Report by Ben Falat
When witnessing a masterclass in championship fleet sailing one can either simply ‘Wow !’ or look for those very few fleeting moments which might be criticised; Nick Craig discarded a ‘first’ in the three-day, seven-race series run at Gorleston this last weekend.
Poetry in motion during Race-7 with the championship already secured, he found it quite unnecessary to cover the fleet downwind, went his own way in search of a massive gust and trebled his already substantial lead during a single leg of this race. During race-4 he crossed the start-line a surprising 8-seconds late â€¦. but this was against a considerable tidal current and he was nevertheless first boat across this start. Nothing else to report here apart from cracking power-gybes to most other sailors’ survival techniques, conservative but consistent starting, upwind sailing in what looked like a comfortable and relaxed style, while second-place onwards all strained legs, backs and torsos in general, trying to winkle any additional performance from their craft. Interesting though that Craig seemed to carry more mast-bend than most, hence probably holding up greater leech tension, and the mainsail just evidencing some starvation creases from clew to half-height on the luff.
Friday’s sailing was delayed by some 2-hours waiting for any wind to develop. Saturday’s sailing was delayed by some 3-hours waiting for over-strong wind to reduce; indeed the Committee Boat having gone out early to monitor conditions experienced such turbulent sea conditions that it could not find any holding ground consistent enough for the anchor to bite and stay in. Sunday turned into an interesting medium, both extremely shifty and varying in strength.
Race-1 was sailed to a light NE wind which backed too much during the second round and was therefore shortened. Race-2 was sailed in that now stable northerly for a full three rounds; local man Chris Sallis revelled and offered an early challenge to the lead. Having already experienced postponement, the afternoon’s racing was curtailed. Saturday evening ended with a hotel dinner then retiring to much ‘free’ ale at the clubhouse next door.
Once Saturday’s early gale had subsided there was not enough time to catch up Friday’s lost race. The problem here was a legacy of massive swell breaking onto the beach making for extremely hard work for the beach party who launched each boat in turn, wading when in control and swimming when caught out; once out beyond the surf-boarders most boats managed well; races 3 & 4 proved fair into a northerly, but during the start of race-5 a large veer to NE was experienced; with only seconds to go, the start was postponed, course re-laid and a second attempt worked, though in latter stages of the race there was a sudden further veer to E, considerable drop in pressure (local wind farm appeared simply to switch off !) and the Committee Boat charged across the course to shorten, failing to get there in time and the last leg eventually became a long slow and stressful haul over an increasing tide. Humphrey Carter from Gurnard and Giles Chipperfield had by now stamped a clear desire for 2nd place overall. Despite the wind abating to merest zephyr from south, requiring some boats to be towed toward the shore, the breakers were still there and the recovery-team had a particularly tough time; one sailor ended up in hospital being checked for concussion but gladly was released later that same evening. The day ended with in-house cooked Paella, prepared over an enormous 4ft pan in the clubhouse by local sailor Martin Browne; more ‘free’ beer and a generally happy evening.
Sunday’ racing was possibly the most interesting with some huge shifts and variations of strength. While some wallowed in lulls to one side, others were at full stretch elsewhere; some ladders and many snakes !
Congratulations to the home club for obvious huge effort put into a fantastic event with some sailors reporting afterwards being soooo pumped-up(!) with some of the most exciting sailing ever experienced; especial mention of two Class newcomers James Nield (Windermere) and Howard Farbrother (Queen Mary) who both proved themselves front-runners on several occasions.. Huge thanks to Sponsors Noble Marine Insurance. Most of all, well-done to the 20-competitors who came from as far apart as Windermere, South Shields, Shoreham and Isle of Wight.