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DF95 National Championship at Eastbourne & District Model Yacht Club

by Tim Long 24 May 2019 16:08 BST 18-19 May 2019
DF95 Nationals at Eastbourne © Dave Pickett

With a bumper entry of 60 boats there were several key points for this weekend, be there in plenty of time for breakfast otherwise the amazing catering ladies will run out of eggs and the other thing is you'll need a comfy chair. We had a good overseas entry too with six Nations represented; GBR, USA, SWE, ITA, SUI and NED and these guys combined to produce the biggest fleet of DF95s raced anywhere in the world at National Championship level.

The usual UK crowd were joined by a good number of new skippers taking part in their first Nationals and help was given as and when it was needed by the top skippers, passing on knowledge of tuning and boat setup.

Friday practice was a relaxed affair with maybe half the fleet getting tuned up in a gentle North East breeze, this was followed by the usual Friday night social in the Tomato and Cheese Italian restaurant which provided the usual Saturday morning hangover for many.

Saturday morning saw the competitors greeted by a light and shifty East (ish) breeze which saw the race team out in the boat laying and then relaying the course, a task that kept them occupied all weekend. The four seeding races kicked off and were duly won by local skipper Ken Binks, Shaun Priestley, Buzz Coleman and Paolo Cappa. We were very lucky to have any breeze at all with forecasts earlier in the week suggesting nothing at all. However, lucky or not, with the light breeze and the shifty conditions it was a sure thing that we wouldn't be beating any records for the number of races completed over two days!

Race two saw Paolo build on his lead with another bullet, Swede Jonas was second and Tim "Snackers" Long was in third spot. It wasn't until race three that Tushy got his act together and won a race with Jonas in second and local skipper Geoff Ball in third.

It seemed that the trick was getting off the line cleanly and in some sort of breeze was the key thing and then having the presence of mind to avoid the inevitable raft up at the windward mark would usually see you pop out of the spreader in good shape for the run.

Race four had Paolo winning again, jeez he was fast, with Holland's Tjakko Keizer second and Lincoln's own Mick Chamberlain in third spot. Race five and another course change, although there were that many I can't be sure! Snackers took the bullet from Buzz with Paolo in third spot, still looking racy. Race six saw Jonas charging to the front once more but he was covered all the way around the course by Snackers who was starting to look like he might be doing ok. Third spot was taken by Craig Richards of Windrush MYC.

That was the end of day one and the standings saw Paolo leading, three points clear of Snackers with Tushy seven points adrift of Snackers.

The usual Saturday night social was held at Cosmo, and was well attended, Paolo and Tim got an early night with Tushy out on the town until late...or was it early the next day!

Sunday morning and the breeze was more from the North which saw the course laid on the far bank, close the the seaward end of the pond. We started with the B fleet on race seven and it gave those A fleet skippers a chance to see where the breeze was, and indeed wasn't. Jonas started where he had left off and took the win with Tushy looking fresh in second spot and Dave Andrews in third.

There was a reschedule to three fleets at this point which meant that there was a little less sitting around to be done but the fleets were now bigger so that breeze out on the left might have looked tempting but would you end up being a hero or a zero... crikey this was a tough regatta!

Race eight was Tjakko's and he beat Tushy and Paolo. Paolo fared better in nine taking the win from Uncle Derek Preistley and Buzz.

Now Uncle Derek's weekend didn't go to plan at all. First thing Saturday whilst putting on his race bib it was caught by a gust of wind and he got the corner of it jabbed into his eye, causing it to bleed. Off to A&E for a few hours and when he returned he had tumbled down the board and wasn't in the right frame of mind. Still, some excellent looking "Stevie Wonder" sunglasses and a few glasses of red on Saturday evening saw him revived for Sunday's racing where he did fare a little better.

Anyhow, race ten was Tushy's from Buzz and Tjakko.

Race eleven saw the top three of Tushy, Snackers and Buzz all place around tenth spot, were they covering each other or was it just luck that saw them there. The race was won by Derek, proving that even with a gammy eye he could still deliver the goods. USA skipper Chuck LeMahieu took second spot after a tough weekend with Wayne Stobbs a very creditable third.

So, to the final race of the championship, Snackers needed Tush to finish way down the fleet to have any chance of taking the win, Buzz was only three behind Snackers so there was no chance of a relaxing final race. Wayne charged to the win from Dave Andrews with Peter Baldwin taking third spot.

How did the top three fare, well, Tushy took fourth spot, securing him the title, Buzz finished in eighth spot and Snackers....well he didn't finish, with less than a metre to the finish, two spots in front of Buzz his rudder servo failed and the Wonkaboat did merry circles whilst the fleet streamed past him. Frustrating to say the least...

The Mayor of Eastbourne turned up to present the prizes and Tushy got to put his name of the trophy once again having sailed an excellent second day in his lucky shorts. Second spot was taken in the end by Snackers despite the final race drama 18 points behind Tushy on 54. Buzz took third just two points behind Snackers with Paolo in fourth spot after a disaster of an afternoon, getting stuck in B fleet and racking up some points.

Swiss skipper Vasco Aurino took fifth spot, Shaun Priestley sixth, Craig Richards seventh, Nigel Brown eighth, Mick Chamberlain ninths with Tjakko roundiing out the top ten.

As with all the DF events that we race the margins down the fleet were tight, and you could often throw a blanket over four places which were separated by less than a handful of points.

A huge thank you must go to the Eastbourne club, especially Jes and the race team who battled relentlessly to get courses set and then tweaked and then removed and re laid as the conditions dictated. It was as tough for the race team as it was for the skippers and they handled it in a dedicated and professional way, many, many thanks for taking the time to allow us to race. The other big shout out needs to go to the catering crew, a very dedicated bunch of ladies who kept all of us fed and watered over the weekend with freshly prepared breakfasts, cakes, meals and drinks, you were all faultless.

So, congratulations to John Tushingham, the 2019 DF95 UK National Champion.

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