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Sailingfast 2018 728x90

Allen Lightning 368 National Championship at Northampton Sailing Club

by John Butler 3 Jun 14:46 BST 1-2 June 2019

The Allen 2019 National Championship (also part of the Noble Marine Insurance Travellers trophy series) was hosted again this year by Northampton Sailing Club, with the class sharing the course with the Phantoms who were holding their Inland Championship over the same weekend and started first in every race.

The whole weekend provided testing conditions, especially on the Sunday with the three morning races in strong and gusty conditions. Miles, the excellent race officer, set a consistent "d" shaped course with a combination of beats, runs and two short reaching legs.

Race 1

After the gun, the shifty wind up the beat made for an interesting battle between Paul White and Simon Hopkins with both of them exchanging tacks up to the first mark.

Simon rounded first with Paul a close second and it was nip and tuck downwind to the leeward mark. Jason Gallagher then came through in third and maintained his position behind the leading two offwind. He then proceeded to have a horrible 2nd beat, and Caroline Hollier and Jeremy Cooper closed in on him, and he only just managed to hold them off at the windward mark.

Meanwhile, at the very front, Paul proceeded to pull away on the second beat by catching the shifts just right, and extended his lead on the subsequent run and reaches to finish well clear of Simon in second. Jason was a very distant third with Jeremy in fourth, and Martin Evans crept up to pass Caroline by the end of the race.

Despite his superior boatspeed, Robbie could only recover to tenth after arriving at the club way late and starting plumb last and considerably behind the fleet.

Race 2

In an avoiding incident 30 seconds before the start, John Butler managed a spectacular windward roll capsize close to the committee boat and caused a number of other boats to have to steer around him, which created a "hole" in the line at the committee boat end.

It was a very shifty first beat. The people who went right actually came out on top, and one of those people was Jeremy, who was just lifted and lifted straight to the mark and built a huge lead. In contrast, Jason started at the port end and was subsequently right at the back of the fleet.

Gary Tompkins rounded second and had a nice gap at the head of a small chasing pack including Caroline, Robbie and a few others.

As the numerically larger Phantom fleet had a general recall, and subsequently started after the Lightnings, they started catching up and passing the Lightnings and caused a mass blanketing effect downwind.

On the second beat Jeremy managed to maintain the gap to Robbie, but both of them pulled well clear of the others. Robbie was really trying to get past him, but Jeremy stayed ahead at the windward mark and they both set off down the final run relatively close together.

Meanwhile Jason had closed in on the slower boats and had a storming second beat and run that brought him back into contention.

With marginally quicker boatspeed, Robbie squeezed past Jeremy in the last 100 yards before the leeward mark, and he covered Jeremy on the short hike to the finishing line.

Jason eventually emerged and passed Caroline and Paul, and at the finish Paul surged past Caroline to take fourth.

Race 3

Off the start line there was a very big shift, and as a consequence the main contenders who had started in the middle, Caroline, Paul and Jeremy, were those who had the best starts. With the huge shift the whole fleet tacked onto port very quickly, and both Robbie and Jeremy squeezed out Paul from both above and below.

Playing the shifts up the rest of the beat, Robbie stayed more to the left, with Caroline to the right, and they rounded in that order. Simon then came into the mix, with Jason and Jeremy closing, that was until a very eventful second beat.

Three quarters of the way up the second windward leg, the wind started fluctuating wildly and Jason sailed into an absolute hole while fully hiked out and the boat came down on top of him. Like a pair of synchronised swimmers, the same fate also happened to Jeremy and both boats were turtle for a minute or so. That gave Simon a big gap over Jason and Jeremy.

When they eventually got to the windward mark, Robbie and Simon were well clear, but the wind died and Jason was lucky to be ahead of the majority of the Phantom fleet who were catching and passing the Lightnings. Caroline and Jeremy were unfortunate to be drowned by a group of Phantoms at the windward mark and between there and the short distance to the spacer mark this allowed Jason to get away.

There followed a painful run in little or no wind to the mid-course turning mark and positions were maintained on the first of the two short reaches. On the second reach Jason was covering Jeremy and Caroline, but they got sailed over by another big bunch of Phantoms at the final leeward mark which allowed the recovering Paul White, who at the start of the last lap had been back in eight place, to make a remarkable recovery and nip in to take a sneaky fourth position at the line after Caroline got severely baulked by the Phantoms.

So after a very eventful day's racing, it was the ever consistent Jason Gallagher that headed the rankings ahead of Paul White and Simon Hopkins.

Unfortunately Simon had to head off on Saturday to get a flight abroad, so took no further part in the proceedings on Sunday.

Race 4

Sunday dawned breezy, and with a 9.30am start it was a day for those who love their early mornings... It was blowing, blowing really hard, straight down the main section of the lake.

In the first race of the day, Jason headed for the port end of the line, right on the pin, and for once really nailed it and crossed the fleet completely on port. He then proceeded to forget to consolidate his master move to stay with the other main contenders, and carried on up the starboard side of the course. It was hard hiking all the way to the windward mark, with overpowering gusts causing some capsizes and boats stuck in irons when tacking.

Robbie and Jeremy kept to the left side of the rhumb line, which proved to be the best strategy as they rounded 1 and 2, although Paul played the middle upwind and then soon got into second ahead of Jeremy on the runs and reaches with far superior boatspeed, extending the gap to him downwind and giving Robbie something to think about. Whilst most helms nervously navigated the runs, and enjoyed full-on planing reaches, the gybes at the turning mark proved to be too much for some, especially further down the fleet.

At the end it was Robbie, Paul and Jeremy, with Jason recovering to a distant fourth after a stonking second beat, then a full rolling capsize at the bottom mark after the penultimate run.

Race 5

The wind was still rising, and sea sailor Ben Twist was soon revelling in the even stronger breeze and led out from the middle of the line after a big shift.

Unfortunately Ben got stuck in irons when he had a substantial lead, and Jason also capsized whilst tacking, allowing the ever competitive Jeremy, in his much older Mk1 boat, to lead the group out onto the run. Unusually, Robbie found himself behind both Jeremy and Paul who was also sailing flat and hard upwind.

Robbie then went far right on the run, and unlike the other two didn't have to gybe at the leeward mark, which was quite an advantage when a 25 knot squall hit just as they all were rounding it, and this allowed Robbie to get away. Paul consolidated second ahead of Jeremy, with Jason then staying upright ahead for a while ahead of heavies Bryan Westley and John Butler. Jason then took another dunking whilst tacking, neatly stepping over onto the centreboard, then promptly slid off it into the lake with a big splash, finally ending up eighth.

By far the lightest in the fleet, Caroline Hollier deserves special mention for a great last lap, taking Bryan, John and Ben downwind to come in fourth ahead of Ben, despite finding it a real struggle upwind.

Race 6

The last race was an even start from the committee boat/middle end of the line, and as usual Robbie, Jeremy and Jason went over to the left side. Meanwhile Paul and John, making another appearance towards the front in the considerably stronger conditions, played the shifts up the centre. Robbie rounded first, with Jeremy, Ben and Jason in attendance. Robbie stayed ahead on the planing run, loosely covering Paul and Jeremy who were having a good battle.

Ben was pushing Jason, and both of them rapidly closed on Jeremy. Up the second beat both John and Ian Ranson came into play, whilst Ben was still in contention.

All of them survived the first of the two reaches, but although he rounded ahead of Ian and John, Ben lost control after a successful turning gybe and dropped it in to windward, causing John to take avoiding action. This allowed Ian to blithely sail past John to windward on the second reach and be clear ahead of John at the leeward mark. The next beat turned out to be the final one, as after over three hours on the water in strenuous conditions, the race officer decided to take pity on the tiring survivors, and shorten course and finish after the top mark.

At the front it was the usual three of Robbie, Paul and Jeremy, but Jason decided it was time for another party trick and as he tacked for the line, he promptly capsized and managed to get his mainsheet wrapped around his rudder. John had taken Ian again upwind and closed to within 10 metres of Jason who was by now back in his boat. Jason managed to bear off as he rounded to finish between the committee boat and the spacer mark, then promptly repeated his earlier theatrics with another spectacular capsize on the line, as hed forgotten that he couldn't let out his mainsheet as it was still wrapped around his rudder.

All in all a thrilling and eventful weekend, with Robbie nailing yet another Championship win, his seventh in the last eleven years. Paul was a solid second, with Jeremy taking both the Giles Trophy for the leading Mk1 older boat, and also the Veterans cup. Caroline was Ladies Champion in fifth, whilst Jason was fourth, taking the Silver fleet and Masters title.

Thanks go to Northampton SC yet again for their excellent organisation and facilities, Allen Brothers who sponsored the event and provided many of the prizes, and builder John Claridge who generously donated the commemorative polo shirts.

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

Robbie Claridge 429 Mk3 - National Champion
Jeremy Cooper 117 Mk1 - Giles Trophy Winner & Veterans Champion
Jason Gallagher 417 Mk2 - Silver Fleet Winner & Masters Champion
Caroline Hollier 413 Mk2 - Ladies Champion

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1st429Robert ClaridgeRoyal Lymington‑10111115
2nd406Paul White 14‑522211
3rd117Jeremy Cooper ‑42433315
4th417Jason GallagherDenholme3334‑8417
5th413Caroline HollierWest Oxfordshire65774‑929
6th435Ben TwistBroadstairs79‑1355733
7th150Martin EvansCookham Reach5768(DNC)834
8th441Ian RansonBolton88‑1069637
9th433John Butler 9‑13997539
10th428Simon HopkinsUp River262(DNC)DNCDNC40
11th407Bryan WestleyAldridge11‑12111061149
12th427Peter WitheringtonBurghfield12‑14811111254
13th402Stephen HodgsonDenholme‑13111212101055
14th267Gary TomkinsHunts14101413(DNC)DNC66

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