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Henri-Lloyd - For the Obsessed

Flying Fifteen Classic & Silver Nationals at Bassenthwaite Sailing Club

by Graham Lamond 11 Aug 2023 11:26 BST 5-6 August 2023
Flying Fifteen Classic & Silver Nationals at Bassenthwaite - Classic Nationals Winners Bryan Willis and John McPeake with Souter built IRL817 talking to Bobby Salmond (centre) © Graham Lamond

The first weekend of Bass week saw six Classic and five Silver boats join a combined fleet of 27 Flying Fifteens for a series of four races to determine who would be the Classic and Silver Champions for 2023. Boats were given an overall score in the main fleet and the results of Classic and Silver were then scored separately within their own class.

Great credit is due to those who had made long journeys for the event, with Kenny and Paul Leask bringing their Silver boat down from Lerwick in Shetland. In the Classic fleet Graham Sharp and Iain Best came down from Plockton in the Highlands to join Bobby Salmond from Loch Earn sailing with local crew Hanah Preston. Previous winners Bryan Willis and John McPeake came from County Antrim in Northern Ireland, whilst Peter Needham and Tim Wilkins came up from Burton. Closer to home, Graham and Rachel Lamond came over from Ripon with the final boat being from Bass itself, crewed by Andy and Alan Smith. The Silver fleet was completed by Mark Meadows from Teesside, Jordan Aspin sailing with Jason Beans from Barrow and Bass boats helmed by Ian Preston and Keith Thomas.

Saturday's races were held in a reasonable but variable breeze which, unusually for Bass, came from the east. The Fifteens were away as the second fleet in a series of eleven, with the gun going every two minutes. With around 220 boats on the water, the start area was crowded to say the least!

The 2021 Classic winners, Bryan Willis and John McPeake showed their intent on repeating their success by scoring two wins in class and a remarkable 5th and second in the main fleet overall. Such was the heat of competition in the Classic fleet that in the second race there were three Classics in the top 5 places in the main fleet. Sadly, a great effort by Graham Sharp to win the second race in class and second overall was nullified when he was scored OCS. Behind Bryan, Graham Lamond and Andy Smith were tied for second place, each with a 4th and a second.

In the Silver fleet, Kenneth and Paul Leask in 3398 showed similar intent, scoring two bullets in class and 10th and 8th in the main fleet. Behind them, Bass Commodore Ian Preston lay second with a 3rd and 2nd and Jordan Aspin in third with a 2nd and 4th.

Saturday evening saw the traditional Bass week opening night with the Commodore's reception where Ian Preston, now resplendent in jacket and tie, welcomed all competitors with drinks and light buffet, followed by live music until late. The clubhouse, like the campsite, was packed with sailors enjoying the great social scene and swapping stories of how their day had gone.

Sunday dawned bright, but windless. The start was delayed by 45 minutes to allow the wind to build and it came as a stiffening breeze under a threatening dark cloud which, in the end didn't come to anything and the breeze gradually faded over the day, such that the last part of race four was sailed in almost drifting conditions with wisps of air drifting across the lake in various directions, and creating tension as boats desperately sought anything to keep them moving. Bryan and John in 817 struggled to find their form from Saturday and could only manage 4th and 3rd in class, whilst Alan Smith scored a 3rd and 1st and Graham Lamond two 2nd places. Bobby Salmond in 627 scored a win in race 3 with a late pass on Graham Lamond in 1155, to give his crew Hannah her first ever race win. The win was a welcome result for Bobby as he and the boat have a proud history of victories over many years, going right back to winning the Nationals in 1964 when the boat was only a year old.

Kenny Leask in the Silver fleet had no such problems in the trying conditions and scored another two wins for a faultless series. Ian Preston also maintained his consistency with two more 2nd places and Jordan Aspin completing race 3 with a 3rd before having to leave for an early start work the following day. Sadly, Graham Sharp had also had to head home, which was understandable given that the dying breeze extended the race finish to around 4.45pm.

With races done and the scores in, it was trophy time and an impressive array of silver and glassware for all fleets was laid out, including the FF trophies.

Despite a less successful Sunday, Bryan Willis and John McPeake in IRL817 had nevertheless done enough to win the Classic Nationals for a second time with a final score of 5 points and were duly awarded the framed photo of Neesa, FF No 6, winner of the first FF Nationals. The Coweslip trophy for winner of the last race went to Andy and Alan Smith and 2372, who's result provided the tie breaker of 6 points with Graham Lamond in 1155, also on 6 points. Rachel Lamond won the rose bowl Classic Ladies trophy for first lady helm or crew.

There was no doubt at all about the Silver fleet winner and Kenny and Paul Leask were duly awarded the Silver fleet trophy, a stylized artwork of a Flying Fifteen, newly re-framed, courtesy of 2022 winner Jordan Aspin.

Thanks go to all who attended, many travelling great distances to make this a successful event, for which the momentum is slowly building and we hope to see more boats coming next year as we move around the country to give owners a chance to attend. Watch out for details of next year's venue over the coming months. It is notable that in a mixed fleet of 27 boats, five silver and classic fleet boats, some over 60 years old, were in the top 12 places. Proof, if it were needed that well sorted and maintained older boats can still provide good competition and enjoyment in the class.

Finally, a big thank you to Ian Preston, Commodore, and John Reekie, Sailing Secretary, along with Bassenthwaite Sailing Club for hosting this event as part of a very busy Bass Week where the class had a healthy attendance of 27 boats, with many staying on to enjoy the racing programme for the rest of the week.

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