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Lark Inland Championship at Banbury Sailing Club

by Stuart Allen 6 Jul 2022 06:10 BST 2-3 July 2022

The Larks gathered for the 2022 Inland Championships at Banbury Sailing Club. The weather looked kind, but just in time for the 2pm start it turned for the worst and various forecasts were generally inaccurate, making life for Principal Duty Officer, Stuart Harris, and his team rather testing. However, with a strong will, all 6 races were completed.

The event was supported well with a Red Arrows fly-past; those punters at Silverstone Grand Prix may have also seen them, as the jets made their way to the Midlands premier sailing event of the weekend!

With the formality of the briefing over, former National Champions Steve Cumley and Eluned Stewart took race one by storm, heading left when it looked as though right may have paid... The real race was between the newly crowned Nationals silver fleet winners, Matt Shorrock (of the Grand Lark Family also know as The Shorrocks and Larkhams) sailing with Cadet legend Katie Kinver and local favourites, Neil and Sue Firth. The Firths could not quite catch the current National Champions, Matt White and Marion Enkel, but staved off the charging silver fleet champs to finish third.

After a suitable tea and cake break (with a notable cake made by Granny Larkham, matriarch of the Grand Lark Family), enforced by a lull in the wind, race two and three were sailed into the early evening. This was considered by all a very respectable format for a two-day event. Race two was led out by Matt and Marion who found the right gear from the start. Behind in their wake, Team Shorrock/Kinver battled hard to catch them, but to no avail. Steve and Eluned worked hard to hold off silver fleeters Stuart and Julia Allen, whilst Rob Larke and Kirsty Phipps finally got on the water and made good progress to finish fifth. During the course of the next race, local dad Steve Burgoine was showing middle son, Coen, the ropes (never having crewed a Lark or used a kite!) and this pair put on a stirling show, with Coen graduating to Apprentice Kite Trimmer.

Overnight Matt and Marion, with two bullets, led the charge ahead of Steve and Eluned, with Matt and Katie third. The day dawned brightly, whilst Steve Burgoine went for a pre-race kite training session, this time sailing with number one son Theo, also on his Lark debut (there's one to watch here!). Andy and Toby Ward were showing a good turn of speed in the testing conditions, to have the jump on Steve and Theo for the first race, before finally being overhauled. The race at the front was being shaken up, with Rob and Kirsty taking on anyone who fancied a tacking match or anyone who didn't... finding their form for the day with a fourth, third and second.

During the mid-race break the Banbury drone came in for a close-up but was wiped out in a collision with a passing masthead and alas, the video footage and the drone ended up in the drink! In an unrelated incident, Matt Shorrock crossed masts with Rob Larke and stripped both boats of their burgees, much to the amusement of the fleet. Team Shorrock/Kinver also have some explaining to do to the Grand Lark Family after being OCS in race five, and then not going through the line on lap two. In the process they easily bagged their discard. Meanwhile, the Firths sailed well, collecting their second third of the weekend by putting in a solid performance.

Steve and Eluned went into the last race needing to win, whilst Matt and Marion needed to finish no worse than third to secure the Inlands title. Steve and Eluned led from the squally start, hotly pursued by White/Enkel. They eventually took a tough decision to match race Matt and Marion by heading back down the beat and attempting to put another boat between them... To no avail in the end, but showing good skills and tactical nous. That left Matt & Marion in the chocolates and smelling of roses, with Steve and Eluned second. Matt and Katie were proud recipients of third, holding up the family name with a solid set of results, whilst the Firths took fourth and first Banbury boat.

Thanks to everyone at Banbury for a fantastic event. The galley team laid on an abundance of home-made cakes and a tasty lunch enjoyed by all. The race team pulled off the full programme despite the testing conditions, resulting in closely fought racing throughout the fleet and worthy Inland Champions. Congratulations Matt White and Marion Enkel.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoBoat NameHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1st2471The JokerMatthew WhiteMarion EnkelWaldringfield SC(2)112116
2nd2496Nelly The ElephantSteve CumleyEluned StewartNetley SC1321(5)29
3rd2540TwocanMatthew ShorrockKatie KinverFrensham Pond SC4255(8)319
4th2537Black VelvetNeil FirthSue FirthBanbury SC344(7)3519
5th2491RobRob LarkeKirsty PhippsRYA(DNS)5632420
6th2509Fluffy ThwartsStuart AllenJulia AllenBanbury SC56344(7)22
7th2199Pink ChampagneSteve BurgoineCoen/Theo BurgoineBanbury SC6(7)766631
8th2481Thin Blue LineAndrew WardToby WardShustoke SC78887(DNC)38

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