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Tactics To Win by Nick Craig
Tactics To Win by Nick Craig

Volvo Noble Marine RS400 UK & Irish Nationals at Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club - Days 1 & 2

by Matthew Sheahan 27 Aug 10:51 BST 25-29 August 2019
Volvo Noble Marine RS400 UK & Irish Nationals © Bradley Quinn

Two days into the RS400 UK & Irish National Championships at Royal North of Ireland in Belfast, light winds were shuffling the points race by race leaving some of the big guns struggling to break free to the top of the table. All, that is, apart from one pair who seemed to have found order in the tricky conditions.

Day 1

Only the plane spotters in the fleet would have noticed when Belfast airport switched runways, but the move was significant. Coupled with the collapse of the cumulus clouds around Belfast city and the surrounding land to the south, the indications were that the thermal breeze that had been providing a steady ENE breeze in the loch had switched off and the SE gradient breeze that had been forecast had now taken over - even though it wasn't yet on the water's surface.

The switch caused chaos throughout most of the fleet particularly for those that had bet their positions on heading out to sea once again for the third and final beat. This time they found themselves on the wrong side off the new breeze. The result was that the fleet turned inside out for all but the front runners.

Among those to slip through unscathed was Nick Craig and Toby Lewis, fresh back into the class. Indeed, so fresh that at 7am on the day of the first race they rocked up, hot foot from the Merlin nationals in Looe with a brand new 400 that had yet to be unwrapped and proceeded to build it between breakfast and midday.

"We had to assemble everything and only used the hammer once," said Nick. "The fact that we were so late broke all the rules of championship preparation but it was that or go back to work."

By the time they launched their boat was been covered in tuning notes and strands of tape to mark the various rig settings - never has the multiple former national champions been quite so public about their settings.

On the race course, despite a poor start, Craig and Lewis (1500) forged their way to the front to take the first win of the event. Peter Kennedy and Stephane Kane (1339) from the host club were second and Stephen and Sarah Cockerill (1489) from Stokes Bay in 3rd.

For the second race and with the light 5-7 knot breeze coming offshore from the south and the tide sweeping to the east, all the visitors were back to square one when it came to decoding the conditions. But after three laps it was clear that two teams had figured things out as the Cockerills (1489) took a win with Craig/Lewis (1500) taking third to leave the pair one equal points in pole position at the end of the day.

Proving that local knowledge was handy, Paul McLaughlin and Owen McKinley (1406) from Cushendall SC finished second in the second race.

Behind them some of the favorites in the field were already carrying some big scores, shuffling the pecking order in a way we haven't seen for some time.

"At this rate I think there's going to be quite a battle in the bronze fleet this week," joked Kevin Podger (1439).

Day 2

A slight increase in wind strength to 7-8 knots and a more stable wind direction from the West suggested that racing would be more straightforward on Day 2 - it wasn't.

A new direction and an earlier start meant that anything anyone had learned about the tide was now irrelevant. In addition the tight competition in the fleet meant that after each start the pack arrived at each of the marks en-masse making it hard to break free at any point.

Approaching the first windward mark in good shape in the leading pack was no guarantee for future success, especially if you arrived on port tack.

Discovering a wall of boats on starboard that were battling to lay the mark against the ebbing tide provided nowhere to go left plenty to end up gybing before the mark in an attempt to find a gap in the wall of sail.

But once again it was Craig and Lewis (1500) that took the upper hand winning race the first race and taking second in the second.

By now, the former multiple national champions extended their overall lead there were others who were making their presence felt too as they delivered top five positions. Among them; Mark Oakey (also a former RS400 National Champion) and Ben Robertson (1463), Robert Espey and Richard McCullough (1006) from Ballyhome YC and Mike Simms and Jack Holden (1488) from Carsington SC and Arun SC.

Results after Day 2:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubC'shipDivisionR1R2R3R4Pts
1st1500Nick CraigTobytastic LewisFrensham/BurghfieldOpenStandard1‑3124
2nd1489Stephen CockerillSarah CockerillStokes Bay SCOpenMaster31‑10711
3rd1463Mark OakeyBen RobertsonItchenor SCOpenStandard6‑244515
4th1006Robert EspeyRichard McCulloughBallyholme YCIRLStandard5‑1621320
5th1488Mike SimsJack HoldenCarsington SC/Arun YCOpenStandard‑22135422
6th1407Hamish GledhillAndy DawsonWest Riding SCOpenStandard‑17631423
7th1460Dave ExleyMark LunnLeigh & Lowton SCOpenMaster84‑121123
8th1436Chris PenneyJessica RutherfordCarrickfergus SC/Holywood YCIRLStandard710‑25623
9th1377Sean ClearyAnnalise NixonOxford SCOpenStandard‑14791026
10th1481Howard FarbrotherLouise HoskenQMSCOpenMaster‑48820129
11th1264Barry McCartinAndrew PenneyRoyal St George YC/CSBCIRLStandard1696(RET)31
12th874Jon GayAmanda HendersonLochaber SCOpenStandard‑44158831
13th1406Paul McLaughlinOwen Mc KinleyCushendall SCIRLStandard‑262151532
14th1189Steve RestallChris StubbsDowns SCOpenMaster‑40227332
15th1376Oliver LoughheadTiffany BrienRoyal North of Ireland YCIRLStandard‑235132341
16th1339Peter KennedyStephen KaneRoyal North of Ireland YCIRLMaster2‑39182242
17th1004David JessopJohn McKelvieQMSC/SLYC/SchnellwurstOpenStandard1214‑341945
18th1405Liam DonnellyRick Mc CaigRoyal North of Ireland YCIRLGrand Master15‑18141746
19th1452Govan BerridgeDavid ColemanKillaloe SCIRLStandard42128‑3953
20th875Jacob AinsworthKayleigh RobertsSouth Shields SCOpenStandard2112‑312053
21st1188Stephen McLernonRyan WilsonCushendall/Carrickfergus SCIRLStandard‑3311172856
22nd1363Ross RyanOliver Ryan‑MooreNotts County SCOpenMaster2020‑271858
23rd815Trevor D'ArcyAlan McClernonCarrickfergus SCIRLStandard1330‑502164
24th877Ryan GlynnKatie KaneBallyholme YCIRLStandard24‑42113166
25th1140Robert O'SullivanPhilip McGladeMBSCIRLStandard18‑46242466
26th1383Joe ScurrahPhil RobinsonCarsington SCOpenStandard103523‑4368
27th1467Paul RidgwayBronwyn RidgwayLeigh & Lowton SCOpenGrand Master‑413332974
28th1484Mark SomervilleJoe RobertsBassenthwaite SCOpenStandard‑3636221674
29th888Hammy BakerBarry SwansonQYC/SLYCIRLStandard293116‑3276
30th1439Kevin PodgerHeather ChipperfieldLymington Town SCOpenGrand Master3134‑351277
31st1438Ross VaughanAndrew VaughanRoyal North of Ireland YCIRLStandard282821‑3477
32nd1465Ben WilliamsonJon WillarsWelton SCOpenStandard‑2725262677
33rd1292Christopher EamesNiall EamesSLYCIRLStandard9‑38373379
34th1001Woo KearneyNick ThallonRoyal North of Ireland YCIRLStandard2517‑433779
35th741Mikey FergusonPhilip AdamsBallyholme YCIRLStandard3223‑362782
36th1353Robert HastingsRory HigginsRoyal North of Ireland YCIRLStandard38(DSQ)192986
37th1429Neil BevingtonAlan SkeensLee on Solent SCOpenMaster‑4527293086
38th1124Robert YeamansNadia YeamansAberdeen & StonehavenOpenStandard4719‑482591
39th1435Matt SheahanEllie SheahanNetley SCOpenMaster11‑45444297
40th1345John HobsonRebecca OgdenNotts County SCOpenMaster3726‑413699
41st1501Ken TwemlowGoizeder Aspe JuaristiNotts County SCOpenGrand Master194439‑45102
42nd1152Mike JacotRebecca AllenMount Batten Sailing CentreOpenStandard‑53403038108
43rd1029John CunninghamNicola CokayneCarsington SCOpenGrand Master3029(OCS)51110
44th1178Brian HolmesWendy SmythColeraine YCIRLStandard463233‑47111
45th1440Simon HutchinsonBen WilliamsRoyal North of Ireland YCIRLStandard42‑434235119
46th1432James AlsopSimon EdwardsQMSCOpenStandard503738‑52125
47th1379Neil StrainJohn FergusonRoyal North of Ireland YCIRLMaster35‑514648129
48th840Neil CalvinRoger PerrotCarrickfergus SCIRLStandard3447‑5149130
49th1430Simon MathewsPenny MathewsLancing SCOpenGrand Master39‑484744130
50th1319Vicki ThurstonJenny DouglasDalgety Bay SCOpenStandard‑54415241134
51st1359Mike UptonTrisha ClancyStarcross YCOpenStandard43‑534546134
52nd1487Andy BrayAngela CarterLee on Solent SCOpenMaster49‑504940138
53rd1445Phil BrittonMike AtkinsonDalgety Bay SCOpenMaster525240‑53144
54th824Jack DaviesPeter DaviesLee on Solent SCOpenStandard5149‑5350150

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