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Blaze Eastern Championship at Isle of Sheppey Sailing Club

by Lee Marriott 6 May 06:15 BST 4-5 May 2024
Blaze Eastern Championship at the Isle Of Sheppey © IOSSC

Costa-del-Sheppey shines

Three bullets for Burnham's Charlie Matthews in the Blaze Eastern Championships. It wasn't easy, but the nimble Blaze Class Chairman pulled off some superb sailing, chased by local, Russell Wheeler and London-based Douglas Clow, who seemed to be swapping places left, right and centre.

Day 1

Race 1 - The light 6 to 8 kts meant a close fleet throughout the race. Douglas was first to the windward mark followed by Russell, and Charlie with a small gap already developing between them and Hartley Boats' very own Will Gould (Carsington SC) and event organiser, Lee Marriott. As a tester race only 2 laps where sailed, which became a bit of a procession once Charlie had pulled ahead of the Doug and Russ. Although they continued to swap places throughout the race, Russ got ahead to take second. Burghfield's David Shafto, mixing it with Will and Lee, managed to hit the Mark and promptly swore audibly and amusingly for most surrounding racers. Had he kept quiet he probably would have got away with it!

Race 2 - The wind started to build and was now far more comfortable on the racks. New to the fleet, Chris Goymer, another local, conducted a hull inspection 3 minutes before the gun but recovered quickly to start on time. Charlie, proving that light & flat was faster than fat and flat pulled ahead. 3 laps were sailed with Charlie leading from the start and the usual Russ vs Doug battle continued, with Will and Lee fighting for 4th spot. The wind continued to build, playing in to Charlie's hands as his lead stretched further. Mid fleet and those close by saw lots of changes on all legs making for some tight and interesting racing. Charlie took the win, followed by Russ, Doug, Will and Lee.

Race 3 - The wind had built to around 14kts and the heavier crews started to perform better. A port flyer from Will failed miserably as he appeared to be in a different time zone, opening the way for Charlie (again), Doug and now Lee, who'd managed to sail over Russ, the two Sheppey boys' rivalry now well and truly in full swing. But the pair, unable to keep up with Charlie and Doug, had covered each other until the heavier Lee overhauled them and pulled ahead as the wind strength increased further. The sun made an appearance which brightened everyone's spirits and boat performance. The race was more stable and Charlie took his 3rd bullet, followed by Doug and Lee.

Day 2

Woke up to glorious sunshine and blue skies. But alas no wind. For those early risers who enjoyed an IOSSC breakfast bap, it was clear that the wind was coming. A 30 minute postponement went up just to make sure there was enough wind to combat the tide. What a treat! The PRO Mick Greenland had set the 'Reverse P' course (some would say a lower case Q, but who am I to argue?!) which has proved a hit with the fleet and, in my opinion, was a fantastic call.

Race 4 - The Race got off cleanly with the last of the flood tide keeping the class under control. The usual suspects edged out in front with Charlie, Russ and Douglas fighting to the windward mark. It was Doug who rounded first, followed by Russ & Charlie. Chris, who'd decided to go hard right on the beat was next to round. Positions changed throughout the 3 lap race, but once Charlie got ahead of Russ and Doug, he was uncatchable. Just behind the lead pack, Chris, Will and Lee were at it for the 4th spot. However, David had come in to form and got between Will and Lee with Chris not far behind. Will and David left the 2 Sheppey boys to continue their battle for 4th place which Will managed to secure.

Race 5 - The Ebb tide was away and the wind was at 13-15kts. The aggression on the start line was electric, resulting in a General Recall. The PRO reset and started the sequence, and with just seconds to go to the 4 minute gun, another Carsington traveller, Theo Holmes, suffered a tiller snappage whilst he was checking out the line and promptly smashed into the committee boat. The PRO generously abandoned the sequence again. The race finally got off while the ebb tide now racing out meant the fleet was fairly bunched rounding the windward mark. Will, thinking the manoeuvre was on, thought he could barge his way in at the mark, only to be protested by several other boats. He gracefully sailed with tail between his legs to do his turns. The reach to the wing was fantastic as the wind continued to build to around 16kts. There was carnage at the gybe mark. People finding it difficult to round cleanly as the fleet arrived with a crescendo of noise from competitors. It did, however, allow the lead boats to pull clear and the race was all but over, being lead, unsurprisingly by Charlie.

Race 6 - The wind had dropped to the surprise of many, which clearly caught them out on the start. Lee, not paying much attention at the pin end was half way to the Netherlands when the gun finally went and was individually recalled. As the author of this article, I didn't see much from the back. As you have now guessed, the race was won, and the series taken with all 6 bullets.

The quality of sailing from many of the class' newer members was impressive. Local lad Alex Perriman, who'd missed Day 1, was on form in his Mk1, and Phil Cope & Brian Culver, both of nearby Wilsonians also stretching the Mk1' Blazes legs. Sheppey's Richard Proctor took the highest placed Polyester Boat title and sailed throughout the regatta with his head held high.

The Blaze Class Association and IOSSC want to thank all the volunteers that made this weekend so enjoyable. The quality of racing was superb across the fleet and in all marks of boat. The hospitality of IOSSC is second to none - the small club with a big heart. Well worth the visit if you have never been.

Overall Results:

PosHelmSail NoBoat NameClubR1  R2  R3  R4  R5  R6  Pts
1stCharlie Matthews852EkajatiRCYC‑1111115
2ndRussell Wheeler751Top on, top offIOSSC22‑422210
3rdDouglas Clow777 IBRSC33233‑414
4thWilliam Gould869 Carsington sc44‑645320
5thLee Marriott860 IOSSC55366‑725
6thChris Goymer598 IOSSC‑86887635
7thDavid Shafto864 Burghfield SC6(RET)RET54536
8thAndy Wilson811LeviathanIBRSC‑97778837
9thRichard Proctor535Red RoosterIOSSC‑1111101091151
10thBrian Culver614 Wilsonians101091111‑1251
11thPhil Cope587 Wilsonian Sailing Club‑128111212952
12thNeil smith830 Chase sc795(DNC)DNCDNC53
13thAlex Perriman584 IOSSC(DNC)DNCDNC9101061
14thTheo Holmes606Blaze of GloryCarsington Sailing Club13121213(DNC)DNC66
15thChas Bedford725Burnt OutIOSSC14131314(RET)DNC70

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