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Noble Marine Streaker National Championship at Grafham Water Sailing Club - Preview

by Neil Firth 4 Jul 2023 02:46 PDT 7-9 July 2023
Martin Penty hot favourite for the Noble Marine Streaker National Championships © Paul Williamson

The Streaker Class will be putting on a show at Grafham Water this weekend, when over 50 boats assemble for the Noble Marine Streaker National Championships. It is set to be their biggest turnout since 2014 and their second biggest in the last 15 years.

The event is co-sponsored by Hartley Boats who are now an established Streaker builder alongside long-time favourite Butler Boats. The championship will feature boats from both Hartley and Butler, as well as former builders Boatyard at Beer and Rooster, all competing on level terms across the three fleets; bronze, silver and gold. There'll also be the odd home-built boat in the mix!

At the front of the fleet, the smart money will probably be on reigning champion Martin Penty (Beaver SC). Martin has managed to get the better of renowned champion, Tom Gillard, at two of the past three Nationals. With Tom away at Salcombe Merlin Week this year, Martin certainly looks like the one to beat. Can he achieve Streaker Legend status by taking his third national title?

Amongst those that will fancy giving Martin a run for his money are Steve Blackburn (WLYC/Leigh & Lowton SC) and Tom Goodey (RNSA). Steve was runner up to Martin in 2018 but hasn't featured on the podium since; he will have a point to prove! Tom Goodey, on the other hand, is off most people's radar, as he rarely sails a Streaker. At South Shields last year he stepped into a Streaker for the first time and pulled off a credible fifth overall. Tom's obviously an over-achiever with form in other classes, so we expect him to be in the mix.

Talking of Streaker Legends, don't write off ten times National Champion Alan Gillard who will be sailing his brand new ship, which would normally have been on loan to his son, Tom. The all-time-legends league table currently has Alan one championship ahead of Tom. Could he take this opportunity to put another one on the board and widen the gap, while Tom's not looking?

The resurgence of the Streaker is exemplified by the fantastic home fleet at Beaver Sailing Club, in Yorkshire. With regular double-figure turnouts for club racing, they'll be represented by at least 13 boats at Grafham this year. Some are regulars on the Streaker circuit, but others are new to the scene and they have all been sharpening their racecraft against current National Champion, Martin. We wouldn't be surprised to see several Beaver boats in the top ten, not least Martin's top RS400 helm, Ollie Groves. It's safe to say that Beaver is probably a dead cert for the Altogether Shield, awarded to the club with the best three boats overall; it's definitely theirs to lose!

The Streaker Nationals isn't just about the hot shots. This well-mannered and responsive single-hander lends itself to sailors wanting to experience Nationals sailing for the first time - and where better than at Grafham Water Sailing Club. A significant number of entries this year are new to Nationals sailing - in any class - and they are assured of some friendly but competitive racing for Bronze Fleet honours.

Racing starts on Friday and our reporters and photographer Paul Sanwell will be on the scene to bring you the three days of action, as it happens. Watch this space!

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