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Devon Yawl Nationals 2023 at Yealm Yacht Club

by Tim Petitt 7 Jun 2023 13:54 BST 3-4 June 2023
Devon Yawl Nationals 2023 © Paul Gibbins Photography

The 25th Devon Yawl national championship was hosted by the Yealm Yacht Club, Newton Ferrers, Devon over the weekend of 3/4 June.

The River Yealm and Wembury Bay, just outside the entrance to the river, are no strangers to hosting the Devon Yawl nationals. The location is always a popular venue for visiting boats.

With a large local fleet of some 30 boats, a new fleet emerging in Plymouth, plus visitors from Pembrokeshire, Topsham, Lyme Regis and Dawlish a total of 26 boats were on the start line for the first race on Saturday. The fleet was delighted to welcome the three new Yawls beautifully built by James Gough-Allen's Pennant Yachts in Plymouth.

The high-pressure weather and brisk Easterly wind that has been around for several weeks continued and the forecast of 10-12 knots, with gusts in the 15/17 knot range, north easterly through south easterly breeze held true.

The only downside of Easterlies on the Yealm is that the breeze is offshore and therefore shifty close under the cliffs and through the river valley. Coupled with a strong ebb tide from the river into Wembury Bay for most of the race period each day, these conditions set the stage for the weekend.

The race committee set up the start line well out into the bay, with the windward mark to the right side of the river mouth, so offering some relief from the tidal current at the windward mark.

The course set for the weekend was three laps, consisting of a triangle, a windward-leeward and a final triangle. Around 45 minutes to an hour for each race.

For the first race the fleet was away cleanly, with a slight bias to the pin end being negated by having to cross the adverse ebb current from the River Yealm. The fleet split across the course and on arriving at the windward mark, the middle to right side seemed to be paying. DY377 arrived from the right, with DY186 and DY141 coming in from the left, to round the windward mark in that order.

The second upwind lap commenced with a definite right-side bias. However, sailing the shifty conditions trumped the tidal effect, so connecting the significantly stronger gusts, along with the shifts became the strategy. The trickiest part was on the approach to the windward mark, where several boats under-stood having to carry out a last-minute hitch onto port tack. Several over-stood, coming in with cracked sheets and good speed. This resulted in several incidents and penalty turns.

The downwind runs were a perfect dead run, so with jibs poled out and some brisk gusts, keeping clear air and an inside lane for the bottom mark was essential.

The third beat mixed up the fleet again, as some boats forced to go left ended up getting some good lifts. At the end of the first Race, DY377 had prevailed and came home first.

Races two and three were not dissimilar to the first race. However, by the start of race two, everyone was a bit eager and a general recall was required with a subsequent restart under the black flag. This solved the fleet starting discipline and despite one other general recall over the weekend, was the only time the black flag was seen.

Race two was won by DY383.

On the gun for the start of race three, a massive left shift hit the line. Those reacting quickly tacked onto port and led almost straight towards the windward mark, the breeze headed as the fleet went up the beat, but the die was cast and the first two boats off the line on port tack, DY54 and DY186 led round the course to finish in that order.

By the end of the first day, there was a group of 6 boats posting some consistent results that were looking good for day two. However, two of the race winners had also had a double-digit result. These they would hope to discard on completion of the six-race series.

The Sunday forecast was for more of the same with a slightly fresher breeze. The start of race 4 saw a good 15/18 knots south-easterly. Full sunshine and flat water made for fantastic sailing conditions.

With a slight bias towards the committee boat end, the fleet bunched up on the committee boat, with those on board having to duck a few times as booms came a little close for comfort. The constant wind shifts in each gust made it tricky to set a square start line.

Getting a good committee boat start certainly paid off on race 4, as the middle, right side of the course looked favourite again. The windward mark was now to the left of the position for Saturday's races and right in the middle of the ebbing tidal stream.

Although DY141 made it to the windward mark first, DY377 showed some good downwind speed and passed to take the lead. DY186 held on and was close behind in second at the bottom mark of the last lap. On the short beat to the finish line DY186 split tacks with DY377. DY 186 tacked onto starboard for the line and DY377, on port, tacked on DY186's lee bow. A tense few seconds went by as both boats headed for the finish side by side, DY377 just taking their second win by a bowsprit length.

Race five. The pattern was set and DY377 popped out in the lead at the windward mark. The finish was almost a re-run of race 4. DY377 tacked onto DY186's lee bow and squeezed DY186 up on the final sprint to the line, DY377 taking a third win by a boat length.

The front runners for the series, all counting a discard race from the Saturday, knew that a good result was required for race 6. The normal sequence of events on the beat, middle to right, play the shifts and gusts was interrupted on the first beat by DY351 coming in from the left on a big lift separating the leading pack of five. However, by the third lap, the finishing order was DY377, DY141 and DY186.

DY377 had sailed a fantastic Sunday, with three straight wins sealing the championship and a total of only 6 points after discard. DY186 was second with 11 points. DY383 and DY141 with identical discards were tied on points, DY383 taking third place by having won a race.

The prize-giving was held at the Yealm Yacht Club and Elly Pegg and Danny Faye, having both sailed yawls on the Yealm for many years, were well deserved and popular winners.

Full results are available on the Yealm Yacht Club website at www.yealmyachtclub.co.uk

There is also a great drone video of day 2 on YouTube by Agile Air Imaging, search under 2023 Devon Yawl Nationals or go to the Devon Yawl Association website at devonyawl.co.

We would like to thank the beer barrel sponsors Pennant Yachts and Ullman Sails UK. Also our thanks go out to Paul Gibbins Photography, Agile Air Imaging and Nicola Davis for all the fabulous pictures and film from the weekend.

Overall Results:
If you finished in the top ten at the Devon Yawl nationals then enter your Gear Guide information here

PosSail NoHelmCrewR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1DY377Elly PeggDanny Faye12‑111116
2DY186Tim PetittTony Callcut2‑9222311
3DY383Andy WilliamsAlex Paulsson‑101343617
4DY141Robert LarkeRebecca Roberts3‑10534217
5DY54Dan FellowsClare Dudley5316‑11520
6DY304Jay WilliamsonGraham Williamson4448‑10424
7DY388Conrad HumphriesAnthony Collins(DSQ)61555839
8DY13Robin GrahamAlexandra Graham878‑1161140
9DY351Ed Williams‑HawkesStrangler Williams‑Hawkes6(DSQ)1277941
10DY96James McNaughtonLewis Banfield987‑1691043
11DY80ATim YongeJohn Leal712912‑14747
12DY299Kevin ThomasDermot Cox‑17146981350
13DY376Jon RickardJames Gough‑Allen1411101015‑1660
14DY121David Matthews Daniel Matthews1318‑1913121268
15DY390Thomas KneenFrancesca Kneen(DNS)132014161477
16DY320Julian WhiteleyChris Whiteley15‑171715131777
17DY386Steve NorthmoreRoss Borne19513(DNS)DNSDNS91
18DY35Keith PhillipsEd Harland18(RET)DNS18171595
19DY367Jeremy WhiteHelen Bruno2021‑2417191895
20DY100AAndrew MatthewsCaroline Pellow121614(DNS)DNSDNS96
21DY38Ned MumfordTom Dutton111518(DNS)DNSDNS98
22DY324Sam WoodsCatherine Woods2220‑23201820100
23DY366Robert FletcherChris Burrell21‑2421192119101
24DY36David Sheppard Sally Sheppard161916(DNS)DNSDNS105
25DY65Bob JefferyPhil Hawker2322(DNS)212021107
26DY348Michael ProsserErik Jewell242322(DNF)DNSDNS123

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