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50th Unicorn National Championship at Stone Sailing Club

by Daniel Jarman 15 Aug 2019 06:28 BST 5-9 August 2019
50th Unicorn Nationals at Stone © Ron Mehta

The 50th Unicorn National Championship was held this year in conjunction with Stone Sailing Club's 70th anniversary celebrations during the week 5th-9th August.

Forecasts for the week were predicting boisterous conditions throughout, and apart from a welcome respite on Thursday, the weather didn't disappoint.

Straight into a F5-6 on the Monday morning the Unicorn fleet launched into a blistering hack across the Blackwater Estuary. Dan Jarman made the most of the pin end line bias in both races 1 and 2 to take an early advantage and managed to hold off any challenges.

Tuesday produced the same conditions and the race committee continued to set a variety of course configurations in order to maintain all points of sailing, instead of the current trend of straight upwind-downwind sailing. This later proved to be spectacular during the reaching legs. The rear beam trapezing technique was key in driving the Unicorns hard in the 25 knot gusts. However, they were not to be without casualties. Front runner Steve Pooley caught an edge and pitch poled end over end, rather reminiscent of a recent Kiwi AC62 incident. Steve's modern, robust Unicorn popped up unscathed, unlike himself who surfaced with a broken thumb in two places and a subsequent trip to the local A and E.

Meanwhile, close battles were being fought between Gary Piper, Owen Cox and Dan Jarman for top 3 positions, with only one second separating Jarman and Cox by the end of race 3.

The Stone Week fun rolled on into the night with the excellent Mickey Welton band providing the live entertainment.

Wednesday was scheduled for an all-classes, long distance race which was excluded from the Nationals series. This gave the chance for some competitors to stay ashore for the day and lick their wounds. Strong breezes continued, but this didn't stop Owen Cox from making the most of the conditions to finish well in the mixed fleet.

Sun and a shifty F2-3 prevailed throughout Thursday with three races scheduled. Julius Mach and Gary Piper were quick to adapt to light weather mode and dominated the day. Steve Pooley, despite his injury, gave it the rigid thumbs-up whilst sporting his newly acquired hand brace and continued to sail well. Piper remained untouchable on the downwind legs and by the end of the afternoon had notched up three bullets on his score line. Mach also gained top three places to bring himself back into the mix. Other notable performances came from local sailor, 17 year old Ollie Boosey giving the Old Guard a run for their money, and Richard Beke progressing well to gain a creditable 3rd place in race 7.

The brilliant social schedule continued in the clubhouse with Leeds' spectacular 70's Glam Rock band, Glam 45, blowing the roof off to a frenzied crowd.

A prompt start on Friday for the final race 8 ensured an early finish before the impending gales were due to blast through by mid day. Any hangovers from the night before were soon alleviated by the building breeze. Julius Mach was first out of the blocks and arrived at the turning mark ahead of the fleet, but was soon overcome by Piper and Jarman on the next windward leg. Jarman held a 10 second lead over Piper for the duration of the course and even match racing at times to cover in the F5 breeze. Dan Jarman held on to a slender lead which finally secured him this year's title.

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

1. Dan Jarman, GBR 1088 (Locks SC) 7pts
2. Gary Piper, GBR 1094 (Stokes Bay SC) 10pts
3. Owen Cox, GBR 1072 (Bala SC) 20pts
4. Steve Pooley, GBR 1101 (Bala SC) 21pts
5. Richard Beke, GBR 1100 (Queensmead SC) 23pts
6. Julius Mach, GBR 1095 (Netley SC) 30pts
7. Ollie Boosey, GBR 1086 (Stone SC) 37pts
8. Will Stefanou, GBR 1098 (Stokes Bay SC) 46pts
9. David Taylor, GBR 1067 (Stone SC) 49pts

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