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RC One Metre nationals at West Kirby Sailing Club

by Peter Spence 21 Sep 2006 11:14 BST 26 - 28 August 2006
International One Metre UK national championship © Damian Ackroyd

This excellent event held over the three days of 26/28 August was a triumph for the organisers, Birkenhead Model Yacht and Power Club. The event was run at the Marine Lake at West Kirby in conjunction with West Kirby Sailing Club.

The lake was shared with full size dinghies and sailboards, but successfully managed to enable a Firefly open meeting to run alongside the radio sailing event. Launching was from pontoons using the elevated promenade as the control area, giving excellent vision of the sailing.

The 47 UK entrants were joined by 10 representatives from Croatia, Italy, Spain, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, giving the event an international quality. Before the event we were promised that this exposed site at the top of the Wirral could guarantee a good breeze and the weather delivered in style.

PRO Chris Elliott and assistant Martin Roberts set courses close into the promenade which, although using the choppy leeward end of the lake, kept racing within visibility for the skippers. Most start lines were sensibly set to encourage leeward end starters although the further out you sailed, the bigger the waves!

Day one had four heats, and for most competitors the seeding round was the only one sailed in 'A' rig, and by the A fleet in race two, all were down to 'B' rig through to the 6pm finish. Dave Potter sailing his Lintel, designed and built in conjunction with local builder Dave Creed, set off in style with three bullets. His house overlooks the lake and one suspects he may have practised from the balcony just a bit! Also going well after day one were Graham Bantock (Topico), Croatian Zvonko Jelacic (Topico) and Trevor Binks (Isis).

The fleet assembled for a 9.30 am start on day two greeted by an even stronger NW breeze. Rig trim was crucial to keep the one metre yachts driving into the waves and as the wind increased it became important to choose the right moment to tack. By mid morning most had elected to change to 'C' rig and mechanical and electrical failures were becoming a factor.

The race officers kept the event flowing with breaks for the Fireflys to launch and demonstrate the art of capsizing. At the end of day two Dave Potter was in a strong position, although he did post what were to become his discards at the end of Sunday. Behind him it was close between Bantock and Jelacic with Binks demonstrating terrific speed and Brad Gibson¹s consistency (in an own-design Disco) bringing them both up the list. Franco Borin (Extreme) also finished the day strongly with a third and first. Peter Stollery (Isotonic) was conspicuous in his absence after a good start on Saturday having gone to London for a wedding and slipped down the ranking heat board! The day finished with a complicated set of A fleet protests conveniently resolved overnight.

Day three dawned and proved windiest of all. It was 'C' rig from the off and the Firefly event was cancelled. The wind was blowing more parallel to the prom and provided exhilarating but difficult racing on a large wave pattern. As retirements increased the fleets were re-scheduled from four heats to three. Dave Potter held together well all as per the grand plan and posted low numbers including two bullets to win by a comfortable margin. It was all as if he had rehearsed the script and his boat suited the prevailing conditions perfectly. Basically the scheme was to blast out from the leeward end of the start line, turn right and hit the windward mark in the first few -­ it's simple.

Potter's sister-ship, sailed by John Tushingham, got into gear and pulled through to fifth overall. Positions from second to fourth were very close with Jelacic just taking a consistent second from Bantock whose honesty in a last race protest against Ken Binks dropped him to just one point behind in third. Peter Stollery finished 10th despite his day out to London and one wonders what might have been.

Overall this was an excellent, well run event, enjoyed by both competitors and onlookers, including impressed West Kirby sailors. At the prize giving multi-world champion Graham Bantock summed up West Kirkby as, "the best UK venue for sailing in 25 years of radio yachting." The organisers and the team including the rescue team of Trevor Bamforth and on the last day Nick Martin, worked tirelessly and combined to produce an outstanding event. This event was tough on boats and gear and it is a tribute to the robust nature of the One Metre that continuous racing was possible. It is hoped that we will be able to return to this excellent venue in the not too distant future.

Overall Results:
1st David Potter (Lintel) Birkenhead 28pts
2nd Zvonko Jelacic (Topiko) Croatia 63pts
3rd Graham Bantock (Topiko) Chelmsford 64pts
4th Ken Binks (Isis) Eastbourne 69pts
5th John Tushingham (Lintel) Keighly 90pts
6th Trevor Binks (Isis) Eastbourne 100pts
7th Brad Gibson (Disco) Australia 105pts
8th Graham Elliott (Widget) Birkenhead 133pts
9th Franco Borin (Extreme) Italy 146pts
10th Peter Stollery (Isotonic) Guildford 157pts.

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