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The Allspars Final Fling 2019 at Plymouth

by Ben Hawkes 20 Oct 2019 06:32 BST 12-13 October 2019
Allspars Final Fling 2019 at Plymouth © Lucy Littlejohn

Over the 12th - 13th October the third running of the Allspars Final Fling held at The Royal Western Yacht Club at Plymouth. This is growing to become an iconic event not to be missed.

It's very difficult to put your finger on why this is such a good event, but has a combination of a really keen and active sponsor in Allspars, Keith Davies and his wife Nicola organising everything so enthusiastically, all the helpers and supporters and a very welcoming and willing club. The great fun and competition had by all the competitors, which numbered 45 boats this year even after a fairly foreboding forecast for the weekend. The start line promised to be interesting with a single start that comprised from the top; three 18ft Skiffs, F18 cats, International Canoes right down to a very well sailed RS Feva sailed by young Fin Gribbin (13) and his mum who were one of the 14 boats who managed to complete every race.

The race officer Mike Johnson, who was kindly provided with a yacht as a committee boat by Charlie and Babs Thompson, either had extreme confidence in his insurance cover or his own ability to command this highly unusual fleet. Thankfully only the latter was tested and Mike shone through as being highly competent along with his team.

Six races were scheduled and there was a huge contrast in weather between the two days.

Saturday saw the first start at 13:00 hrs with about 6 to 8 knots across the course. The courses were windward-leewards for the first two followed by the around the breakwater race to finish the Saturday with.

With the incoming tide holding the boats back and pin end bias, many found it very difficult to judge but all starts of the weekend got away cleanly. Credit must go to the crews of the 18ft Skiffs as they threaded their way around all the slower boats with great skill and understanding which was also returned by all the other crews who didn't fancy being skewered by an 11ft carbon bowsprit. Competitors commented on the fun of being able to race against these wonderful machines and the weekend showed that it could be done safely and in good humour as they enjoyed the course with everyone else even though they measure just under 30ft long!

Many of the fastest boats suffered through not having quite enough wind in both of the first two races, performing to their maximum as shown by the huge variety of boats in the top ten.

The stand out boat of the day was the Classic National 18 of Colin and Olly Murray who had taken the trouble to travel all the way from up north, taking three bullets.

Getting the starts right proved crucial to success as if you got it wrong you could find the equivalent of a block of flats going over the top of you and blanketing you, so many people chose their windward routes on the basis of clear air above anything else.

This led to the final race of the day, beating upwind to the westward end of the breakwater, turning to port and coming back in the Eastern entrance to the Club finishing line. This finally gave the faster boats the chance to stretch their legs with the 18ft Skiffs disappearing into the distance and getting better results. Two International Canoes had a good battle just behind with Gareth Caldwell just getting ahead of Chris Hampe at the line. The trail of finishers then mirrored their handicaps on the long run back. Another performance of note was the Laser Radial of Alice Woodings-Hyde who put in a string of steady results far beyond what would have been expected from a Radial in those conditions to set herself up in a good position for the following day.

With great foresight the organisers had beers and lagers at fiendishly low rates along with a premonition concoction called Dark and Stormies made with dark rum and ginger beer. With true dedication Keith Davies the organiser, then tested most concoctions available, to his regret the next day as he and others who shall remain nameless told tall stories and yarns until closing time when his wife steered him unsteadily to the car. Dark and Stormy turned out to be the forecast for the following day, which as the fleet set off in very little wind soon made its presence felt on the racecourse.

On Sunday the fleet headed towards the left of the Sound in a force 2/3 breeze for two more windward leewards and then an around the harbour ride back to the Club line.

All was well until about ten minutes before the start when the wind began to increase to include substantial gusts with confused short waves. The countdown started and the line was fairly heavily biased to the pin. The Osprey "Shippy Mc Ship Face" of Ben and Simon Hawkes won the pin and stormed off on starboard getting ahead of the majority of the fleet. This was fine until they realised this was not a normal fleet and although clear of most things when tacking for the lay line they realised the blue 18ft Skiff was coming their way. A genuinely new experience awaited them trying to guess if they dared cross on port with three justifiably gesticulating men on the wire.

Thankfully they realised the Osprey was clear but the rest of the fleet was not, as many sensible boats tacked back to starboard out of a sense of self preservation and respect for the guys trying to find a safe way up the beat.

The "breeze was now on" as some would say and the committee boat was registering 28 knots at its best and 30 knots at Rame Head. The Osprey got to the top mark first and went all out as did others setting the spinnaker. A fairly wild ride ensued downwind with the wind at its height christening the gybe point for the rescue crews at asymmetric corner, where at least six stopped for a brief swim. The Sprint 15 of Tom Gurney headed downwind with him perched on the back to prevent the pitch pole, something Tom needs to perfect as he neatly fell off the back whilst his boat gybed its way without any input required. He made it successfully to the leeward mark where he was elegantly thrown back on to his speeding vessel by the rescue crew.

It is worth noting at this point the Moth had covered nearly two laps and took three deserved first places for the day. Sadly others found it too much and succumbed, many making the decision to call it a day as the forecast did not suggest it would ease.

A rarely seen event, but filmed for evidence, took place on this very run, the Bosun of Roger Irving was caught briefly planing. This raised the very real possibility it was now far too windy for mortals to continue racing or in fact a mirage had occurred. Replaying the recording does in fact show a sustained period of frothing around the boat which does support the theory although some suggested it may be unsporting and possibly outside the class rules? Not surprisingly this helped the Bosun to an overall position of 5th place which joking aside is no mean feat.

The two Phantoms were going well all weekend but one incident of note took place. At the windward mark the second Phantom was a boat lent kindly by its owner to Adam Littlejohn, a well known and liked Club member who's nickname for good reason is 'Pasty King'. This came about when invited on stage by the Kernow King (comedian) who staged a competition of pasty eating on stage. Not only did he win with ease eating multiple pasties but was able to name the manufacturer and variety at the same time. Many will recognise this as the perfect future helm of a class where on windy days the phrase "Launch the Paunch" is part of the training manual. Hoping to gain acceptance in his new class in over 20 knots of breeze at the windward mark as bearing away he actually caught a pasty thrown in his direction by the organiser and promptly snapped his tiller extension as an excuse to sit there and eat it (which he did).

The next race started minus quite a few boats in a fresh and now gusty breeze which had gone more to the west. Things steadied towards the end, allowing the race committee to let race three go ahead in a surprisingly much lighter breeze. 19 boats were left including the tenacious Fin in his RS Feva for a trip around the sound. The drop in breeze and different course allowed other boats to the front with Martin Watts in his Phantom posting a second and the Laser Radial managing a 6th.

The only boat that might have toppled the National 18 was the Osprey but they remained three points adrift at the close of racing. Martin Watts in the Phantom was third with the well sailed Laser Radial of Alice Woodings-Hyde in fourth. The Bosun came in with a small tidal wave in a thoroughly deserved 5th.

The Murrays were presented with the first prize and made thanks to all who had made the event such a success. Spot prizes were presented throughout the event for those that merited, which definitely included the keen and dedicated youngsters who sailed so well.

Thanks have to go to:

  • Allspars for their kind Sponsorship
  • Royal Western Yacht Club
  • Horizons Plymouth Children's Sailing Charity - 2 RIB and 5 crews
  • Plymouth University Yacht Club - safety boat crews
  • RWYC members
  • Sam Hannaford who ran the safety boat team
  • Keith and Nicola Davies for all their hard work in organising the event
  • Queen Anne Battery Marina
  • Lucy Littlejohn for the Photography

Overall Results:

PosSail NoBoat TypeBoat NameHelmR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1314National 18WoodstockColin Murray121‑73411
2135OSPREYShippy McShipfaceBen&Simon Hawkes24‑632314
31419PHANTOMEdgewaveMartin Watts713‑1465233
4211457LASER RADIALLaser RadialAlice Woodings‑Hyde17‑251224641
52424BosunBosunRoger Irvine‑35910871347
64501MOTH FOILINGMothDan Ellis(DNC)391111153
7914RS 400RS400James Torr1172013‑211162
83639MERLIN‑ROCKETCarbonatorDan Heaton2123‑2896867
9983RS 400EricaPeter Middleton161415‑17121471
102661RS 2000RS 2000Adam James24‑3723119572
1121Hadron H1Hadron H1Julian Hines‑22111320141674
12445RS 400RS400Trevor Griffiths1420‑262113775
13430RS 200RivaMichael Calvert2024‑32.512101076
141471RS 400Oki DokiJohn McLaren1212161922(DNC)81
151205PHANTOMPhantomJon Rickard1981715RET(DNC)84
165847RS FEVA XLPeggy LeeFin Gribbin2529‑32.51011984
1722821ENTERPRISEBella Tolachristopher Spencer(DNC)3039481293
18983XRS 400RS400Dani MIddleton1018242319(DNC)94
1911818ft SkiffRutlandTom Hill622714(DNC)DNC95
20506RS 400RS400Alex Zamarda‑271927221517100
213757MERLIN‑ROCKETTo the Moon and BackAndy Postle333(DNC)DNCDNC101
22335International CanoeSwap for LifeGareth Caldwell852(DNC)DNCDNC107
23764B14B14Tony Blackmors1821185(DNC)DNC108
24340CANOE INTERNATIONALMonkeys UncleChris Hampe4178RET(DNC)DNC109
25186MUSTO SKIFFMusto SkiffAndrew Strickland1528312516(DNC)115
2612218ft SkiffThe Green SkiffTom Kiddle1365(DNC)DNCDNC116
271152RS 400The ArkMike Jacot91625RET(DNC)DNC130
283217BYTE CIIMidgeIzzy Cramp3042(DNC)261718133
29758RS 200RS200Sam Clarke2835342420(DNC)141
301008BUZZQueen BeeJonathan Unsworth‑White231029RET(DNC)DNC142
312032SCORPIONShady LadySteven Mitchell52719(DNC)DNCDNC143
324346WAYFARERWayfarerKevin Bentley26342116(DNC)DNC143
339118tf Skiff18ft SkiffScott Bonner40154(DNC)DNCDNC151
3420837LASERLaserAndy Weir33143RET(DNC)DNC157
35461MUSTO SKIFFIndulgenceTim Rogers31269(DNC)DNCDNC158
36XLASER RADIALLaser RadialDylan Weir37403827RET(DNC)167
37659F18f18Brendan & Jamie38323518(DNC)DNC169
3849540420Gee WizzBenjamin Lintell(DNC)DNCDNCDNC1815171
3968949ERBonnieMax Griggs(DNC)3622OCSDNCDNC184
40699FORMULA 18F18Rachael Ince343130(DNC)DNCDNC187
4153249ER49erAndrew Whatshott323837RET(DNC)DNC187
421643Sprint 15 Cat BoatSprint 15Tom Gurney294336(DNC)DNCDNC200
43437RS 400RS400Alex Janzen363340(DNC)DNCDNC201
44809RS 800RS800Dan Flanaghan394142(DNC)DNCDNC214
45698F18F18Benjamin Dixon(DNC)4441DNCDNCDNC223

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