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2022 Devon Yawl National Championship at Brixham Yacht Club

by Tim Petitt 5 Jul 2022 10:52 BST 2-3 July 2022
Rob & Alexandra Graham win the 2022 Devon Yawl Nationals © Helen Matthews

The Brixham Yacht Club, in Devon, hosted the 24th Devon Yawl National Championships over the weekend of 2nd & 3rd July. A total of eight Devon Yawls entered, including 3 boats from Topsham S.C., three from the Yealm Y.C, one from Newport Boat Club and one from Dawlish.

The weekend was forecast to be medium South Westerlies, 12-17 knots on the Saturday and more breeze on the Sunday from the North West.

Saturday arrived, a cloudy day, with overnight rain hanging around. However the day dried out and the breeze was as forecast.

The race format for the weekend was to be six races, (three each day) of approximately 1 hour duration on a triangle, sausage, triangle course.

Race 1 - A clear start in 8-10 knots of breeze saw the fleet spread out across the course over the relatively long beat with DY13 Rob & Alex Graham leading at the windward mark, closely followed by DY186, Tim & Gemma Petitt, third round was DY351 Ed William-Hawkes and Strangler. These positions held for the two reaches of the triangle and the second beat, however on the run home to the finish, DY186 closed up on DY13, and on the gybe to the last mark before the reach to the finish managed to get an inside overlap, just pipping Rob & Alex to the gun, and it was a proper gun!

Race 2 - After a bit of a tussle on the start line, just before the start, causing 3 boats to come together, DY186 led off the line and managed to sail a clear race to lead all the way to the finish. However there was a good fight between DY351, DY13 and DY141 Mike & Rowan Roberts for the other podium positions. DY351 pulling clear on the second beat leaving a close tussle between DY141 and DY13 on the final downwind leg, with each boat trying to get the inside overlap for the gybe to the finish line. DY141 is the victor after several gybes and close quarters racing.

Race 3 - The breeze had picked up a little now to 12-15knots, with some gusts coming down the valley from Churston. A clean start, with DY13 and DY186 swapping tacks up the first beat, and close to each other most of the two reaching legs of the triangle with DY13 just ahead, all the concentration was on this match for the 2nd and final beat. However, DY96 James McNaughton and crew Lewis spotted an opportunity and a shift on the 'unfashionable left' as they called it later, and popped out ahead at the windward mark, closely followed by DY13 and DY186. On the last run with DY96 well ahead DY13 & DY186 started on opposite gybes, and DY186 just edged ahead on the downwind and crossed ahead of DY13 on the gybe to get the inside lane at the last mark before the finish gate.

What was surprising was that though only a small fleet, the racing was as close as ever, and the fleet was not spread out across the course, at one point on the last run on race two, 3x boats were line abreast on the run.

The fleet returned to the Brixham Y.C. events pontoon for a well earned beer/cup of tea. Followed by dinner of fish & chips, well it was Brixham, home of the UK's largest fish market.

Sunday was forecast to be lighter winds and sunny, however although sailing out to the start line, the winds were lighter, they soon built to 15-17knots during race 4, with plenty of sunshine.

Now from the N.W. the windward mark was laid into the head of the bay at Paignton. There were some good shifts coming off the land, and getting into the correct shift would prove essential for a good result.

Unfortunately for Mike Roberts DY141, a crewing problem meant he couldn't get out on the Sunday, however he joined the rescue boat to keep an eye on the fleet of seven.

DY304 had made some overnight tweaks to the rig, and came back with a stronger set of results on day two.

Race 4 - DY13 Rob & Alex Graham and DY304 Jay & Graham Williamson led off the start line and went up the middle, cross tacking and making the most of the puffs coming out from the Paignton shore. It was a close race between the two boats, with DY13 just coming out the victor.

It was noticeable now, that the shifty beat was spreading the fleet out more than on the Saturday, making for some large gains and losses which became evident by Race 5.

Race 5 - DY351 Ed Williams - Hawkes and crew Strangler spotted an advantage out to the right hand side of the first beat, and enjoyed a good starboard tack lift almost up to the mark, those on the left hand side of the course lost out. DY121 with David, Helen and son Daniel Matthews, sailing three up, made it to second around the windward mark. DY186 concentrating on DY13 up the beat was caught out on a port & starboard with DY91 and had to do a penalty turn.

Race 6 - The right hand side of the beat was now looking very popular, the fleet bunched up at the committee boat end looking for an early tack onto port. DY304 won the start at the committee boat end, and then tacked off on to port heading out to the right. DY186 managed to be over at the start, and had to return and restart. DY 304 Jay & Graham Williamson from Newport Boat Club led the fleet around the course, never looking threatened and took the final race win. DY13 Rob & Alex Graham sailed a strong race, short tacking on every shift up the middle and were rewarded with a second place, which secured them the overall championship win.

What was noticeable was that there were five different winners from the six races, getting a good start, as ever is crucial in getting out into the lead and sailing your own race.

Brixham Yacht Club and Mike Roberts did a fantastic job of organising the boats to be recovered to their trailers, the shore crew using their Land Rover with front tow hitch, pulled all the yawls up the slipway and lined them up for packing away.

The prize-giving was held at Brixham Yacht Club, and thanks given to the race committee for organising the event, particularly Mike Roberts, race officer Peter, the committee boat crew and the rescue boat drivers, not forgetting the chef and bar staff for fantastic food and drink.

Looking forward to next year's Devon Yawl nationals at the Yealm Y.C. at Newton Ferrers.

Overall Results:
If you took part in the Devon Yawl nationals then enter your Gear Guide information here

PosSail NoHelm / CrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1DY13Rob Graham / Alexandra Graham YYC2‑4313211
2DY351Ed Williams‑Hawkes/ StranglerTSC32441313
3DY186Tim Petitt / Gemma PetittYYC112‑55514
4DY304Jay Williamson / Graham WilliamsonNBC5‑6522115
5DY96James McNaugton / LewisTSC4‑5134416
6DY91Adrian Troop / Steve KeatsTSC6‑7666630
7DY141Michael Roberts / Rowan RobertsTCYC737(DNC)DNCDNC35
8DY121David Matthews / Helen Matthews / Daniel MatthewsYYC‑88877737

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