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2019 K1 National Championships at Draycote Water Sailing Club

by Geoff King, Paul Smalley & Andrew Snell 27 Sep 2019 13:35 BST 20-22 September 2019
K1 National Championships at Draycote © Veronica King

The 2019 K1 National Championships were hosted by Draycote Water Sailing Club from 20th to 22nd September. A turnout of 21 was good with sailing skill and ability in abundance.

The Championships were characterised by high quality racing throughout the fleet with positions rapidly changing. This was enriched by the race officers setting excellent courses throughout. For the first two days there was a warm fresh southerly breeze that was very gusty and shifty. The wind shifts were difficult to predict which made the beats close and tactical. Lengthy, back to back 1hr long races, involving three laps around the full expanse of Draycote Water made for a good stamina testing and a real physical challenge. Day 3 saw lighter winds and was the day where the top three placings were continually swapping around.

In Race 1 Simon Hawkes set down a daunting marker in the strong breeze showing seemingly untouchable boatspeed upwind. Paul Smalley and Andrew Snell could only watch as Hawkes extended his lead to almost half a leg with Snell sneaking second place on the line. Rumours of weed begin to surface from further down the fleet!

Race 2 saw no change to the previous race pace from Hawkes initially, but With Snell battling Tom White and the younger Ben Hawkes, Smalley is free to pursue what appears to be a futile chase. At this point Simon Hawkes sails into a forest and in his attempts to drag a small ecosystem across the line Smalley sneaks past for a win. Hawkes holds second with Snell a rapidly closing third.

Day 2 and a few changes to boat setup overnight meant that Smalley reduced Hawkes boatspeed advantage somewhat. The front runners were now hitting weed with predictable regularity and winning became a question of who could clear their foils most efficiently. Smalley and Hawkes had the best of the day after Snell took the first race despite a significant shortage of ballast. He was followed by Dave Stubbs sailing his best race of the series.

Paul Birbeck finally got his boat going in the right direction and largely weed-free for the final two races deploying his impressive ballast to good effect and posting two solid third places behind Hawkes and Smalley. Going into the last day Smalley remained 1 point behind Hawkes and Snell was a further three points back, effectively needing to win all remaining races to take the title.

Day 3 brought lighter winds, and crucially a smaller course which meant that none of the front runners encountered much weed, although there was still some about to frustrate the unlucky!

Snell dominated the first race in a similar manner to Hawkes on day one. Smalley and Hawkes battled it out with Smalley emerging on top and Hawkes hanging on to third. Tom White also revelling in the lighter conditions was close behind.

Race 2 was an extremely close affair between Smalley, White and Snell. In a dying breeze Smalley eventually took the lead at the final windward mark, only to immediately loose it to Snell who ghosted over the top to a shortened course finish. Hawkes was best of the rest in fourth.

At this point it was looking like Snell was on track for the three victories he required. However, the breeze was refusing to co-operate. An early abandonment by the race officer proved justified as the prize-giving unfolded with some very stationary boats on the lake in the background.

First, second and third were separated by a single point in a Nationals where an ability to sail rapidly backwards counted almost as much as sailing rapidly forwards.

Overall Results: (top ten)

1st Paul Smalley (RNSA)
2nd Andrew Snell (ASA)
3rd Simon Hawkes (Wimbleball)
4th Tom White (Olton Mere)
5th Paul Birbeck (Wimbleball)
6th Ben Hawkes (Wimbleball)
7th Dave Stubbs (Lyme Regis)
8th Ian Duke (Datchet water)
9th Guy Woodhouse (Lyme Regis)
10th Chris Dyer (Wimbleball)

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