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M&S District Marblehead Championship 2024 at Three Rivers Radio Yachting Club

by Roger Stollery 27 Feb 16:05 GMT 24 February 2024
Chris Harris with slightly slacker sails pulls away from the fleet after the start of Race 3 - M&S District Marblehead Championship & GAMES 2 at Three Rivers © Gillian Pearson

Fog, light winds from the east south-east and the forecast of rain put off three of the fourteen entries for the M&S District Marblehead Championship & GAMES 2, but those who sailed in the eleven races created some exciting, but frustrating racing and stayed dry as there was no rain.

The wind blew from behind the trees in the control area, creating a changing wind direction whether you were close to control area or out in the clearly stronger wind offshore.

Race Officer John Male set a simple windward leeward course, with two runs and three beats. Despite the length of the course and the variability of the wind there was some exciting finishes, particularly as the finish line was in a particularly quiet area.

Right from the start Chris Harris sailing his light GRUNGE, set the pace with three wins, but was beaten in Race 4 by Trevor Innes sailing a borrowed STARKERS, before repeating those winning results. Unsurprisingly Chris was on the top of the lunchtime leaderboard with a score of 5, with Tony Guerrier 13 and Barrie Martin 15 points.

Chris's strategy was to stay in the strong breeze and well over stand the windward mark so as to approach it with speed, whilst the alternative strategy used by Barrie of sticking to the rhumb line and tacking on the shifts was equally good at times. Tony sailing his GRUNGE used this strategy to win Race 8.

On the run Chris use the same strategy, which allowed him to approach the leeward gate, again at speed at a higher angle than the running boats and was always the inside boat at the leeward gate mark. Despite not having sailed at Three Rivers since 1991 he demonstrated his mastery of these conditions in retaining the Silver plate trophy that he won in 2021.

It was encouraging that there were eight different designs from five different designers and some local competitors again racing Marbleheads. John Howell sailing a Vickers V1 started to go well at the end once he had the trim setup better. John Horsfield sailed a beautiful varnished timber hull to Brad Gibson's INDIE design.

It was also good to see the two entries from Gosport, Bob Pearson and young Lewis Wyeth both sailing STARKERS, the potential of which was demonstrated by Barrie racing his into second place. He was only one of two boats that used a masthead wind indicator that he felt so important 'to see the wind' in these wildly changeable conditions.

At the prize-giving John Male and his trusted four man team were thanked for putting on yet another good event in difficult conditions. Conditions may become more difficult in future as the Council has banned the use of stakes for holding down the tent and its guy ropes, which are essential for holding the tent against the wind.


1st Chris Harris, Windrush, GRUNGE, 9pts
2nd Barrie Martin, London MYC, STARKERS 2, 25pts
3rd Tony Guerrier, 3 Rivers, GRUNGE, 26pts
4th Roger Stollery, Guildford, UP, 34pts
5th John Howell, 3 Rivers, Vickers V1, 42pts
6th Bob Pearson, Gosport, STARKERS 2, 57pts
7th Trevor Innes, 3 Rivers, STARKERS 2, 61pts
8th Graham Sadler, 3 Rivers, ROK, 61pts
9th Lewis Wyeth, Gosport, STARKERS 3, 68pts
10th John Horsfield, 3 Rivers, INDIE, 69pts
11th Tom Rodger, 3 Rivers, PRIME NUMBER, 93pts

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