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Cadet National Championship at South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club

by David Little 11 Sep 2023 11:29 PDT 27-31 August 2023
2023 Cadet Nationals at Abersoch © Tim Hampton /

A classic event at a favourite venue

46 Cadets journeyed to South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club for the 2023 Cadet Nationals, having last been at this brilliant location in 2017 (with some longstanding members bearing the T shirts to prove it). Commodore’s drinks welcomed us on the Saturday.

Sunday 27 August brought grey skies and 10-14 kts,from 285 degrees, with some rain forecast. Race Officer Bob ‘Arky’ Wainwright, with SCYC’s Pete Richards by his side, set up a trapezoid inner loop course inside and above St Tudwal’s Islands, where we would stay for most of the week. After a short and curtailed practice race which showed shifts closer to the shore, Race 1 got under way with a clean yet competitive start. The fleet spread out evenly, with those playing the shifts gaining. At the top mark, 8308 (sailing as 028) sailed by Fiona Nee and Penelope Davies was first, followed by 8533 sailed by George Little and Hugh Voysey, then 10012 with Alex Enkel and Jude Baldock third. On the second beat the leaders went left, and 10076 sailed by Amelie Whitehouse and Maddie Sherwood climbed to third, with a gap to second. George & Hugh closed the gap on Fiona & Penelope to overtake at the bottom mark, only to relinquish the lead on the short final beat to the line. Hats off to Fiona, returning to Cadets after a 9 month academic sojourn, and to Penelope, only her third time in a Cadet. She would go on to win the youngest crew award (one of two 7 year olds).

The 11 boat Regatta fleet, sailing the trapezoid without the loop, all went right, and by the top mark 9634 sailed by Holly Jones and Finn Sullam led, with 9043 with Olivia Stamp and Sophia Stamp second and 9378 with Immy Sherwood and Anna Thomas third. Holly & Finn extended well on the run to take first. 10002 sailed by Ava Stoddart and Isabelle Davies sailed well to take third.

Day 2

Grey but dry, starting with 12 kts from 310, but with the breeze going right in the gusts by 20 degrees. Race 2: Arky got the fleet away bang on time, but with an Individual recall flag flying. Most of the fleet went left but Alex & Jude worked their way up the middle to round the top mark first. George & Hugh were second followed by Amelie and Maddy third. Positions remained static on the run and all rounded the right-hand gate mark. But big changes happened on the beat as some sailors took advantage of big wind shifts. By the top mark, Kemmel Thorogood and Georgina Loader in 10001 had taken the lead, with Monty Hampton and Wilf Kingsnorth in 7231 second and Sam Nee and Audrey Giumali in 9028 third. Sam and Audrey overtook Monty and Wilf on the second downwind leg, but Kemmel and Georgina had a big lead and held onto it to finish first. Regatta fleet all decided to go left, and by their top mark Holly and Finn were first, with Ava and Isabelle second and Olivia and Sophia third. Ava and Isabelle fought well to take first at the line, with Olivia and Sophia second and Holly and Finn dropping to third.

Race 3: Your correspondent missed the start as we were ferrying a cold crew to shore. By the time we returned, Sam and Audrey were leading at the second top mark, with Tom Shepherd and Annabel Shepherd in 9994 second and George Cox-Olliff and George Letts in 10094 coming third. On the downwind leg, the two Georges managed to overtake Tom and Annabel to take second on the line. In regatta fleet, at the top mark 9669 sailed by Gregory Boddy and Sebastian Baer led, with 8537 sailed by Mimi Windibank and Rose Little second and Holly & Finn third. Mave Parry-Shield and Sophie Baer would fight through on the downwind legs to come second, moving Mimi and Rose to third at the line.

Race 4: the wind was down to 10/11 kts. In the main fleet the boats bunched at the committee boat end, with an individual recall and three boats returning. On the beat a big 20 degree left shift came in, with those who had gone left gaining as a result. By the top mark, Tom and Annabel were leading, ahead of Sam and Audrey, with Evan Harris and James Vellacott in 10007 in third. Positions were stable on the run, with a big bunch at the gate mark, but the second beat saw those on the left gain and several places change. By the top, Sophia Sfaxi and Evie Boddy in 9964 was leading, with Alex and Jude second and George and Hugh third - they held these positions to the end. In Regatta Fleet, Ava and Isabelle sailed a great beat to round the top mark first, with Mimi and Rose second and Holly and Finn third. They would hold these places to the finish.

Day 3

The fleet was held ashore until 1115 due to a lack of wind. But by the time the warning signal flew at 1230, a steady 13kts was flowing from 325 degrees. Race 5: another punchy start with an Individual Recall flying, with one boat returning. Most of the fleet went left, with a third going up the middle. At the top mark, Dylan McArdle and Lewis Walker in 9289 were leading, with Rhona Enkel and Sophie Ringland in 9982 second (fresh from winning Waldringfield Cadet Week). Sophia and Evie were third. The tide was starting to affect the run, with everyone going port-pole and not needing to gybe. Marks 1 were kept busy relaying the top mark, with most boats then going right on the second beat. At the second top mark, Tom and Annabel had pulled through to lead ahead of Rhona and Sophie, with Alex and Jude third (Sophia and Evie taking turns at the mark). On the reach and run, the top pack were being chased down by Sam & Audrey and Monty & Wilf. The short beat to the finish was critical, with Tom and Annabel clear ahead, but Alex and Jude moved to second with Sam and Audrey taking third on the line. Regatta Fleet had a new course - a smaller version of the full trapezoid with their own (rather small) windward mark 300m beneath the main fleet’s. Holly and Finn rounded this first, with Immy and Anna second and Ava and Isabelle third. The new course clearly gave opportunity for places to change; at the finish Ava and Isabelle were first, Immy and Anna second and Holly and Finn third.

Race 6. The wind was skittish, causing a relaid top mark and an AP during the first sequence. But the fleet got away cleanly in the end. A rescue distracted us from commentary; by the finish the main fleet was led by Tom and Annabel, with Sam and Audrey second and Alex McEwan and Amber Guimali in 10092 third. In Regatta fleet Holly and Finn took line honours, Mave and Sophie were second and Olivia and Sophia were third.

Race 7. The tide had turned by this stage and was pushing the fleet over the line. After an AP and a general recall, Arky went for a U flag (which would catch out three boats). Most of the fleet went for a long port-tack, an with the wind going left about halfway up the beat this paid well. Lots on the right overstood the mark. At the top, Sophia and Evie led, with Jemima McMorris and Harriet Davies in 8532 were an impressive second, followed by Rhona and Sophie in third. Most of the leaders had gripped the downwind leg too, and applied their first-leg tactics to the second beat, with a few place changes. Sophia and Evie held first at the line, with Rhona and Sophie taking second. Tom and Annabel took third moving Jemima and Harriet into fourth. In Regatta, Mave and Sophie took line honours, with Charlotte Noren-Topham and Miles Hardy in 8427 sailing a great race to take second, with Immy and Anna third.

Day 4

14/16 kts from 305 - this wind now becoming familiar to the fleet, but with the tides becoming stronger. Race 8. The fleet started cleanly under a P flag, with 30% going left and 70% right. At the top mark, George and Hugh rounded first, followed by Monty and Wilf with Alex and Jude third. These positions would be held until the second beat, when Monty and Wilf tacked off left, taking the lead from George and Hugh when they met again at the top mark. The tide was making the bottom reach tighter, with a couple of boats dropping their spinnaker - and the top of Monty’s (brand new) centreboard had sheared off on the reach, causing extra pressure on the leading boat. But they hung on and took first, with second and third unchanged. Arky had treated Regatta fleet to a larger windward mark, which Gregory and Sebastian rounded first, with Ava and Isabelle and Holly and Finn overlapping behind them. Disaster was to befall Gregory and Sebastian as a capsize took them down to eighth. Ava and Isabelle took first again, with Holly and Finn second and Mave and Sophie third.

Race 9. The wind had dropped a little to 12kts, but stayed at around 310. The fleet bunched at the committee boat but got away cleanly. Josh Davidson and Rosie Hancock in an immaculately redecked 7274 did a port-hand flyer. Most of the fleet went left, although the right seemed to pay. At the top mark Rhona and Sophie rounded first, followed by Sam and Audrey with Dylan and Lewis third. But Gwen Thorogood and Primrose Denny-Pickess had other plans, and went from fifth to first by the second top mark. The girls held this place to the finish, with Rhona and Sophie second and Alex and Jude third. In Regatta fleet, the sailors got away cleanly and sailed well up the first beat under the watchful eye of former Cadet World Champion Toby Bush, coaching the Regatta fleet all week. By the windward mark, Holly and Finn were first, followed by Gregory and Sebastian with Mave and Sophie third. But Ava and Isabelle overtook to take the win, with Holly and Finn second and Mave and Sophie third.

Race 10. The breeze was now down to 10kts from 315 degrees, and the fleet clearly favoured the pin end, with bunching resulting in three boats being over - only one went back. The tide was starting to take effect, becoming a more dominant factor with less wind. By the top mark, Sophia and Evie were first, with Dylan and Lewis second and Evan and James third. The run became a cagy affair, with clear air more important than before - by the second top mark, Rhona and Sophie had squeezed Evan and James out for third. On the reaches and run they also overtook Dylan and Lewis, but Sophia and Evie had a massive lead and took that to finish in style. In regatta fleet, Mave and Sophie rounded the top mark first with Holly and Finn second and light-wind specialists Mimi and Rose third. Mimi and Rose managed to climb to second by the line, with Ava and Isabelle claiming third.

Day 5

Overnight the wind had shifted all the way round to 145 degrees, and whilst the breeze was only 12kts the new direction brought a good swell with it - ripe for surfing if it could be achieved. Race 11 started with an even spread, but tide and enthusiasm saw a general recall. The sailors were more cautious under the U flag, with none being over. The fleet split, but some detected a slight left-hander that benefitted those who had gone left. By the first top mark, Tom and Annabel were first, followed by George and Hugh with Sam and Audrey third. Things were tight on the second beat, with Sam and Audrey overtaking George and Hugh by the windward mark. The reach was punchy, with a solid breeze and great waves - many smiles to be had! There was also a fight on at the front: Sam and Audrey and Tom and Annabel were in contention for the overall title, not just for this race. Sam and Audrey managed to catch Tom and Annabel on the run and just pip them for first. In Regatta fleet, Immy and Anna rounded first, with Olivia and Sophia second and Ava and Isabelle third. Regatta fleet sailors were more cautious on the reach, many choosing to wait until the run before hoisting - fair enough. But good work by Gregory and Sebastian saw them climb up to third by the finish and overtake Ava and Isabelle.

Race 12. The breeze was down a little, but the swell was still there. A generous AP in the last minute given the fleet was rushing the line. Arky broke out the U flag again, catching three at the pin end. The fleet followed the wisdom of the first race and went left. At the top mark, Sam and Audrey (so fast upwind in 10kts) were in the lead, with Tom and Annabel second and Alex McEwan and Amber Guimali in 10092 third. Sam and Audrey maintained a strong lead, with Gwen and Primrose overtaking Alex and Amber to take third. These positions remained unchanged until the finish line. In Regatta fleet, three boats were over and had to go back. All went left (were they watching the main fleet?) and by the top mark Olivia and Sophia were first, with Holly and Finn second and Jenna Berry and Austin Berry in 8333 third. But Ava and Isabelle staged another comeback to overtake all for first place by the finish, with Olivia and Sophia second and Holly and Finn third.

Well, what an event that had been! And with a dominant last day, Sam and Audrey were very deserving National Champions, finishing five points clear of Tom and Annabel in second, with Rhona and Sophie four points after them. Consistency pays. And lovely to see a wooden boat take the title, with a gentle resurgence of woodies happening across the country.

Our massive thanks to everyone at SCYC for another brilliant Cadet Nationals, in particular Pete Richards for everything he did. And our thanks to all those behind the scenes for a wonderful - and very social - event, with particular recognition to Edd McArdle and Deb Sherwood for masterminding it all.

And so on to the Inland Championships at Queen Mary on 23 & 24 September!

Overall Results:
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