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Cherub National Championship at Plymouth, sponsored by Allen

by Andrew Peters 25 Jun 2019 07:03 BST 13-16 June 2019

If wet and windy is your thing then you should have been at the 2019 Cherub Nationals in Plymouth sponsored by Allen.

Held over four testing days in mid June it was more akin to early season sailing than a summer nationals. However the consistent wind was bound to shake up the leader board from the past few Nationals which had much more mixed conditions. They key question was would the wind be too much for the foiler or would they disappear off into the distance?

One Cherub was successfully converted to foiling by Clive Everest after a substantial amount of work to turn his non-foiling Cherub into one that fully lifts out of the water. The weather hadn't played ball for Clive at previous Nationals but new owners the Harris brothers could luck in to win their first nationals if they could control the boat in the breeze forecast.

There were a few nervous looks as the Cherubs and Canoes rigged up in the shelter of the Mountbatten Centre. A slate grey sky and persistent drizzle was swept around the headland by a stiff breeze. Lulled into a false sense of security by the protected nature of the launching a few boats went with big rigs, a decision some were to regret.

The first race passed in an uncertainty of gloom. The weather made it difficult to see the marks and the wind made it difficult to control the boats. After a 45 minute race the PRO decided enough was enough and sent the fleet ashore to wait a better weather window. What the initial race proved was that the Harris brothers could control the foiler in a breeze an ominous sign for the championship ambitions of Paul Croote and Andy Whapshot the renowned masters of windy races.

After a couple of hours of consuming hot drinks and looking at live weather readings the fleet were sent out again. A reduced number of boats launched, some with small sails to be greeted with much more benign conditions. The foiler put on its small sails expecting feisty winds but in the end they couldn't foil consistently allowing Marmite (Paul and Andy) plus Usagi (Andy and Jill Peters) to beat them in the 2nd race. With a bit more breeze for race 3 though they were off like the proverbial butchers dog winning the race from Marmite and Usagi. Following racing the AGM was well attended as was the traditional curry that followed. Is anyone going to take inspiration from the toilet seats for a new paint job?

Day 2 dawned much like day 1, windy but with a little less breeze at least to start with. 3 testing races were held in a building breeze, the final race a real classic blue sky and 20 plus knots type of affair. Peak gusts were up at 29 knts which is quite challenging for a boat described in the Olympic trials as 'too difficult for Olympians'. The main talking point of the day was the Harris brothers capsize in race 2 on the bear away which not only gave them some nice bruises but also broke their jib car forcing retirement from races 2 and 3 on the day. With discards now gone they could afford no further errors or the championship would likely go to Marmite the masters of the breeze. Martin and Una in the newly shod King Tubby were seen blasting around in their 97 rules Cherub and finished 3rd in the final windiest race of the day. Dean and Simon in Eleanor also blew away some cobwebs finishing 2nd in race 2. The dinner after racing provided as part of the entry fee was a quieter affair than normal as exhausted crews recovered from their exertions

Day 3 and more of the same albeit conditions had moderated a tad and everyone got to enjoy at least a couple of good races, except Jimmy of course who challenged his new steed EJ a little too much resulting in an early bath. With the more moderate conditions the foiler dominated winning all 3 races at a canter. Marmite had the 2nd best day to consolidate 2nd place and keep up the chase for first and Usagi consolidated 3rd place albeit their title challenge was over. A BBQ and beer finished off the day appropriately.

The final day was groundhog. More wet and windy causing what can best be described as an enthusiasm deficit for a large proportion of the fleet. In fact all but the leading 2 who were sent out to decide the title boat on boat gladiator style. Could Marmite force the foiler into an error or could the Harris speed advantage enable them to sail conservatively and avoid trouble. Easier said than done in any Cherub when the wind was consistently over 20 knts and gusting substantially more.

Watched from a distance by the rest of the fleet a game of tortoise and hare commenced. Marmite dependable in a breeze chasing the foiler around looking to capitalise on any errors. Unfortunately for Marmite the foilers errors (and there were a few capsizes) were not sufficient to to take the edge off the folier speed advantage until the very last race by which point it was to late and the Harris brothers were victorious claiming their first Nationals after getting closer and close with previous boats.

Congratulations to Jonny and Alex, commiserations to Paul and Andy, bridesmaids for the 2nd year in a row. Many thanks to Plymouth Youth Sailing and the Mountbatten Centre in particular Adrian Kemp the organiser and Keith Kendal our PRO. Also thank you to Allen our sponsors who have their equipment liberally sprinkled around the Cherub fleet.

Of course with the Cherub fleet in addition to the overall prizes we also award some perpetual prizes for things other than race places. There are as keenly fought over as the overall awards. The highlight of the prizegiving is usually the awarding of the spanking paddle for worst off water behaviour and the Didgery don't for the team that promised so much but delivered so little. Decorum prevents the publication of the acts leading to Martin being spanked and we congratulate Joe White for making the Didgery Don't his own for the 2nd year. The Harris brothers took home the coveted miners lamps 'The Davy' for their almost championship ending capsize on day 2.

With next years Nationals already organised for late August in Mumbles and the following year in mid July at the sailing centre in Weymouth and some very competitive Cherubs for sale there is no better time to get yourself a huge grin for very little money.

Overall Results:
If you took part in the Cherub nationals then enter your Gear Guide information here

1st A&E, Alex & Jonny Harris (Dee SC)
2nd Marmite, Paul Croote and Andy Whapshot (Chew Valley Lake SC)
3rd Usagi Yojimbo, Jill and Andrew Peters (Queen Mary SC)
1st 97 Rules: King Tubby, Martyn Denchfield and Una Rudman (Staunton Harold SC)

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