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2021 Devon Yawl National Championship at Yealm Yacht Club

by Tim Petitt 30 Jun 2021 12:33 BST 26-27 June 2021
Andy Williams and Angus Fellows win the 2021 Devon Yawl Nationals © Paul Gibbins Photography

The Yealm Yacht Club, in Newton Ferrers, Devon, hosted the 23nd Devon Yawl National Championships over the weekend of 26th & 27th June.

A total of 24 Devon Yawls entered, including the local Yealm YC fleet, plus visitors from Topsham SC, Salcombe YC, Hamble River SC, Bosham SC, Dawlish and Newport BC, Wales. The four strong Bosham SC. visiting fleet was particularly keen, having had to wait a year as they had previously planned to compete in the 2020 event that was cancelled.

The weekend was forecast to be medium Easterlies on the Saturday and a strong breeze on the Sunday from the North East, along with rain.

Saturday arrived with an Easterly breeze of 10 - 14 knots.

The format for the day was to be three races, of approximately 1 hour duration on traditional triangle with a beat and two reaches then a windward leeward, also known as a Triangle-Sausage Course.

The race officer, Chris Matthews set the first race on time at 1030hrs.

The race was led by off the line by DY128 followed by DY377, the upwind and downwind legs didn't particularly favour a side, more a task of picking shifts and pressure coming down the course.

Boats were heading left, right and up the middle with place changes through the fleet, and at the front close racing between DY377, DY128 and DY351. The one incident on the first lap that comes to mind was DY186 who caught the anchor line of the windward mark on its rudder and managed to drag it several metres down the reach before releasing it. This helping (or hindering) the following boats, depending on your point of view!

The finishing order was DY377 first, then DY351. However the sailing instructions stated that part of the course was to sail through the start/-finish line on each upwind leg, which caught out a few boats on the first race that failed to do so, including the race winner DY377, thus giving race one to DY351.

For race two everyone was in race mode, and keen to get a good start. Some boats were a bit too keen, which resulted in a general recall. The re-start was to be under the Black Flag, 1 minute rule.

After some confusion with the flags/sound signals race two got cleanly under way. DY54 led from the start, closely followed by DY383. Both boats pulling out a substantial lead over the rest of the fleet. The left hand side of the course was starting to be favoured, with boats heading out to the right losing out.

There was some excitement again at the windward mark as a 30ft sailing yacht seemed to be in some kind of trouble and was drifting towards the windward mark, with sails flapping. A motor launch and the race safety boats came to help and manoeuvred the yacht away. It was later seen safely under tow.

By now the two leading boats had separated out from the fleet, with DY383 slowing gaining on DY54. With DY54 leading to the finish, DY383 made good use of a slightly biased finish line and just pipped DY54 for the win.

Race three saw a clean start, and still no favoured route up the first beat. However the strengthening tidal current was having an effect at the windward mark, which made approaching on the starboard lay line tricky to judge as you were being swept onto the mark. More and more boats were now favouring the port approach, which made it even more difficult to judge on starboard as they tacked on the starboard lay line. Some boats having to do several tacks to clear the mark in the last few metres, with DY351 unfortunately being stranded on the mark as the fleet sailed past.

Having clear air at the front helped and DY186 managed to hold off a very close DY383 on the downwind legs, just breaking overlaps at the last moment when coming into the bottom mark. However it was almost a repeat of race two at the short beat to the finish with DY383 coming back strongly to the favoured end of the finish line. DY186 just clinched it.

With no one boat running away with the results, and three races to run on the Sunday, the event was still wide open. After the completion of the days racing all the boats headed back to their moorings in the River Yealm for the night. A hog roast was laid on at the Yealm Yacht Club, for the 90 competitors, rescue boat drivers, helpers and race committee, plus friends and family.

Sunday dawned, very grey, and windy as forecast. The plus factor being that as a Northerly, the race course was sheltered behind the Wembury cliffs, and the water was lovely and flat.

Several boats took the decision not to race in the gusty conditions, 18-20 knots, with gusts of 25+ knots.

Although it was grey and drizzly, the sailing conditions were manageable and a course set with the windward mark, just to the left side of the entrance of the River Yealm. This was to play a part in the choice of tactics as the ebb tide from the Yealm estuary built during the day.

Once the first race of the day, race 4, was under way, all thoughts of rain and the strong wind went away. Milling around before the start in windy conditions always seems more fraught, but once racing, the concentration takes over. There were some good shifts in the gusts and lulls that helped in climbing up the ladder through the fleet. The favoured, left side of the beat ensured the windward mark lay line was approached on port for the leading pack. DY377 led closely followed by DY383 and DY186. These positions held, with the three boats finishing in this order. Bosham SC boat, DY53 had a good race finishing fourth.

Once the 5th race was under way, the ebb tide was building and the left side of the beat was becoming more favourable. With a lift from the Northerly breeze over Wembury cliffs, and the windward mark being just at the edge of the tidal current. The gusts were strong enough to get the relatively heavy Devon Yawls planning, not easy in flat water, but the gaps between the leading boats started to spread out over the course. DY186 led, again followed by DY377 and DY383, finishing in that order.

Race six; With two of the three leading boats, DY377 and DY186 having to discard their disqualification from the first race, DY383 was looking strong.

Just as race six was starting the heavens opened and the forecast deluge of rain began. As the race started, the breeze started dropping and becoming patchier. DY186 led for the first three laps, however DY377 closed in on the last full windward leg, the boats rounding the top mark close together. As the wind became lighter on the downwind leg, DY377 rolled to windward of DY186, getting the inside overlap, and rounded the bottom mark ahead, then took the short beat to the finish for a win. Watching were DY383 coming up for a third place, who realised this was the move that could secure their overall win.

The maths then started on the way back to the moorings, and was still going at the Yealm Yacht Club bar, of who had how many points. Not keeping count of the races didn't help as I/we couldn't remember all the results, so it was up to the race committee to publish the final placings. In fact only 1 point separated the first three boats (so I think my confusion was justified).

Definitely the closest Devon Yawl nationals to date, well won by Andy Williams and Angus Fellows who sailed a very consistent regatta.

Second and third place DY377 & DY186 had exactly the same set of results, including the disqualification, so were only separated by the position on the last race.

Looking forward to 2022 at Brixham Y.C.

Overall Results:
If you finished in the top ten at the Devon Yawl nationals then enter your Gear Guide information here

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1DY383A WilliamsYYC‑41223311
2DY377R LarkeHRSC(NSC)3512112
3DY186T PetittYYC(NSC)5131212
4DY54D FellowsYYC323(RET)4618
5DY35E PeggYYC‑94455523
6DY351E Williams‑HawkesTSC197‑1010734
7DY70B FellowsYYC‑106979435
8DY128A WoodSYC2713(NSC)6836
9DY311E Aldaz‑CarrollBSC61069‑111041
10DY96J McNaughtonTSC8(NSC)1188944
11DY13R GrahamYYC(NSC)12126121153
12DY53W KingBSC1416‑17471354
13DY320J WhiteleyYYC1219‑2012131268
14DY100AA MatthewsYYC1188(DNC)DNCDNC77
15DY304J WilliamsonNBC51510(DNC)DNCDNC80
16DY141M Roberts 71316(RET)DNCDNC86
17DY121D MatthewsYYC15171911(RET)DNC87
18DY36D SheppardYYC181115(DNC)DNCDNC94
19DY339S BoardBSC131418(DNC)DNCDNC95
20DY30B NixonBSC191814(DNC)DNCDNC101
21DY65R JefferyYYC162022(DNC)DNCDNC108
22DY92D MacraeTSC172121(DNC)DNCDNC109
23DY367J White 202223(DNC)DNCDNC115
24DY106P HawkerYYC212324(DNC)DNCDNC118

2021 prize winners:

Race 1 – Builder’s Trophy – Ed Williams-Hawkes and Strangler
Race 2 – Topsham Plate – Andy Williams and Angus Fellows
Race 3 – Exe Enigma - Tim Petitt and Tony Callcut
Race 4 – Fulford Shield – Rob Larke and Dave Freemantle
Race 5 – Devon Yawl Plate – Tim Petitt and Tony Callcut

Race 6 – Zephyr Challenge Cup – Rob Larke and Dave Freemantle

Overall First – DYA Rose Bowl – Andy Williams and Angus Fellows
Overall Second – Foc’sle Trophy – Rob Larke and Dave Freemantle
Dan Trout Trophy (First Topsham boat) - Ed Williams-Hawkes and Strangler
Best visiting boat – Eduardo Aldaz-Carroll and Paul Kameen

Photos by Paul Gibbins Photography available from the Saturday racing here...

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