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Noble Marine RS Vareo National Championships 2024 at Paignton Sailing Club

by Nick Crickmore & Paul North 15 May 13:26 BST 10-12 May 2024
Noble Marine RS Vareo Nationals at Paignton Sailing Club © Katerina Janacek

As we travelled down to Devon's English Riviera the weekend forecast was for warm sunshine and light winds for all three days.

The Noble Marine RS Vareo Nationals were running alongside the annual Paignton Open for Single Handers (POSH) with the Friday added in to give us nine races for our event.

Unfortunately, injuries and scheduling conflicts restricted this year's entry to just eight boats, but as we gathered on Thursday evening it was great to have the fleet regulars together looking forward to a sunny weekend's racing. Little did we know that the racing would be so close that five different sailors would take a race win!

We were also delighted to be joined by Martin Janacek who had flown in from the Czech Republic to sail a boat kindly lent by Nick Crickmore.

At Friday's briefing, PRO Nick Ripley who had been studying the forecast intently discussed the options for an extra race on Friday and/or Saturday as Sunday's forecast was the lightest of all.

Day One:

Launching from the red sands of Paignton beach we headed out very sedately to a standard windward leeward course about ¾ mile offshore.

In race one, after a quick 3-2-1 start, our regular champion Luke Fisher started with his usual determination in a close race keeping both Nigel Tinkler and Chris Abbot under control right up until he turned up the right hand gate for lap three of a two lap race so Nigel won the sprint to the finish - it has happened to us all before!

That first race was to be the best wind all day. After a lap and a half of race two we were finished at the windward mark by the safety crew while the Race Officer motored half a mile South trying to find a little more wind. Chris was finding good form in the light winds taking the win from Luke with Nick Crickmore third.

With a newly laid course, race three turned out to be a near re-run of two with the wind dying after a lap so we were very glad to be finished again at the windward mark, Chris getting there ahead of Luke again, this time with Nigel in third.

The "battle" (make that drift) for 6th was closely fought by Paul North and last year's national champion Michelle Collier-Brooks, who readily admitted she's not a fan of light winds. Paul took 6th in races one and two then had his best result of 4th in race three. At the tail end, Mike Dicker was struggling to find any speed, but valiantly completed every race.

It would have been a long float home but thankfully we were given a tow from the rescue teams to get us back to the bar in good time to celebrate Chris' overnight lead.

Day Two:

On Saturday we were joined by the POSH fleet of 57 boats ranging from K1 keel boats to Lasers, Aeros, Blazes and various other single-handers. We had our own start four minutes ahead of the POSH fleets and thankfully our own course apart from the first beat so there was only a little bit of traffic on the first downwind leg.

In race four, with a much shorter start line than the previous day, there was a bit of bumping around, but we got away cleanly enough in a reasonable breeze. Although the wind was only a little stronger than Friday there was a much more significant swell to add to the fun for the pond sailors, particularly Martin, who living in a landlocked country, had never sailed on the sea before.

Once again Chris took the win from Nigel, and it was starting to look like there was to be a lightweight benefit for the day. However, in race five, Martin our guest from Czech Republic, the youngest and heaviest sailor, found his groove and a feel for his borrowed boat (helps to put the bung in before launching) to take the win, closely followed by Michelle then Nick.

For race six the wind finally kicked in (OK, maybe it was 8 gusting 9) and Luke showed us he was still a force to be reckoned with disappearing up the first beat like a rat up a pipe and leading from start to finish. Martin still enjoying his form took 2nd with Chris nabbing an important 3rd. Michelle suffered a stuck spinnaker pole on the final run allowing Paul to just catch her and she retired to fight another day.

As promised, although the wind was beginning to dwindle, the Race Office elected to run an extra race and so in race seven, off-wind specialist Nick raised the whomper to pass the leaders downwind when it counted, leaving Nigel in 2nd and Chris with another 3rd. With Michelle not racing, Mike was disappointed to break a clean run of 8th's:-) So at end of day two Chris retained his lead by a small margin over consistent bridesmaid Luke. After a long float home we were treated to a superb curry night at the club and a beer or two while discussing the maths of who needed to do what in the final two races.

Day Three:

With the tide right in as launch time approached, and the radio call from the Committee Boat that there was 5 knots across the course, we were helped one at a time by four brilliant volunteers into our boats and away from the wall that the waves were crashing onto! With the need to get over 60 boats onto the water in this way there was a short delay before racing could begin. By this time a steady breeze had built and we were actually hiking up the first beat of race eight!

Luke had a close race with Michelle and Nick just taking the lead on the last gybe to win. Chris had his worst result coming 7th but this was ultimately a discard so he just had to stay ahead of Luke in the last race to become champion.

In race nine, Nick insisted on trying for the port flyer one last time on what had been a snug and square line all weekend and of course failed but collected the wind from every transom to fly off to the right-hand side never to be caught. He crossed the line some time before 2nd place Martin who passed everyone else on the last run with a final gybe at the perfect time, with Michelle taking 3rd.

In a close nip and tuck chase behind, Chris used all his river skills to hold off Luke to take 4th and become our worthy champion, just a single point ahead of Luke, and indeed only seven points ahead of Nigel in 5th.

With the racing over the wind abruptly disappeared proving the wisdom of Saturday's extra race! Our thanks to the whole team at Paignton Sailing Club for providing such a well-run event and making us feel very welcome. Also, as ever, big thanks to our sponsors, Noble Marine and Rooster.

Overall placings and prizes

1st and National Champion: Chris Abbott, Nottingham SC
2nd and Master: Luke Fisher, Emberton Park SC
3rd and Grand Master: Nick Crickmore, Waveney and Alton Broad YC
4th and Novice trophy: Martin Janacek, Brno, CZE
5th and Fidelis trophy: Nigel Tinkler, Llandegfedd SC
6th and Apprentice award: Michelle Collier-Brookes, Oxford SC
7th Paul North, Milton Keynes SC
8th and Endeavour trophy: Mike Dicker, Army Sailing Association

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8R9Pts
1st649Chris AbbottNottingham SC31114337427
2nd621Luke FisherEmberton Park SC22255141527
3rd162Nick CrickmoreWaveney & Oulton Broad53563413131
4th528Martin Janacek045731256235
5th190Nigel TinklerLlandegfedd SC14327724737
6th444Michelle Collier-BrooksOxford7764269 (DNC)2346
7th443Paul NorthMilton Keynes SC66476565651
8th346Mike DickerArmy Sailing Association TISC88888878871

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