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Blaze Inland Championships at Hornsea Sailing Club

by Charlie Mathews 14 Oct 13:54 BST
Blaze Inland Championships at Hornsea © Howard Leak

Hornsea Sailing Club played host to the 2021 Blaze National Inland Championships with 23 boats entered. The competitors started to arrive on the Friday to beautiful October weather which promised much in the way of lovely sunshine, views, and scenery around Hornsea Mere but less so of wind.

Those who arrived on the Friday went out for a meal in the evening for fish & chips and several beers. A few of us learned never to take away Rob Froud's beer... (a story you can ask Rob or Pip about if you see them).

Three races were planned for each day and Saturday began with an entertaining briefing from Race Officer, Steve Sharpe, who gave us a brief history of the Mere, its obstacles to avoid and challenging a few of the Blaze sailors on their knowledge of the rules.

Hornsea Mere has nine marks set clockwise around the lake and as an introduction Steve decided in race 1 we should do a course to take us to all but one of these marks. This first race was particularly light and shifty and the key to the first leg was to find the right breeze, something the Chase Water contingent and the local sailors took full advantage of as Mark Blackham in 774 rounded the first mark in the lead, Gareth Hyland in 837 second and Tony Ridley in 857 in third.

With the course set as it was it proved difficult for many opportunities to overtake however after rounding mark 6 Gareth Hyland, 837, went high on a reach and managed to find a bit of breeze which allowed him to pass Mark in 774 and take the lead. These positions held and ended with Gareth, 837, first, Mark, 774, second and Tony Ridley, 857, in third.

After a short break for lunch, there had been a significant wind shift and an increase a steadier breeze had filled in which meant a change of course. It also meant there was more of an opportunity for the race officer to set a course with a decent beat and more of an opportunity for place changes.

Race 2 saw Charlie Matthews in 834 round the windward in first, followed closely by Pip Warner, 812 in second and Tim Heaton in 853 in third. Round the next few marks Charlie managed to pull away whilst Pip was pulled into the pack and by the second lap it was Charlie still ahead, Tim in second and Gareth Hyland had moved into third. By the end Charlie had pulled away to victory whilst Gareth managed to overhaul Tim to take second and Tim finished third.

Race 3 favoured a pin end start which Charlie in 834 took full advantage of and by the time he had rounded the windward already had a decent lead ahead of Pip in 812 and Josh Hyland in 848. Charlie pulled away and at this point was taking a commanding lead whilst there were place changes behind. By lap two Josh moved into second place and Mark Blackham into third. These three places held into the finish whilst a number of those behind jockeyed for position. Day one ended with Charlie Matthews, 834, in first, Gareth Hyland, 837, in second, and Josh Hyland, 848, in third.

That evening most of the competitors headed to the Med (familiar to anyone who has previously done the Hornsea Sprintz series) for a good meal, plenty of beers and a good laugh (and some sore heads the next day).

Day 2 followed with a Northerly wind which would prove tricky for the race officer, as by his own admission this was one of the worst wind directions on the lake.

Despite this, we got started and it was Josh Hyland, 848, who took the lead with Mark Blackham, 774, second and Charlie Matthews 834 in third. The next legs were tricky as the wind was patchy and shifty and boats were seen gybing in two different directions to try and pick something up and take advantage whilst Josh and Mark were pulling away. By the second beat Josh had a strong lead whilst Mark followed.

However, he then struggled as he picked up a clump of weed which by the time, he had sorted had allowed Charlie to move into second. These places held and the race finished with Josh Hyland, 848 well in the lead, Charlie Matthews, 834 second and Mark Blackham in third.

By race 5 the wind had shifted and there was a change in windward mark. The wind around the mark was particularly patchy and very shifty which saw a few of the leading boats struggle once they were close, however a small patch of wind was spotted by Chas Coghill, 671 and Charlie Matthews, 834, which allowed them to round the windward mark in first and second respectively with the same patch of wind propelling Richard Woodcock in 793 round as well into third.

What followed was a nervy run as the breeze dropped off and then began to fill in behind again which bunched up the fleet and at the front put Chas, Charlie & Richard all close together by the gybe mark. Charlie just managed to get inside the mark as Chas kept ahead of Richard and followed down the reach. Charlie managed to start pulling away at this point and after rounding the next few marks had taken a good lead.

By the time we had reached the next windward Charlie was still in the lead, but another puff of breeze filled in at the windward mark which allowed Mark Blackham, 774, to move into second and kept Richard in 793 in third. These places held to the finish.

At this point the wind had really died off and another change in wind direction saw an alteration to the course. The last race, race 6, saw a tricky first beat with low and fickle wind which meant it was key to find the puffs.

One such puff was spotted by Tim Heaton in 853, who rounded the windward in first place, followed by Charlie Matthews, 834, in second and Josh Hyland, 848, in third. This was the start of a great tussle between the three boats as the wind picked up and changed direction, which meant another beat and a chance for Josh to move into first, Tim in second and Charlie holding third. On the reach Charlie went high and managed to overtake the others round the gybe mark. However, it was all still close and by the time the next beat came Josh had managed to take the lead.

However, there was a big wind shift on the windward mark which forced Josh into hitting the mark, Charlie hitting Josh and whilst both were doing turns and in the subsequent chaos Tim moved into second just behind Josh. By the time the run to the finish came all three boats finished within a few boat lengths but Josh Hyland 848, held on for the win. Tim Heaton 853, took second and Charlie Matthews, 834, came in third.

Overall, a challenging weekend for the race officer and for those trying to figure out the shifts and where the breeze was. It was a beautiful weekend's sailing, a brilliantly hosted event by Hornsea SC and Pip Warner, and the last main Blaze event in 2021. Here's to next year!

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1st834Charlie Mathews6112135
2nd848Josh Hyland55211319
3rd774Mark Blackham29332610
4th793Richard Woodcock44863415
5th857Tony Ridley310444915
6th837Gareth Hyland127791017
7th853Tim Heaton839105218
8th812Pip Warner765116522
9th830Mark Cuthbert986811830
10th667Rob Froud137DNC571231
11th711Russ Hall1713101214742
12th799Richard Botting1014129161545
13th614Bob Ladell1817131781351
14th671Chas Coghill11181718101452
15th521Andy Gilding1211141515DNF52
16th763Peter McFarlane16151116181153
17th595Toby Barnard15161513121655
18th524Mat Minton14121614171756
19th850David Hodgson19DNFDNCDNCDNCDNC79

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