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Wightlink Europe Nationals at Brading Haven Yacht Club

by Andy Harris 29 Sep 2010 01:10 PDT 25-26 September 2010
Gareth Williams (L) and Chris Gill (R) split tacks after the leeward mark during the Wightlink Europe nationals © Alex Glowacka

The Wightlink Europe National Championship was held at Brading Haven YC over the weekend of 25th and 26th September. The turnout of fifteen boats was slightly lower than in recent years due to the absence of Belgian competitors who were unable to attend due to a clash with the German championship.

A training day was held on the preceding Friday with coaching from former Laser Radial world champion Ben Paton. After a classroom session the more intrepid took to the water outside Bembridge harbour in a strong onshore breeze which reached 30 knots at times. In the testing conditions the fleet learned as much about boat handling as race tactics.

Saturday dawned cold and breezy but by midday conditions had moderated to an onshore force 4 accompanied by a short chop. RO Barry Dyer set a large trapezoid course with an inner sausage and a reaching finish.

Al Green won the favoured pin end of the line in race 1 and battled up the first beat with the Scottish national champion Gareth Williams and reigning class champion Chris Gill. Al went left to the inshore side of the beat but Chris and Gareth went right to round the windward mark behind him. Al was able to gain an overlap on Gareth at the windward mark but he could not hold off Gareth’s challenge on the final run. In front of them Chris led to the finish.

Race 2 followed a similar pattern although Chris was slowed up when a very large gust localised gust flattened him on the first beat. He recovered to win the race from Gareth and Al.

The third race was again won by Chris with Al and Gareth following. Behind the leading three there was close competition throughout the fleet. Graham McCubbin of Loch Earn SC ended the day with three fourth places. Graham and fellow club sailor Paul Seamark had made the long journey south to represent the resurgent Scottish Europe fleet. Local sailor Giles Easter flew the flag for Brading Haven in 5th.

Overnight the wind strength ratcheted up a notch and it did not drop below 20 knots for the rest of Sunday. Al and Gareth found conditions to their liking and fought with Chris upwind and downwind during race 4. Al held the advantage on the final run but capsized on a gybe. Gareth passed by to take the gun and Al could not recover in time to hold off Chris.

The top three had it their own way again in race 5 but this time it was Al ahead at the finish. In the final race Chris led from start to finish. There was drama behind as Al and Gareth rounded the final windward mark together and split gybes. Gareth ran aggressively by the lee to open up a small lead but unlike Al he still needed to gybe at the leeward mark. Gareth’s boom clipped a wave and he broached allowing Al through to take second.

After a dominant weekend of sailing Chris Gill became the UK national champion for the seventh time, equalling the record of Steve Cockerill. Al Green and Gareth Williams finished with equal points and an equal number of 1st, 2nd and 3rd places. Gareth’s broach proved costly as Al had the deciding higher placing in the last race to take second overall. Behind them Graham McCubbin had another solid day to take 4th overall as well as the Roaring Forties veterans’ trophy. Defending women’s champion Katie Mapplebeck retained her title.

Ellen Clancy was the worthy winner of the youth prize after a fraught weekend. Her mast step failed before the first race, severely damaging her boat. An old hull was resurrected from the dinghy park and other competitors helped fit it out with Ellen’s rig on Saturday evening, allowing her to complete all three of Sunday’s races in fine style.

The class would like to thank Wightlink for their generous support as well as all at Brading Haven YC for their excellent race management and warm hospitality.

Overall Results:

PosHelmSail NoR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1stChris Gill352111-2216
2ndAlasdair Green381 (38)-33231211
3rdGareth Williams39122-313311
4thGraham McCubbin3704445-7623
5thGiles Easter38756544-824
6thFergal Finlay387 (UJ)67-976531
7thRichard Eagleton3309-11865432
8thPaul Seamark315-108688737
9thMike Wallis252-119109101048
10thKatie Mapplebeck385810111011(DNF)50
11thAndy Harris69757(DNS)DNSDNS51
12thEllen Clancy323(DNS)DNSDNS119961
13thChris Wilkinson377131212(DNS)DNSDNS69
14thBrett Hill39312(DNF)DNSDNSDNSDNS76
15thAngela Wallis223(DNS)DNSDNSDNSDNSDNS80

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