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Noble Marine 2022 YY - LEADERBOARD

Illuminis RS Vareo Inland Championships at Milton Keynes Sailing Club

by Paul North 21 Jul 2023 13:24 BST 15-16 July 2023

The Illuminis RS Vareo Inland National Championships 2023 were held at Milton Keynes Sailing Club over the weekend of 15/16 July with a training day on the preceding Friday. This was also the second event in this year's Rooster National Tour.

The forecast for the weekend built steadily as the date approached, with a huge low coming in threatening gale force winds and thunderstorms. Happily, this did not deter the competitors travelling to Milton Keynes with their fingers crossed, including 5 sailors at their first Vareo open meeting.

With Friday's forecast of heavy rain from 9am and winds building to gusts around 24mph, our coach Pete Vincent made plans for a short water session in the morning and something shore based after lunch. On the day, the rain didn't really arrive until after midday and the wind never really got up at all, so 10 sailors received some great coaching with several hours on the water. At one point Pete even needed to talk about improving skills when tacking in light winds! Many thanks to Pete for a great day, much enjoyed and valued by all those who attended.

However, the forecast for Saturday was always terrible with every prediction suggesting gusts of over 40mph so a decision was made early on Saturday morning to cancel the racing with a decent chance of being able to do something on Sunday morning. Some people took advantage to go and explore the delights of Milton Keynes while the rest were offered the chance of some fun team racing in Picos. After some debate 6 intrepid sailors took to the water in winds of 30mph gusting to 45.

In 2 teams of 3 and with a scoring system of 1 point to the team that didn't have the last sailor to cross the line it was all about tactics rather than racing off in the lead. Much fun was had, and we provided 90 minutes of entertainment to those on the shore. Many thanks to Race Officers Keith King and Ken Metcalf for providing some semblance of order.

Following lunch with the much-anticipated cake made by my wife Moira, some watched the Wimbledon Ladies Final while others occupied themselves with a bit of bimbling in the boat yard.

The fleet reassembled with family and friends for a fish and chip supper and a few beers before retiring to dream of what might be in the morning, given the forecast.

Sunday's forecast was pretty much on the nail, 22 gusting 30 ish. Nicki Fisher decided it was too strong and joined Mark Warren on the committee boat to officiate over three back-to-back races.

With a slightly unhelpful South Westerly, the best course was set that gave a decent beat and a long broad reach down to a gate at the end of Caldecotte Lake South.

In Race 1, local sailor John Carron (normally a 300 sailor) got off to a great start in his first Vareo event, closely followed by Luke Fisher, Dan Partington and Michelle Collier-Brooks. The gusts were brutal, coming and going very quickly giving a real roller-coaster ride. Marie Marshall, normally a river sailor, managed a lap with a storm sail then called it a day. The race saw plenty of capsizes right across the fleet and Neil Brinkworth's kicker snapping on lap 5. Upwind was particularly tough, but for those with the bottle to hoist the kite it was an absolute blast with Nick Crickmore clocking up over 14kts at one point! The leaders were averaging 6 minutes per lap and raced for 7 laps. Those of us struggling managed 3 or 4 amongst the swims.

John held the lead through lap 2 but was passed by Dan and then Luke with Stuart Bailey sailing very consistently just behind. At the finish Dan, Luke, John, Stuart.

Dan headed for the slipway sure that the rest of the fleet would follow him ashore, only to find just a handful of other retirements including Serena Stewardson. Another local, Andy Curtiss, in a borrowed boat had retired to sort some rigging issues and would return for the third race.

Race 2 saw 11 boats come to the start line and once again John finishing the first lap in the lead with Luke and Stuart behind. Luke took up the lead on lap 2 and stayed there until the finish, followed by John, Cheryl Wood who was finding her form and Alan Bassett. Stuart suffered a difficult capsize on lap 4 taking him from 2nd down to 7th. After 3 battering laps Michelle decided her day was done and commented to me when I came ashore "how do you sail here!!". In a brief moment of comedy as I bore away around the windward spreader mark, I hooked it with a trailing spinnaker sheet and dragged it some yards before the anchor took hold again and I came to a grinding halt. I heard a shout from Luke as he lapped me "Oi, leave it alone".

Race 3 saw Neil return in Marie's boat and Andy Curtiss with his boat now sorted, so we were back to 11 starters. It was Stuart's turn to get a great start leading the first lap until, inevitably, Luke took up the lead on lap 2. This time it was Alan's turn for an unrecoverable capsize and retirement.

Finally, I was beginning to get the hang of the upwind leg and with John tiring (and his sailing boots falling apart) was able to follow him up the beat trying to emulate his brilliant sailing. Sadly, on lap 3 in 6th place (my best position all day) my kicker snapped with a noise like a rifle shot, followed about 5 milliseconds later by me hitting the water.

Meanwhile, mid-fleet, Mark Oakton, Alastair Mitton and Andy Nicoll were having another close fight for 8th to 10th. It always seems to be the case that wherever you are in the fleet there is someone else nearby to race against.

Back at the front, Chris Abbott was sailing a very steady race without using the spinnaker and was never out of the top 5. Andy Curtiss, also in his first Vareo event was finding his form and fought his way past Chris and Stuart to take 2nd behind Luke, just 20 seconds in front of Stuart on the line with Chris just 90 seconds behind him.

Back on shore, lunch and more cake awaited followed by prizes presented by Julie Dawes, the Event and Community Engagement Officer of the Parks Trust - the organisation that looks after Milton Keynes' green spaces including our lake.

Many thanks to the great army of volunteers from MKSC for managing the racing and providing much needed safety-cover, and of course to Moira, my sister Lu and Marian for the catering and support.

Thank you to all of the competitors for coming to our event, it couldn't happen without you.

And finally, of course, thanks to our valued sponsors, Rooster and illuminis insight software

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3Pts
1st621Luke FisherEmberton Park SC2114
2nd386John CarronMilton Keynes SC32611
3rd345Stuart BaileyWilsonion SC47314
4th660Cheryl WoodPennine SC73515
5th649Chris AbbottThe Nottingham SC65415
6th247Alan BassettPevensey Bay SC54DNF22
7th170Nick CrickmoreWaveney & Oulton Broad YC86DNF27
8th304Mark OaktonMilton Keynes SC109928
9th285Andy NicollOxford SC9101029
10th443Paul NorthMilton Keynes SC118DNF32
11th527Dan PartingtonBala SC1DNCDNC37
12th567Andy CurtissMilton Keynes SCDNFDNC237
13th391Alastair MittonChew Valley SC12DNC838
14th384Neil BrinkworthThe Nottingham SCDNFDNC742
15th444Michelle Collier‑BrooksOxford SCDNFDNFDNC46
16th407Serena StewardsonEmberton Park SC13DNCDNC49
17th184Marie MarshallThe Nottingham SCDNFDNCDNC53

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