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Noble Marine 2022 YY - LEADERBOARD

Noble Marine Lightning 368 Sea Championship at the Lymington Dinghy Regatta

by John Butler 13 Jul 11:53 BST 9-10 July 2022

Eight Lightnings entered the Noble Marine Insurance Lightning 368 Sea Championships, as part of the slow handicap fleet in the Lymington Dinghy Regatta. Unfortunately one sailor had to withdraw due to testing positive for Covid, so eventually seven boats took part.

In a baking hot weekend, sunblock and water bottles were an absolute requirement as the temperature headed towards 30 degrees with an ultra-high UV factor.

Race 1

The first race was held in a lightish north easterly wind with the flood tide crossing at 90 degrees to the direction of the windward mark, and with the threat of the sea breeze cancelling out the morning wind direction, and some big shifts in direction in a short period of time, the race sequence was delayed by over an hour whilst the course marks were set and reset.

At the start, there was an early contretemps at the pin end between Terry Hunt and Duncan Cheshire, which caused Duncan to be squeezed out at the buoy as a consequence. Robbie Claridge had envisaged the tide would carry him onto the buoy, so started a couple of boat lengths to leeward and got away cleanly.

Terry was then in contention with Robbie up the beat until a big header caught Terry out, and he capsized to windward. Meanwhile Duncan re-rounded the mark last, tacked away onto port and got a huge lift which took him up to second behind Robbie.

The Slow Handicap fleet, including the Lightnings, were set a separate set of inner top marks from the earlier starting fleets on the West Course, and Duncan spotted that Robbie and all of the others were heading to the wrong outer windward mark. Once Duncan had spotted their mistake, and established a tactical lead by being observant, only then did he alert the Robbie & others to their error.

With the cross tide compounding the error, forcing the others to reach down to the buoy, Duncan had a decent lead over the bunch when he set off downwind against the worst of the the current.

Robbie rounded second, with Tony Jacks and Jeremy Cooper in hot pursuit. It took until the start of the second beat before Robbie worked his way back to Duncan, but he then proceeded to pull away to the downwind finish in what was a very curtailed short race.

At the finish, Tony was ahead of Jeremy for third, and John Butler managed to hold off a recovering Terry for fifth with Bryan Westley in close pursuit.

There was then yet another postponement of about an hour whilst the sea breeze filled in from the west, making for lumpy wind over tide conditions whilst the race team reset the marks.

Race 2

The second race was an entirely different affair with the wind rising to a good 15 knots at times.

The tide turned before the start, and that made it easier to punch to windward against the waves as the chop lessened somewhat when the race started.

Robbie used his favourite tactic of being just down from the Committee Boat to ensure clear air to leeward, and with the tide carrying the fleet over the line many were forced to bear off to stay the right side of it. Robbie played the middle in the full tide whilst the others tacked inshore, and very quickly he rounded the mark to port and crabbed across the tide to the inner turning mark in the trapezoidal course.

Here he and the rest of the Lightning joined the earlier-starting Fast Handicap and Aero fleets in running downwind from the outer marks against the current to the common leeward turning marks.

It got really tasty rounding the bottom marks with both fleets combined together, and Robbie gained even more by not being involved in the ensuing fracas. Tony emerged from the melée ahead of Jeremy and Duncan, and that was how it finished after another sail around the cans.

Race 3

After a hearty evening meal at the Royal Lymington Yacht Club and a fitful night's sleep due to the heat, the early morning start to racing was postponed for an hour to let the sea breeze fill in.

After an hour long sail out to the starting area, there was a further postponement when the fleet reached the Committee Boat, but the breeze held steady, and with the strong ebb tide running to the west, and a westerly wind direction, the beats were to be short affairs whilst the reaches and runs were much longer, and again in company of the other fleets.

At the start, Robbie won the pin end this time and got clean away, with Tony and John going inshore in hot pursuit. Jeremy judged the approach to the windward mark perfectly, whilst Tony and John overstood it once the tide was taken into consideration, allowing Duncan back in.

Apart from the usual interaction with the other classes downwind, the remainder of the race was processional, with Robbie well out in front and Jeremy staying ahead of Duncan with Tony fourth.

Race 4

With the last race starting soon after the finish of Race 3, it was a relief to get going again.

Robbie was again slightly down the line from the Committee Boat, but there was an incident between Jeremy and Duncan immediately by the Committee Boat, compounded by another one between two RS Fevas behind and to windward of Robbie that compromised John and Bryan.

This all gave Robbie a distinct advantage, and after a perfectly judged beat playing the shifts up the middle, he compounded his advantage downwind to finish over 2 minutes clear of the chasing group.

It was a battle royal for second place, with Tony and Duncan having a personal dogfight upwind and down, but their tussle allowed Jeremy to get on terms with them, and they all finished within 20 seconds of each other at the end.

Robbie was a convincing winner overall, with Jeremy's recovery to second in the last race taking him to second overall, leaving Tony in third and Duncan in fourth, all of them separated by one point after discards.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4Pts
1st427Robbie ClaridgeLymington Town SC‑11113
2nd411Jeremy CooperShotwick Lake SC‑43227
3rd444Tony JacksBartley SC32‑438
4th434Duncan CheshireWinsford Flash SC2‑4349
5th433John ButlerSutton in Ashfield SC‑555515
6th407Bryan WestleyChase SC‑766618
7th226Terry HuntNetley SC6(DNF)DNCDNC24
8th435Ben TwistBroadstairs SC(DNC)DNCDNCDNC27

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