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Gill Marine Heron National Championship at Grafham Water Sailing Club

by Amanda Conrad 19 Jul 2022 16:55 BST 9-10 July 2022
Heron Nationals at Graham Water © Paul Sanwell / OPP

As the Herons were unable to hold their National Championships at Welton SC this year, due to problems with weed, the Graduate fleet kindly invited them to join their Nationals at Grafham Water. Heron sailors were delighted at this opportunity to sail on such a magnificent expanse of water with a professional race management team and excellent facilities.

Nine Herons attended the event. Stan Lubner from Welton SC was missed by everyone, but it was good to see his sails and boats (built by Dave Butler) being used by other Welton sailors John Topliss, Steve Abbot, and Peter and Rosie Fletcher. Peter Murgatroyd decided to take over the helm from daughter Ruth.

With forecast winds of northerly 8 to 12 knots, Race Officer Nigel Denchfield welcomed competitors and explained the sausage triangle course that would be used for the four back-to-back races scheduled for Saturday.

Racing started promptly at 12 noon and all races had a clean start with no recalls. Although the Herons started before the Graduates, the faster boats reached the windward mark sooner than anticipated. The wind was such that a puff could send you forward but ignore a boat near you. At this mark, some boats inadvertently covered other boats so they could not move while others took advantage. Some competitors had read, understood and absorbed the changes to Rule 18 and some had not. This made for lively discussion in several of the races!

Sailing free, Matt Pickett gave a master class in roll tacking to keep momentum in his gaff-rigged boat and take the gun in the first race. Dave was clearly missing his crew as he tussled single-handedly with his spinnaker and allowed Tony Dufton through into second place.

The wing mark was moved closer to the committee boat for the second race, and John led the fleet from start to finish. James Russ and Maggie Bolton made the sensible decision to drop their spinnaker for the final leg and finished just ahead of Jo Mayes and Amanda Conrad. The new definition of Finish applies to the hull only!

Jo and Amanda salvaged a poor start to race 3 by staying on the left of the beat with Dave who won the race. John overtook several boats in the second lap, so Matt and he narrowly beat Little Egret.

In the fourth race, Steve Abbot gained a few places to come third behind Matt Pickett in second place and Dave in first. The decreasing wind tested the skill and patience of competitors, some of whom took advantage of the whiskey flag rule.

Back on the shore, Heron sailors held their AGM in the early evening sunshine then enjoyed a tasty meal in the galley at Grafham Sailing Club. It was really great to catch up with other Heron sailors, including Jon and Verna Hunt who had travelled from Chipstead for the evening, and to get to know fleet newcomers Peter and Rosie.

For the fifth race on Sunday 10th July the Herons and Graduates joined club racing in light and variable airs which were very challenging for the Race Officer. The two marks gave a windward leeward course at the start. Shouts of ‘abandon’ could be heard after the extremely slow and frustrating race as the wind changed direction and died. However, despite these infuriating conditions, Dave Butler was still able to find zephyrs of wind and gradually lead the fleet round the course.

After this, the Race Officer wisely stated that, although he had to run club racing, he could not run a championship race in these conditions, so Race 5 was abandoned.

Sean had put a lot of trouble into arranging this event at short notice, and Grafham Sailing Club gave the Herons a warm welcome. Everyone had a good time and was grateful to the sponsors Gill Marine who generously supported the event and donated prizes. These were awarded to the first, second and third places overall, held by Dave Butler, Matt Pickett and John Topliss respectively.

Coleen Butler had designed and made the attractive Stan Lubner memorial trophy for the first helm over 75. It was fitting to award this to Welton sailor John Topliss. Ruth Murgatroyd received the Travellers Trophy as Ruth had travelled c1,800 kilometres to the event! Peter and Rosie Fletcher were the winners of the Clan trophy. Thankfully James Russ and Maggie Bolton were able to take part, against the odds, so they were awarded the Endeavour Bowl.

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

1st Race Yachting World Bowl Matt Pickett
2nd Race Findlay Cup John Topliss
3rd Race Bletchley Bowl Dave Butler
4th Race 4 Herons Glass Dave Butler
5th Race Fused Glass Dave Butler
Ladies Trophy Jo Mayes
Fen and Wood Team Trophy Welton Sailing Club
Newton Crum Tankard (over 65) Peter Murgatroyd
Junior Tankard Not Awarded
Brolga Trophy (over 50) Tony Dufton
Stan Lubner Trophy (over 75) John Topliss
Travellers Trophy Ruth Murgatroyd
Single Handed Trophy Dave Butler
Middle of The Fleet Peter and Rosie Fletcher
West Wick YC Endeavour Bowl James Russ and Maggie Bolton
Clan Trophy (Related Crew) Peter and Rosie Fletcher
5th Place Overall Gibson Plate Peter and Rosie Fletcher
4th Place Overall Kingfisher Cup Steve Abbott
3rd Place Overall Teamac Paints John Topliss
2nd Place Overall John Good Matt Pickett
1st Place Overall Silver Heron Dave Butler

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5Pts
1st10350Dave Butler Welton SC3‑41116
2nd9812Matt Pickett Up River SC1222‑67
3rd10345John Topliss Welton SC‑4134311
4th10344Steve Abbott Welton SC65‑73216
5th10346Peter FletcherRosie FletcherWelton SC‑7366419
6th108Tony Dufton Huddersfield SC2855(DNF)20
7th10343Jo MayesAmanda ConradBewl Water SA574‑8824
8th10089James RussMaggie BoltonChipstead SC86‑97526
9th9400Peter MurgatroydRuth MurgatroydNone‑9989733

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