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Henri-Lloyd - For the Obsessed

Unicorn National Championships at Stone Sailing Club

by Julius Mach 8 Aug 2012 12:54 PDT 29 July - 3 August 2012

Despite clashing with the Olympics which resulted in some sailors being otherwise distracted an increased number of entries were received for the championships including several newcomers to the class. The event started on Sunday evening with a Reception hosted by the commodore where although the chocolate fountain, present on previous occasions, was missed the free flowing wine and ample snacks including salmon sandwiches more than made up for it.

On the Monday the racing started with the first race being held in the morning in light winds. At first the port hand starters did better but there was plenty of opportunity for much place changing. Gary Piper won the race The second race was held in the afternoon in testing conditions with the winds varying between force 5 and 6. The race course was shared with various handicap fleets and eventually only the Unicorns managed to finish a race despite numerous capsizes. Gary Piper again led the fleet home. In the evening the fleet enjoyed a barn dance whilst sampling the variety of beers, lagers and ciders.

By Tuesday the winds had abated again and in force 2 to 3 conditions with strong tides Gary Piper again showed his superiority by winning both races coming from behind in both races. Peter Toft, Iain Rogers both held the lead for a while with Owen Cox and Richard Taylor also getting involved but none could stay in front of Gary Piper to the end. Behind these Julius Mach and his son Harry Mach were establishing themselves at the front of the rest of the fleet. In the evening there was the serious business of trying to win on the horses at the race night whilst continuing with the sampling of alcoholic beverages. The pig race was the most popular although the Afghan Hound race was also well received.

Wednesday was the team games night but first there were two races to be sailed. The first race in a solid force 4 was well contested with six boats establishing themselves at the front of the pack. Gary Piper was finally outwitted by Owen Cox, recently converted to Unicorns, and Owen gained his first championship win. However in the second race normal service was resumed as the wind dropped under a rain shower and did not pick up again. Gary Piper led the way, with Owen Cox second and Richard Taylor third. The team games were as usual hilarious and ended with the traditional egg roulette.

Thursday came with winds that had returned and made themselves felt rarely dropping below 20 knots. One race was held and the by then exhausted competitors felt that one race was quite enough. Gary Piper and Owen Cox put their body masses to good use and revelled in the conditions and finished first and second. The conditions proved rather too much for Arthur Brooks, the lightweight in the fleet sailing a 40 year old boat. He was however, the only one not to finish and hopefully will soon be back on the water in a repaired or newer boat. That evening was the big band evening. The older members of the fleet who largely still had hearing protected themselves by either keeping the clubhouse between themselves and the band or employing cotton wool in their ears. The younger members engaged fully with the band and the dancing continued late into the night.

Friday saw winds of force 4-5 again but by now everyone was used to these. Gary Piper again led the fleet home despite letting a lead slip in the early part of the race by sailing towards the wrong mark. The day was finished off by a sit down meal and prizegiving with all competitors receiving a memento.

Congratulations to Gary Piper (Weston SC) the 2012 UK National Champion, winning 7 out of 8 races. His self built tortured plywood constructed boat, with Caws sail number 1100, was once again sailed expertly in all types of wind conditions. Owen Cox (Weston SC) sailing 1088 was second, also sailing a Piper built boat, proved that his Catamaran sailing skills from 20 years ago are still very competitive. Richard Taylor (Stone SC) sailing 1098 was third, also sailing a Piper boat. Peter Toft (Stone SC) was 4th, Julius Mach (Weston SC) was fifth and Iain Rogers (Weston SC) was 6th.

John Moore sailing 1084 in his first championships was competitive but suffered some gear failures and a capsize which affected his final position. Arthur Brooks sailing 186 an original self build wooden boat from the early 1970's with proctor mast experienced some interesting moments with capsizes and failures of the hulls and trampoline. His enthusiasm is great and with a younger boat will be a good competitor in a couple of years.

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