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Swallow National Championships at Bembridge Sailing Club

by Mike Samuelson 8 Jul 10:00 BST 6-7 July 2019

Champagne racing conditions on Saturday, heavy drizzle at times on Sunday and a countback to decide the overall winner certainly meant that the 2019 National Swallow National Championships held at Bembridge over the weekend are likely to be remembered for some years to come!

Eleven Swallows from Itchenor SC made it over the Bembridge on Friday afternoon in readiness for their National Championships over the weekend. Fearing the passage race would be a drift and a tow, those who did race were pleasantly surprised and actually had a nice race over. Having been mid-fleet for the first half of the race, Merlin (S94) helmed by Julian Kinross found herself out in front but was unable to hold off the late challenge by Skua (S3) helmed by Harry Roome and Blue Tit (S80) helmed by Paul Giles.

After the briefing on Saturday morning by the Chief RO, Jonathan Peel, the crews were taken out by launch to their boats on the Under Tyne moorings and rigged ready for a 12:00 start to the first race. However, with zero wind anywhere to be seen, patience (and lots of sun cream) was the order of the day as the forecast was suggesting a nice breeze would materialise by early afternoon! In the event a pleasant Southerly breeze steadily built and after a 40 minute postponement, the first race got under way with all eleven boats jostling for the best position. Two boats were called OCS and although S82 (Marengo) returned, unfortunately for them, S70 (Curlew) did not.

The fleet quickly split as they headed up towards the windward mark and a spreader. With the inshore boats benefiting from a starboard tack lift near the Lifeboat Station, S3 (Skua) helmed by Harry Roome rounded first and proceeded to establish an unassailable lead ahead of S93 (Gwahir) helmed by Mike Wigmore and S95 (Osprey) helmed by James Hartley.

As the first race was finishing the wind veered 20% to the SSW'est, so there was a short postponement to the start of the second race as the course was adjusted slightly. After a rather more cautious start and no one pushing their luck, most of the fleet chose the right hand side of the course.

With the breeze staying pretty constant in both direction & strength (8 knots), S93 (Gwahir) led from the start and although pressed by S3 (Skua) and S86 (Migrant) helmed by Chris Fox, they made winning look easier than it no doubt was!

The third and final race of the day got away to another clean start and saw some tight racing in the 'champagne' conditions.

At the end of the first round, the leading six boats were within 30 seconds of each other. Despite a lot of pressure from James in S95 (Osprey), Mike in S93 (Gwahir) held his nerve and finished a boat length ahead; S3 (Skua) was third and S94 (Merlin) being helmed for the race by Mimie Currey was fourth.

At the end of the first day's racing, and with no discard, Gwahir was overall first with 4 points, Skua was second with 6 points and Migrant was third with 13 points.

After an excellent dinner in the Club on Saturday evening, and faced with a dull & drizzly morning, it was a slightly subdued group who met at BSC at 10 o'clock ready to be taken out to their boats at Under Tyne. Overnight the wind had backed to the North East, although by the time everyone was ready and the course was set, it had veered to the South East between 8 to 10 knots. Although they all came back, three boats over cooked it at the start of the fourth race (S67, S76 & S80).

With the windward mark & the spreader barely visible, the majority of the fleet opted for the right side of the course. Spotting the two small 'tube' inflatables of the leeward gate was certainly quite testing and it was interesting to see such a variety of track being taken as the fleet tried to work out whether there was a favoured way through the gate. With a number of place changes as the race progressed, the finishing order showed more of a mix than in previous races. Always in the top three, S95 (Osprey) crossed the finish line 40 seconds ahead of S82 (Marengo) helmed by Carolyn Brigg with S3 (Skua) holding onto third place.

With the overall points very tight at the top end of the fleet, there was all to play for in the fifth and final race. Although the visibility improved slightly just before the start, the drizzle returned shortly afterwards.

S3 (Skua) soon established a comfortable lead ahead of S93 (Gwahir) and S67 (Solitude) helmed by Anthony Lunch. However, realising that they needed to be two places ahead of Gwahir if they were to win the Championships, the final beat back from the leeward gate to the finishing line almost became a match race with Skua managing to not only come in first but also holding Gwahir up enough to allow Solitude to finish second with a mere 5 seconds separating the three of them. This put Skua and Gwahir on level points and level places (two firsts, one second and one third), but with a first in the final race, overall victory went to Harry, Prue & Charlie Roome in Skua.

An excellent weekend's racing and Bembridge SC looks forward to welcoming the Swallows again for their Nationals in three year's time.

Additional Photos: flic.kr/s/aHsmERPMco

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

PosSail NoNameHelmCrewR1R2R3R4R5Pts
1S3SkuaHarry RoomePrue Roome, Charlie Roome12‑3317
2S93GwaihirMark StruckettKeith Bliss, Mike Wigmore211‑537
3S95OspreyJames HartleyRob Sutherland, Jeremy Sibthorp3‑921410
4S82MarengoCarolyn BriggPhilip Pascal, Christine Graves6462‑718
5S86MigrantChris FoxJames Leaver, Ginny Fox535‑7518
6S67SolitudeAnthony LunchJohn Houghton, Andrew Reid467‑10219
7S94MerlinJulian KinrossMimie Currey, Charles Prescott8‑10441026
8S70CurlewSimon SlaterJames Baron, Timothy BoswijkOCS596626
9S88DarterTony GloverPeter Baron77‑109831
10S80Blue TitPaul GilesTom Clarence‑Smith‑9888933
11S76HarlequinMark WalkerJames Govan, Peter Mcgleughlin10‑1111111143

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