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Vane Marblehead National Championships at Fleetwood Model Yacht Club

by Tony Wilson 7 Nov 13:15 GMT 26-27 October 2019

The last weekend of October has been used for the Classic Marblehead Nationals Vane weekend at Fleetwood. As Marblehead's have evolved over the many years, the two groups sail together to make up a greater number although the Classic are also separated by a slight variation of keel fitting which the Modern Classic doesn't have this fairing of a two inch rounding garboard.

Nine competitors attended and also a couple of beauties were with us again from the vintage class that have sailed many years ago, 'Tempest' owned by Alan Bell and 'Ballerina' brought along by Alan Oxlade who was also going to be the starter at the top end of the lake. At the bottom end John Plant was the other starter also with a whistle and to control the whole outfit we had John Taylor as Race Officer.

A light wind from the East accompanied by rain for the morning clearing by lunchtime and then the breeze was to pick up slightly and swing to the West. There seemed no great urgency to get going and a slight delay as folks were wondering if there was even any wind at all. The first race seemed to take forever, then a short coffee break was called. A second race and then it was already lunch, still waiting for the wind as speed was very slow. Most boats favoured the far bank, although maybe a little too soon.

The afternoon continued in like manner with a slow turn around of the wind although it came all of a sudden at about 14:30 which was later than expected and more of it, up to about 15MPH so a few quickly reached for a smaller suit of sails. Peter Whiteside had been doing really well with just one need for a re-sail, when he looked as though he was just going to give a couple of points away. It was on the far bank on the home leg before the pump house where he had been leapfrogging with 'Black Prince' sailed by David Mathers. David hadn't been doing too well, but you would have put money on this last couple of metres that he would have it in the bag. Snatched at the post by Peter when he got a gust. Sometimes it's just not your day.

The boats were now really moving but we were sadly out of time for Saturday as the last race had to be started before 4pm.

An early start for Sunday with a 09:15 briefing. But no fear as some may have forgotten that we had that extra hour with the clocks going back. Wind forecast was around 15 - 20 MPH from the West, which was looking good.

Some of the big guns had dropped a sail size as now the boats were motoring along nicely. It wasn't long before what had taken nearly all day Saturday to do, was more or less managed in just the morning. Four rounds sailed which completed the round and it was lunch.

Ballerina had been struggling the whole weekend with trim issues and its crew thought the spinnaker was worth a try for a first for these newbies. With amazement it worked with success on this race against Damian and probably only because he still had the small sail on and the wind had dropped a touch.

The races were looking good and folks were happy as the wind was now more predictable. Our two vintage boats had a very even close fought battle. More or less neck and neck all the way up the lake they looked a great sight. Over 100 years between the two and still sailing. Alan had sailed this same boat 'Tempest' right through and even in the sixties. 'Tempest' had set off on the beat with choice and had taken weather side and it was by this close margin that he had pinched the win over 'Ballerina'.

Damian and Wizzie also had a very close battle to the top, with Damian snatching the win at the post. The return saw Damian really power away on the run as she was one hard to catch. Who would have thought that you could let a boat go from one end of the lake, sail all the way down without touching the side once and these guys can do it many times.

The young lads had been making their fathers proud and it was great to see youngsters in this day and age doing something different than video gaming or whatever is the norm is for the young ones.

The prompt finish was as announced and ready for prize giving at 4pm. Another great weekend with just the slight damp start on Saturday and a lot had been learnt. That was probably the last big event for the year and we have just one 36R Vane day left before 2020 begins. Thanks to all that organised and to our extra helping hands that manned the far bank.


1. Shaun Wyeth
2. Peter Whiteside
3. Damian Akroyd

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