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Albacore Inland Championship at Bartley Sailing Club

by Tim Coleman 12 May 02:56 PDT 30 April - 1 May 2023
2023 Albacore Inlands at Bartley © Debbie Degge

Sixteen boats entered the Inland Championship. Not as many as hoped for but perhaps the combination of the forecast of light winds, the bank holiday weekend and the build up to the Coronation of the King, caused a significant number of potential entrants to give it a miss. I think it is fair to say that they missed a treat!

The winds were far stronger than expected and although the wind on Sunday was in the NW (apparently the worst direction at Bartley) we had six races of close, competitive fleet racing. The wind did not follow the Race officer Howard Eeles and his team's instructions and chose to do it's own thing, often just before a race start, resulting in some very testing starts, at least two general recalls and one race being halted within the first minute when a major shift in the last 30 seconds to the start caused a rafting of boats trying to cross the line! Hats off to Howard for quick thinking! And then setting good courses, flexible enough to give good beats and tactical off wind legs.

The first day of racing began with two races in a south-westerly, light to moderate wind. Variation in wind strength and direction across the sailing area meant it was easy to make great losses or gains several times in one beat! Crews needed to have their wits about them so spot the shifts and gusts if they were to climb more ladders and miss the snakes. Two more races in the afternoon saw the wind increase in strength but the variations continued to test the abilities of the crews. However, the true magicians seemed to find their way to the front of the fleet and the results show the consistency of the top three boats. Matt Higgs and Mark Fowler made good use of their local knowledge and obvious skill to win 4 of the races.

Judy and Paul Armstrong, past champions, showed consistent performance with five 2nd places. Mike Hartley and Mark Hinton, always in the mix at the front secured one first place. The surprise race winner was Matt Thompson and daughter Heather who managed to take an early lead in the 4th race and fought off the magicians to secure a win. This result indicates the depth of talent in the fleet. If the competition at the front of the fleet was close, the mid fleet competition was even hotter with only 4 points separating 4th to 9th place, with some top finishing positions among them, Matt Thompson's being one of them. The current national and international champion, Nev Herbert, crewed by Lewis Fowler, occasionally showed his form with some good results, but struggled to find his form, perhaps still working out the wrinkles in his Kingsfield's performance. The competition through the latter part of the fleet was close too, but with a wider spread of points.

In such close and competitive racing infringements are bound to happen and some rule infringements did occur, requiring some 'on water' arbitration with the occasional bit of Anglo-Saxon terminology being expressed. The fact that there were no protests meant that generally penalty turns were taken when required, which is the way it should be.

From my own experience of the event this was perhaps the most competitive, close quarter fleet racing I have experienced in a while. It was fun, frustrating at times and full of learning opportunities!

A special mention must be given to the true heroes of the event who finished in last place. Chris Oates and Dan Boddice (Bartley SC) are new to sailing having completed their basic sailing training (RYA 1&2) 18 months ago. These two were on a step learning curve and rightfully deserved the Endeavour award.

Bartley Sailing club did an excellent job of hosting the Albacore inland championships and a special mention to Mark Reddington who was tireless in his dedication to making the event a success. Well done Mark and thank you.

Overall Results:

PosHelmCrewSail NoClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1stMatt BIGGSMark FOWLER8192Bartley SC111‑3216
2ndJudy ARMSTRONGPaul ARMSTRONG8228Scaling Dam SC2222‑3210
3rdMike HARTLEYMark the one and only8187West Kirby SC333‑41414
4thTim COLEMANEmma METCALF SMITH8254Leigh and Lowton SC459‑106630
5thNeville HERBERTLewis FOWLER7145Lymington Town SC(DNC)41158331
6thMark REDDINGTONColin ANDERSON7426Bartley SC767‑94731
7thPhil SMITHSteve CARR8152West Kirby SC87585‑1433
8thMatt THOMPSONHeather THOMPSON8255Tewksbury SC61161‑141034
9thJeremy SHINTONHarry ASHWORTH8158Bartley SC5‑10879534
10thMatthew METCALF‑SMITHJason UPTON8237Ogston SC‑1094610837
11thMike BANNERBill COPTHORNE8233RYA9810‑14111149
12thMartin SMITHKaren BESTON8253RYA12‑14141113959
13thAndrew YEATESEd YEATES8186Olton Mere SC11‑15151571361
14thSteve BAILEYJeremy WALLACE6504The Nottingham SC‑14121313121262
15thPhil SHEPPARDKirsten SHEPPARD8189Nottingham SC13131212‑151565
16thChris OATESDan BODDICE7992Bartley SC15(DNF)1616161679

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