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Noble Marine 2022 YY - LEADERBOARD
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Noble Marine Streaker National Championships at Stone Sailing Club - Preview

by Neil Firth 8 Jul 14:31 BST 12-14 July 2024
Tom Gillard, a contender for Streaker National Champion © Paul Williamson

The 2024 Noble Marine Streaker National Championships will be held at Stone Sailing Club on the Blackwater Estuary from 12 to 14 July. An impressive 65 boats have already entered what is sure to be a hotly contested championship across all three fleets; gold, silver and bronze.

Followers of the class will be pleased to hear that defending champion Martin Penty (Beaver SC) and his arch-rival Tom Gillard (Sheffield Viking/Staunton Harold) will both be on the start line this year.

Tom and Martin have competed against each other at three of the last four Nationals, with Martin currently leading this head-to-head battle two-one. Can Tom level the score and, at the same time, take a record-equalling tenth Streaker Nationals win, or will Martin come out on top for his fourth win?

Of course, there'll be plenty of others hoping to spoil the Tom & Martin Show! Steve Blackburn (WLYC/Leigh & Lowton SC) has been on the podium at three of the last four Nationals, including twice as runner-up, so he certainly knows how to put together a good series. He'd love to go one better at Stone 2024.

Others capable of a podium finish include Peter Gray (Staunton Harold SC) who came a close second to Martin at the recent Streaker Northern Championships, despite spending relatively little time sailing Streakers. Then there's Steve Hanby who continues to defy his 'veteran' age category, regularly racing competitively against Martin at Beaver SC and on the open circuit.

Our review wouldn't be complete without a mention of Streaker legend and ten times National Champion, Alan Gillard (Sheffield Viking SC), who was third at Grafham last year, proving that he's also still got it!

With such a large entry, it's no surprise that there will be several clubs in contention for the 'Altogether Shield' - the trophy awarded to the club with the three best-placed sailors overall. The Streaker Nationals is, of course, an individual championship (no team racing please!) but that still leaves the opportunity for some healthy rivalry in the pre and post-race banter, as each club sizes up their opponents and cheers on their team-mates!

So here's our look at this year's leading contenders for the Altogether Shield...

We begin with Beaver Sailing Club, last year's winners and home to two of the aforementioned front-runners, Martin Penty and Steve Hanby. Beaver is the Northern Powerhouse of the Streaker fleet, with regular double-digit turnouts for local club racing. Six of their eight sailors this year are in the gold fleet. That strength in depth will make them tough to beat, with any one of Richard Hanby, Giles Therkelsen-Smith, Dave Borrett or Jon Aldhous capable of a top ten finish to help secure the Altogether Shield for Team Beaver.

Staunton Harold Sailing Club may lack the quantity of top sailors that Beaver are bringing to the party, but they certainly have the quality to mount a serious challenge. Their ace card is, of course, Tom Gillard. With Peter Gray and Tom both potentially on the podium, there's a good chance that super-crew Rachael Gray or Nigel Pepperdine will be able to complete a winning three-boat score for Team Staunton.

It would be fair to expect the Altogether Shield to be won by either Beaver or Staunton. However, third place is wide open between several other well-known Streaker clubs. All of them have five or six sailors at the event, including a gold fleet contender or two to anchor the team score. Veronica Falat and Adam Yorkston will lead the charge for Team WOBYC (Waveney & Oulton Broad YC), Dave Adams for Team Broadstairs, Simon Cory for Team Downs, Ian Bradley for Team OASC (Ouse Amateur SC) and Ian Gore for Team Up River.

All of these teams epitomise the revival in grass-roots Streaker sailing and they will come to Stone to share their enthusiasm for the Streaker and their home clubs. If you're coming to Stone 2024 be careful; their enthusiasm is obviously contagious!

If you've just realised you're missing out, it's not too late to enter: www.streaker-class.org.uk/2024-nationals. And, if you can't make it, watch this space and we'll bring you news of the drama as it unfolds.

The Streaker Nationals is generously sponsored by Noble Marine, Hartley Boats, Allen Brothers and Fernhurst Books.

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