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Noble Marine Lightning 368 National Championship at Chase Sailing Club

by Robbie Claridge & John Butler 5 Oct 05:49 PDT 24-25 September 2022

23 Lightnings competed at The Chase SC over the weekend of the 24th & 25th September on the Chasewater reservoir, for the Noble Marine Insurance 2022 Lightning 368 UK National Championship, in an event shared out on the water with the Solo class.

In predominantly light winds, with occasional gusts that got the boats up on the plane, it was those lighter helms who held a distinct advantage.

This centrally located but large inland water venue, not far from Birmingham, tempted a number of first-time participants to travel considerable distances to take part, mainly in older Mk1 boats, and some of them were hardly novices, but competitive sailors from other classes, which made for some interesting duels in the top half of the fleet.

Four races were scheduled for the Saturday, two before and two after a lunch break.

Race 1:

The returning Robbie Claridge, after a year out due to hip surgery, soon showed his pedigree as a previous multiple National Lightning 368 Champion, but arrived late and just in time to be in the vicinity of the committee boat end of the short start line when the gun went.

Robbie was immediately luffed over the line by local Chris Anderson and had to re-round the committee boat, before tacking off with Jeremy Cooper to the right side of the course in order to gain clear wind.

A nice long beat with continual shifts meant there were several leaders up the first leg, but Simon Hopkins played the course best and rounded ahead of Robbie.

Robbie then took Simon on the next downwind leg, and Simon eventually got drawn back into the chasing pack, dropping to 8th by the finish.

Light wind supremo, Penny Yarwood, worked up from mid-fleet into second, but had a nail-biting finish as the wind completely died at the end of the race, and she had to hold off a late challenge from Jeremy Cooper and Tony Jacks in the flukey conditions.

Racing was then postponed until the afternoon, and the fleet retuned to the shore for any early lunch as well as a wait for the wind to fill in.

Race 2:

The earlier starting Solos sailed a one tack beat to the windward mark, which indicated to the second starting Lightning fleet that the line was heavily port end biased.

A last minute windshift just before the start meant that Robbie, who started at the starboard end, came out best and led the race to the finish without being headed.

Tony played the percentages well to finish second, ahead of Caroline Hollier and the chasing Penny, and Simon had a better race to claim 5th.

Race 3:

After a clean start, the race to the windward mark was won by Robbie, closely followed by Penny.

The earlier starting Solos caused confusion on the second beat by initially rounding the windward mark to port, then realising it needed to be to starboard.

This led to a raft of Solos reaching into the mark on starboard, who were in turn preventing those who had rounded the mark from bearing away on port.

All the shouting and waving caused much confusion for the fast approaching Robbie and Penny who couldn't understand what they were doing!

Robbie, Penny, Caroline and eventually Tony continued to sail well into the Solo fleet, in which some were keen to put on a cover on the Lightnings to prevent being overtaken!

Robbie and Penny finished in that order, with Tony passing Caroline for 3rd after challenging hard, with Simon & Jason Gallagher having a better race, in which Simon pulled through to fifth.

Race 4:

Robbie was luffed by Penny at the start, and in attempting to tack onto port and round the committee boat, got caught by Chris (again) who hardened up on starboard and had to take avoiding action.

Robbie then had to do his penalty turns, and start from the back of the fleet. He again headed hard right for clear air, along with Ian Ranson.

Meanwhile Penny & Caroline had an early contretemps, requiring Caroline to do penalty turns.

Andy McIvor and John Claridge played the shifts best and rounded the mark first and second. Robbie rounded the first mark mid-fleet, before going right again on the second beat to squeeze ahead of John, but was still behind Penny and Andy at this stage.

Andy sailed brilliantly to keep Penny and Robbie at bay and led for another 4 legs, but when in second place Penny chose to sail one way up the beat, along with Andy, and Robbie chose the other side, and got a last minute lift to catch Andy on port before the windward mark.

Andy unfortunately then thought the race was finished on the following reach, sailing straight through the line.

This wasn't the case, and Penny rounded the leeward mark to take second where she finished, with Andy settling for 3rd.

Further back, whilst contesting 4th place, Jason Gallagher & junior Harry Yarwood were involved in an interesting incident, with Jason doing a windward death roll and colliding with Harry. Jason retired, but it put paid to Harry's best race in the process, causing him to drop to 11th. Caroline and John took advantage, and eventually finished 4th & 5th respectively.

After a long day out on the water, the competitors returned to base for the Class AGM, an excellent curry meal, and full blown live entertainment, with most joining in the energetic dancing after some initial reluctance.

The final two races were held on the Sunday morning, with a few suffering from hangovers from the night before!

Race 5:

Robbie eyed up a port end flier, but realising Simon and Penny were making their way across on starboard, opted to sail up to, and start underneath Simon.

Robbie rounded first, but Penny powered through his lee on the first reach. Penny led until the final run, when a last minute puff gave Robbie an inside overlap at the mark, having otherwise tracked Penny downwind without much success. Further back, Caroline & Tony were engaged in their own private battle for 3rd, whilst the boys from Essex, Andy & Simon, duelled for the 5th & 6th places.

Race 6:

Robbie tried a port end flier, but was caught out by Simon (again) and had to duck half the fleet in search of a lane of clean air.

Chris had the best beat, coming in from the right side of the course to lead round the first mark ahead of Penny, Robbie and Caroline.

He successfully defended the next 3 legs, before Robbie and Penny caught him on the following upwind beat, having split tacks as they'd done to Andy the previous day.

Caroline then passed Chris for third, and John fought back to fourth, with Graham Lazell having his best result of the weekend in fifth, whilst Chris faded to 7th behind Jeremy.

This was the best attended Lightning Nationals in many a year, and friendly competition existed right down the fleet. Special mention must go to Allison Hopkins in her second ever outing in a Lightning. She only started sailing in the spring, and completed her RYA Dinghy Level 2 course in the late summer. She finished a creditable 21st overall, and got a loud cheer every time she finished a race.

With six straight wins, it was Robbie Claridge who dominated the Championship, but the overall result belied just how competitive it was at the front for most of the time.

A huge thank you must go to the Chase SC Race and Safety Boat teams out on the water, and the club committee, bar and galley volunteers for making it a superb experience onshore for all the Lightning sailors.

Overall Results:
If you finished in the top ten at the Lightning 368 nationals then enter your Gear Guide information here

Ladies Champion: Penny Yarwood
Masters Champion: Caroline Hollier
Veterans Champion: Tony Jacks
Junior Champion: Harry Yarwood
"Spirit of the Class" Award: Ian Ranson
Endeavour Award (first Championship): Allison Hopkins

PosFleetSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1stGOLD427Robbie ClaridgeRoyal Lymington YC‑1111115
2ndGOLD425Penny YarwoodUp River YC2‑4222210
3rdGOLD438Caroline HollierWest Oxfordshire SC‑53443317
4thSILVER444Tony JacksBartley SC42384‑1321
5thSILVER207Andy McivorBlackwater SC66‑835828
6thGOLD428Simon HopkinsUp River YC855‑96933
7thGOLD447John ClaridgeRoyal Lymington YC‑107959434
8thGOLD410Jeremy CooperShotwick SC3‑157714637
9thSILVER175Chris AndersonChase SC‑13811613745
10thGOLD417Jason GallagherDenholme SC11146(DNF)101051
11thSILVER429Ralf DrewWeston SC99‑1610111251
12thSILVER435Ben TwistBroadstairs SC161010128‑2056
13thSILVER434Duncan CheshireWindsford Flash SC71314‑1671657
14thSILVER441Ian RansonBolton SC121112‑13121158
15thSILVER430Graham LazellUp River YC14161318‑19566
16thSILVER407Bryan WestleyChase SC‑19121714151472
17thSILVER433John ButlerSutton in Ashfield SC151715‑19181883
18thSILVER233Harry YarwoodUp River YC‑20191911161984
19thSILVER402Stephen HodgesonDenholme SC1718‑2017171584
20thSILVER120Iggy SmithElton SC18‑201815201788
21stSILVER145Alison HopkinsChase SC‑232223212121108
22ndSILVER95Richard StrattonWest Kirby SC21232120(DNC)DNC109
23rdSILVER439Judith StrattonWest Kirby SC222122(DNF)DNCDNC113

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