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Blaze Eastern Championships at Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, Burnham

by Alex Porteous 24 Aug 2021 23:34 BST 21-22 August 2021

The 2020 Blaze Easterns was my first event in the Blaze and it was a matter of hanging on (quite often to the centreboard) for survival in the strong winds. This time round I was prepared and had even acquired a Fire sail "just in case".

However, as Saturday came around, there may have been plenty of activity in the dinghy park but the breeze was light and there were murmurings of a postponement. Phil Aspinall (PRO & RCYC Commodore) had clearly paid attention to the weather forecast though and instead of waiting it out onshore got us sailing up the Crouch to the vicinity of the Roach where we were met by a gentle breeze and sunshine - perfect.

A trapezoid course was set and race one was started with only a small delay as the wind continued to fill in. The fleet were clearly very keen to get going and it took three attempts (and the appearance of the black flag) before the race truly commenced.

Unfortunately, Ian Pittendreigh (788) was OCS and required to peel off to watch the antics from a distance as the fleet hugged the shore on the run and tried to keep out of the melee round the leeward marks.

As expected, Ben Harden (860) continued his winning streak and was followed across the line by Nic Tolhurst (849) whilst Micky Wright (705) proved that Mark 2 Blazes are not slow in taking third.

Races two and three followed a similar pattern for Ben, though I was told that Nic was ahead of him at one point (unfortunately a bit too far away for me to notice) in race two. Race three saw the effect of the black flag once more and this time it was Nic Tolhurst and Stuart Mears (sailing Malcolm Hutching's Blaze) who fell foul and headed home for the early beer giving Tye Wichard (716) and Rory Munro (854 - only the second time in the Blaze) to take second and third respectively.

The team at the RCYC provided great food, beer and company as competitors tucked into hearty portions and enjoyed a few games of miniature boat racing (winding string as quickly as possible to pull a model boat across the floor). Attempts were made to put Ben off his game with tequilas and rum being consumed but as similar amounts were being drunk by other participants, questions were raised as to whether it would have any effect!

Day two and the weather couldn't have been more different - breeze, clouds and rain! Racing was intense and a fair few got their capsize practising in early (yours truly was very grateful for the all the practice she had last year). Unfortunately gear failure meant the end for a couple but for the rest of us (and a few new faces who could only make the second day of racing) it was brilliant fun.

Again, it was Ben and Nic who took first and second in each of the races whilst Ian Pittendreigh showed consistency with thirds across the board. For the rest of us, there were plenty of position changes and many battles fought so whilst the first two places overall were pretty clear, it was still all to play for the rest of the top five.

Ultimately it was Tye Wichard who with some consistent racing took third place overall ahead of Ray Apthorp (777) and Micky Wright (also first Poly boat).

Once boats were ashore (thanks to everyone who helped with the launch and recovery - a great job) and crews refreshed, the prize-giving was held. A huge thanks was given to the PRO and his team for the running of such a fantastic event, wine and cheers were also given to the safety teams who were definitely kept a bit busier on the Sunday and of course Nic Tolhurst for organising. Then onto the prizes which were very kindly provided by Allen, The Old Salt Loft, and Rooster.

As well as prizes for the top five as mentioned above, prizes were given to the furthest visitor (Ian Pittendreigh - all the way from Aberdeen), highest place newcomer (Rory Munro), endeavour prize for the completion of all races (Jason Phelps), first lady (Alex Porteous, although some dispute as to whether the award should have gone to Keith Gilmore for using his Fire sail on Sunday!) and a special mention and prize was awarded to Liam Hannah the boat breaker of the weekend - the parts broken are too many to list.

Overall a fantastic event brilliantly supported by the Blaze fleet with 29 entrants and a number of new faces who I am sure we will see more of on the circuit over the coming year.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoBoat NameHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1st860Hard 'n' FastBen HardenBSC‑1111115
2nd849Cyber Death MonkeyNic TolhurstRCYC22(BFD)22210
3rd716 Tye WichardRCYC‑53255419
4th777TRPRay ApthorpRCYC45887‑1232
5th705Five 'O'Micky WrightRCYC3104‑1191137
6th788 Ian Pittendreigh (BFD)4BFD33338
7th854RBlazed and ConfusedJack Grogan 61197‑12639
8th854BMarianneRory MunroRCYC1173‑1211941
9th799Gone OutRichard BottingDraycote SC78‑13108841
10th836Nice Bit of PoshStuart MearsRCYC(NSC)6BFD610552
11th509Too HotNathan ClarkRCYC10155914(RET)53
12th661Jiminy CricketJames Dallimore 8961817‑1958
13th719Crash 'n' BurnNick MiltonRCYC‑1816713151667
14th607 Jake BraybrookBSC14121217‑191368
15th676Where's Willy?Alex PorteousRCYC9‑191415131869
16th834EkajatiCharlie MatthewsRCYC(DNC)DNCDNC44771
17th614Just for FunBob LadellKing George SC17‑211816181483
18th844Blazing SaddlesKeith GilmourRCYC(DNC)DNCDNC1461086
19th691Happy 1Andy Ramsey 161719‑21201587
20th763Vital SparkPeter McFarlane (RET)181620161787
21st804GP SailsGrant Piggott 121411(DNC)DNCDNC93
22nd680 Jason PhelpsRCYC19201519‑212093
23rd818... & Shout !Ian BrandRCYC151310(DNC)DNCDNC94
24th625 Ian KnightsRCYC132217(DNC)DNCDNC108
25th786 Karl ClarkRCYCNSC2320RET(DNC)DNC120
26th63RealityLiam HannaRCYC2024DNSRET(DNC)DNC121
27th855Last RideMike Shreeve (DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNCDNC140

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