vane Classic and Vintage weekend at Fleetwood Model Yacht Club

by Tony Wilson 15 May 20:44 BST 11-12 May 2019
Marblehead Vane Classic and Vintage weekend at Fleetwood © Gareth Jones

No need for waterproofs, The weather had changed for the better and we were in the middle of a 'High' so welcome 'Mr Blue Sky'.

The Oldies were gathered up at Fleetwood along with their Skippers for what was going to be a great weekend of non radio 'Free sailing'. Divided into two classes of 1930 - 1960's for the very old and around the Pre 1980 for the newer Classics with fin and bulb.

Again a great show was put on for the passer by with some real stunning, head turning boats and even included again ones that had been sailed with same Skipper in their teenage years.

Off to the start blocks and we had 11 boats registered. Boat one takes a bye and this filters right through by the corresponding number. Choice of start position alternates at each end, to whether you want weather side and this seems to be usually taken on the beat leg but not always, as you can gain the 3 points if you win it as against 2 points from the Run.

The flat spots on the lake were being filled and the wind seemed to be picking up just enough to make it look reasonable for big sails. Alan Oxlade started the races at this end and Eric Watkinson was on the receiving end and would have the sometime tricky decision to whom snatched those valuable points.

The couple of classics we had didn't get off to such a great start and come to that most of the boats were having many teething problems, as bits had been changed, or the boats just hadn't been out for a good while.

Two of the beauties on the water 'Tempest and Ballerina' had been doing really well and had hardly lost a race up to lunchtime, except for when they were racing against each other and Alan took the win again.

Derek was having early trimming issues and a lost vane on one of the starts, even though tethered it wasn't making his day any easier. Keith was able to fish it out from the depths with a crab stick and net also picking out a crab at the same time. Peter Whiteside was slowly gathering points and was also having a scorecard with mixed results.

Boats had a variety of control methods and as well as the typical Vane steered by a feather, some had what is called 'Braine gear' and is a brass like looking quadrant that is linked to the rudder. This has some of us newer kids on the block puzzled, but we are learning all the while and slowly working it out.

We had a short coffee break and then continued for a short while for a few more legs that lead us nicely up to lunch and change rigs time. Most dropped down a size unless you were brave enough to chance it, as the wind had just as forecast picked up from about 8MPH to mid teens.

The wind had been mostly from the west with only the slightest deviation all day and we had completed 6 full heats by the end of the day. Boats hosed down and for some that were staying the weekend and the regular locals a few tables were booked for the evening meal in somewhere nice in Fleetwood.

On to Sunday and a slightly earlier start with what looked like similar conditions. Alan and Tony with their prospective boats had been top of the tree, but could they continue in the good run. Peter Isles due to hull damage had an exchange of boats and was now on to joining us with 'Bloodaxe' but as he was still fettling his boat decided to take his bye early. Derek was now having better success and Peter W. was continuing to show forward movement on his score card.

Legs were starting to tire and Derek welcomed another pair of legs and a stick to his team, with our John.The wind stayed on the light side and didn't get up to the same strength as Saturday, so big sails were the wise choice throughout the day. An earlier finish was in order as some had travelled great distances and wanted to beat the traffic for the return journey.

To the boathouse and for some adding up put Alan Bell with his much beloved boat Tempest as winner for the weekend. The four Trophies were divided among the worthy winners for the Vintage and Classics.

It had been a really good weekend with very favourable weather. Now and then you could see folks bewilderment into what was controlling these boats. And when a lady asked Derek how they could even sail up wind. In a word, he said 'Magic'. Yes in the same words, the weekend was just Magic.

The next Vane sailing at Fleetwood is for a couple of one days with the 36R, usually on Saturdays. And then to the biggie in August we have the mammoth 'A' Boats. Eight days of 'A'.

Archive film footage of the 1930's at Fleetwood have hundreds if not thousands of spectators gathered on the banks watching these far distant competitions. Would't it be great if we could get this back, but I suppose we can only dream.

And again thanks to our race officers Alan and Eric.

Total possible points up for grabs 50 points.

Results:

Vintage Walter Jones Trophy - Alan Bell 41pts
Vintage Hayes Trophy - Peter Whiteside 37pts
Classic Mayoral Cup - Tim Daniels 16pts
Classic Pearson Trophy - Gareth Jones 15pts

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