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Dart 18 GP1 at Dee Sailing Club

by Jon Hayley 11 Jun 15:03 BST 29-31 May 2021

At last! We are able to host events again (almost, but not quite...) normally. The last bank holiday weekend of May saw Dee Sailing Club hosting their regular slot as the hosts for the first Dart 18 Grand Prix Open Meeting of the 2021 season.

This year 24 boats turned out and included 13 boats from Dee SC. With a forecast of glorious sunshine extra barrels of guest beer had been ordered in advance just in case people were a "bit" thirsty after an afternoon on the water...

Day 1 saw less sun cream application than predicted and murmurs of postponements due to the very light (zero) breeze but our Zumba dancing Race Officer worked his usual magic and after a (alleged) wind dance on the roof of the committee boat managed to summon up a light but steady 8 knots that held throughout both races. With a strong tide taking the fleet away from the start line those who attacked the start line reaped the rewards. Rob Garcka and Fi Goegebeur from Worthing SC quickly established and held a strong lead to take first with Dee SC's Glen and Rosie Hughes taking 2nd and James and Alison Douglas 3rd place.

After a delayed start and not very big tides the RO and his team did well to get a second race in. Rob and Fi took and held another quick lead, David Lloyd and Jojo from Stokes Bay in the yellow peril came second with Will Thompson and Mark Stones holding off multiple downwind attacks to take third. Throughout the rest of the fleet there was plenty of extremely close racing and multiple place changes on both upwind and downwind legs keeping everyone in the game and hungry for day 2. In the meantime though food was served, cold beers were poured and the competitors lounged on the grassy lawn for an afternoon of Apres-Sail banter and socially distanced sunbathing as the sun came out.

On Sunday morning everyone woke up to truly Mediterranean conditions with clear blue skies and a nice warm breeze and the crews had a few opportunities to stretch their legs for the first time getting out on the wire. After some serious sun cream application we were off for Race 3. Conditions varied across the race course and James and Alison Douglas set out their intentions for the day by securing a solid first place. Des and Fionnuala Barnes of Royal Yorkshire YC coming in second and Rob and Fi 3rd.

Race 4 saw similar conditions with pockets of wind appearing at seemingly random places around the race course and resulting in lots of position changes throughout the race. Obviously not so random for James and Alison of Dee SC who banged in another first place, Rob and Fi were not giving up without a fight and took second with Barry Peters of Worthing SC, one of three single handers, coming third.

In Race 5 the wind shifts and gusts were even more exaggerated and it seemed that whichever tack I was on it was always sailing away from the windward mark! Clearly the crews were source of the problem with 2 single handers Barry Peters of Worthing SC and Jon Worthington of Dee SC taking first and second with James and Alison Douglas managing hold third place.

Sunday's much needed and delicious meal (pie and mash... yummmmm) was sponsored very kindly by Deva Sail Racing. With the clear blue skies and warm breeze with more cold beers and banter on the sun-drenched lawn, lapping up the beautiful estuary views against the backdrop of guest guitarist John Wynne's melodies, Sunday's Apres-Sail was set to be a relaxed and calm evening... erm... Dee SC doesn't really do quiet evenings though and socially distanced table dancing ensued proving once again that there's no party like a Dee SC party... too much sun eh Simon?

If there were any cobwebs to be blown away then the 20-26 knots blowing on Monday morning were certainly going to deliver. Equally exciting was the situation at the top of the leaderboard with James and Alison Douglas only 1 point behind Rob and Fi in first place. It was all to play for. By the starting sequence the wind had eased to a more manageable 14 knots so another good day for crew leg stretching before the journey home. Some hard fought and close endings in the greatest conditions yet made a solid ending to the event. No Crashes, no General Recalls or Protests made our Zumba dancing RO very happy and his team put on 2 great races.

Very variable conditions again across the course on both upwind and downwind legs with inshore turning out to deliver huge dividends for those who chose that option upwind. Race 6 saw a return to the old Douglas 1st 2nd combination with James and Alison taking first and Cameron Douglas and Molly, returning after a torn sail on day 2, to take 2nd. Rob and Fi came 3rd which meant there was still only one point in it at the top with James and Alison having moved into first place.

In the final Race 8 it was all very close and the inshore upwind leg still paid dividends. With James/Alison and Rob/Fi battling it out between themselves Cameron Douglas and Molly snuck in to take first place. In second place came James and who had managed to hold off Rob and Fi who came third. For the less experience group of sailors it was also nice to see that no-one is too old or experienced to capsize at the windward mark although David (yes Lloyd) did claim that Jojo was looking a bit warm and needed a swim to cool off...

Congratulations to James and Alison Douglas who won the event overall, Rob Garcka and Fi Goegebeur who took Second Place and Barry Peters who took 3rd. A huge thank you again to our main prize sponsor, Indigo Art, for the beautiful prizes that were awarded to each of the top 3 helms and crews. Once again a big emphasis was also placed on the "take no plastic on the water" theme and many thanks to Deva Sail Racing who provided the aluminium water bottles for the 4th, 5th and 6th place helms and crews.

Also a big well done to the UKIDA handicap winners; First Billy Christie and Tom Stafford of Dee SC, Second Glen and Rosie Hughes also of Dee SC and Third Darren and Tracey-Ann Wood of Island Yacht Club and thank you to our other sponsor, UKIDA, for providing the lovely prizes for the respective helms and crews.

Thank you again for all the Travellers for helping to make this a fabulous event - both on and off the water. Our gratitude also lies with the galley crew and bartenders, who kept us well fed and watered throughout, and all who helped run the weekend so smoothly. Here's to doing it all again in 2022!

Roll on GP 2 at North Devon Yacht Club on 19th of June! Entry available at

See all on the water photos at

Full results can be found here.

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