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Marlin Spike Rum UK Snipe National Championships 2023 at Bala Sailing Club

by John Reed 18 Aug 2023 07:00 PDT 4-6 August 2023
Marlin Spike Rum UK Snipe National Championships © Amy Barret

The Snipe Class returned to Bala after a 4-year interlude over the long weekend of 4-6th August for their National Championships sponsored by Marlin Spike. Marlin Spike is a premium brand of Rum and have been incredibly supportive of the class in the UK and elsewhere. Bala Sailing Club sits on the beautiful lake which is 4 miles long and surrounded by the rolling hills and mountains of Denbighshire. It is a stunningly beautiful sailing location and area.

The fleet was competitive comprising 22 boats with the usual spread of ages from teens to those a bit older! Entries came from Orkney and Belgium as well as Kent, Devon, and Cheshire. A strong shore-based support team including galley and bar were also present encouraging a family fun filled weekend.

For some the up-and-coming Europeans, Lake Garda and the Masters in Spain were in the background, the Nationals being a proving ground for the international circuit. The Snipe is a huge worldwide class with boats on every continent, the racing is very competitive, with small adjustments resulting in significant differences to outcome. The masters in Spain in the autumn will be competitive but with two races per day, a lower maximum wind limit and a lay day mid regatta, clearly very civilised!

As we like to say 'serious sailing, serious fun'.

Everyone started arriving on Thursday during the day and evening, with Sue and Steve Roberts making the offer of food and wine and an opening regatta get together ahead of the start of the event. This was hosted in the local town of Bala, some already showing more energy than others prior to a very busy sailing and social weekend.

Friday dawned with a light breeze across the reservoir from the north. The emerging thinking was to try to bias the beat to the right. The fleet got away first time in the light breeze, and early leaders were Alan Williams and Liz Pike. Alan and Liz were never really seriously challenged and went on to win by a few boat lengths from Phil and Emma Hackney, with John and Liz Reed in 3rd place.

The second race was back-to-back with the first, this time the Reeds got away from the chasers, going right. During the light part of the race Eric Paalman and Aylish Mackenzie with Mark and Tracy Antonelli stormed through and into 2nd and 3rd places respectively.

It was early days in the Championship but already 2 race winners and the Champions from the previous year not showing, but for how long!

The evening's entertainment, a key component to the Class events started. The pizza van arrived and the bar was open, some of the younger contingent went reasonably large, others talked slightly nervously about the second day forecast!

The second day dawned and the wind filled in quickly down from the east - a solid Force 4. Three races back-to-back was the order of the day. It was going to be a bit of an epic. In the first race the theory of the first day held good, go right, but for a different reason - the wind was bending round the local headland.

After a disappointing first day, Sue and Steve Roberts suddenly found form, blasting off to the right and then finding the Reeds who had also gone right. These two boats were fighting off the following pack, in particular Richard and Debbie Marshall who were revelling in the windier conditions. The Reeds were first going down the last run to the finish but the Roberts were quicker, taking the gun. Ominously Matt Wolstenholme and Will Maguire were third and starting to find their true form.

The second race started and by now going right was fairly established. The racing was very tight with Alan and Liz liking the conditions and playing steady in the lead but being chased hard by Matt and Will. Richard and Debbie finished a close third.

The third race followed a familiar format in terms of wind direction but now the wind was shifting to the left and this meant we saw some new leaders in contention. Kristof Woutters and Roza Hartsans were vying for lead all the way round but eventually Matt and Will won through, with Kristof and Roza second and Alan Williams and Liz Pike third.

All was still to play for on the third and final day. It was possible any one of five boats could win and only one point separated the first three boats. Everything was still all to play for in one of the most closely fought Championships. The wind shifted around a fair bit before the race officer could set a course. The windward mark was close inshore and caused many place changes as the wind rolled over the hills.

In the first race of the day, Sue and Steve Roberts read the conditions the best winning comfortably from achieved from Peter Wolstenholme and Lloyd Roberts second, then Mark and Tracy Antonelli third. In the final race of the Championship Matthew Wolstenholme and Will Maguire won, followed by Mark and Tracy Antonelli who had seriously found their form challenging for third place overall with Eric Paalman and Aylish Mackenzie coming third.

The Snipe fleet benefits from long lasting boats (competitive boats are often over 20 years old), an international racing scene and a very friendly class with excellent closely fought racing in the UK at a selection of venues. Boats are difficult to get hold of so please contact the class association if you are interested in taking part.

The overall results table showed that consistency won the day.

Peter Wolstenholme winning the brand new set of sails generously donated by Marlin Spike in the free draw.

A fantastic time was had by all, with huge thanks going to Bala Sailing Club for their warm welcome and excellent on and offshore teams.

See also: More photos on Facebook and the GPS tracking.

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

1st Master: Alan Williams and Liz Pike
1st Junior Helm: Connor Line
1st Junior Crew: Charlotte Knight
1st Lady Helm: Sue Roberts
1st Ladies Boat: Beth Holbrook and Sally Gilder
1st Orkney Boat: Mark Taylor and Anna Taylor

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6R7Pts
1st28451Matthew WolstenholmeWill MaguireBough Beach‑5‑43214111
2nd30316Alan WilliamsLiz PikeBough Beach15‑713‑10414
3rd29408John ReedLiz ReedBough Beach31255‑8‑716
4th30226Mark AntonelliTracy AntonelliBudworth43‑15‑863218
5th31284Kristof WouttersRoza HartsansSRNA‑76442‑9521
6th30757Peter WolstenholmeLloyd RobertsBough Beach‑6‑76642624
7th29611Sue RobertsSteve RobertsBough Beach‑12‑1517911129
8th30834Eric PaalmanAylish MacKenzieBudworth‑92‑13987329
9th30617P"il HackneyEmma HackneyBudworth21010‑11116‑1539
10th30881Conner LineEmma CurranBough Beach8‑12810‑1751041
11th29970Richard MarshallDebbie MarshallBlackwater10‑165312‑171343
12th26996Chris SurridgeJonathan Surridge ‑15814147‑16851
13th29164Ian KnightCharlotte KnightShoreham13912‑15(DNF)12955
14th9611Patrick SarsfieldNat PearsonBudworth‑141391313‑141260
15th30315Brian GregoryPauline PennyBough Beach‑1611161610‑201669
16th28385Rory MoppettSarah SeddonBough Beach17‑18111214‑181872
17th30227James PrestwichDan PearsonBudworth11‑2018‑1916131472
18th30774Mark TatlorAnna TaylorStromness‑181717171511‑1977
19th106Sam BonnifaceKaty SeddonBough Beach‑2114‑191818151782
20th29677Kathryn AlexanderDavid AlexanderBudworth2019(DNC)(DNC)DNC1921102
21st29834Beth HolbrookSally GilderBudworth1921(DNC)(DNC)DNC2120104
22nd29163Graeme BartlettTony Miller 2222(DNC)(DNC)DNC22DNF112

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