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Noble Marine Lightning 368 2023 National Championship at Chase Sailing Club

by John Butler & Simon Hopkins 26 Sep 2023 08:46 PDT 16-17 September 2023

Continuing a recent trend of increasing attendances at their events, 29 Lightnings arrived at The Chase SC for the Noble Marine Insurance Lightning 368 2023 National Championship over the weekend of the 16th & 17th September, the highest number participating at a Championship since 1999.

The bulk of the action took place on the Saturday, with 2 races before lunch and two after. The wind conditions were a kind 10-14 knots, with an odd lull or two to make things trickier for the competitors.

Race 1

Simon Hopkins started on starboard at the pin end, immediately tacked off onto port, and rounded the top mark well clear of the next gaggle of boats, headed by Caroline Hollier, Tony Jacks and locals Chris Anderson and Huw Hopkins.

Simon drew away on every leg whilst the wind held, whilst further back Jeremy Cooper was recovering rapidly from a poor, late start. Jeremy used his superior downwind speed to finally get on terms with the others, and when the wind lightened somewhat was able to pass them and make ground on the distant Simon.

It finished Simon, Jeremy and then Caroline at the end.

Race 2

There was a melee at the pin end of the port biased line when Penny Yarwood attempted a port end flyer and got caught by John Butler on starboard, and both ended up hitting each other and the mark as they tangled.

The best start was by Jason Gallagher, who spotted a gap in the the boats coming in on starboard, burst through on a port tack further up the line, got clear air, and rounded the windward mark ahead of Simon. Despite the line bias, Jeremy Cooper started late at the committee boat end and headed right, whilst the fleet went left, but a late shift up the beat brought him back in contention.

On the run, Simon got past Jason, but Jason retook the lead on the next beat when he caught Simon on starboard. The wind then lightened and became flukey, which allowed Jeremy and Tony Jacks to overhaul Simon, who dropped to sixth when he went left on the next upwind leg whilst the others went right.

Jeremy was eventually able to overhaul Jason to take the win, with Tony in 3rd, and Simon recovered to 4th at the end.

Race 3

The lunch break must have had an effect on John Claridge, as after a non finish and a 7th in the morning, he absolutely nailed the start and first beat to round clear ahead of Simon, and together they then battled it out for the rest of the race, with the rest of the fleet way back. Simon did get ahead on the next beat, but John retook the lead on the run and held it to the finish.

The best of the rest was again Jeremy, who had to make it past both Caroline & Tony after another late start. Tony eventually secured 4th by the finish.

Race 4

After nearly 4 hours of racing on the water, a few competitors were starting to flag physically, with many reporting attacks of cramp in the final race of the day.

After a poor set of results in her first three races, Penny got it absolutely right at the start of this race, and with a devastating first beat was way, way clear by the top mark. Meanwhile, John Claridge, Paul Beven and John Butler had a decent first leg, with Jeremy, Caroline, Tony and Simon further back.

Simon recovered to 3rd over the next few legs, whilst John Claridge started to reel in Penny. John edged ever closer, eventually tempting Penny into a covering tacking duel to the finish, which the wily old fox used to punch through into the lead at the very end.

Simon consolidated 3rd position by the finish, holding off the ever charging Jeremy.

At the end of the first day both Simon & Jeremy were equal on points, with John in third with two bullets but also two poor results.

Race 5

Sunday dawned breezier, with the wind in the region of 14-16 knots, occasionally gusting to over 20, so the inevitable number of capsizes kept the safety boats busy.

At the start it was hard to cross the line on starboard. The race to tack away after the gun was timed to perfection by Chris Anderson, who tacked at the pin and cleared the fleet. Simon was second to get clear onto port and they led the fleet off upwind.

Simon led around first mark ahead of Tony Jacks, then Penny and Jeremy. Simon started to lead the fleet to the wrong mark, which Tony realised first and headed off into the lead, but he then capsized on the gybe mark letting Simon back into the lead again. On the long reach Jeremy got though to 2nd, and Simon then spent the race covering Jeremy for the win. Ben Twist had his best race in the breezy conditions coming through to 3rd, with Tony recovering to 4th after his dunking and Penny back in 5th. John Claridge had another poor result in 10th, so the scene was then set for the final showdown between Simon & Jeremy.

Race 6

A course change for a shift in wind direction saw a more even start, and most of the fleet hitting the starboard lay line. Simon stayed more central and rounded ahead of John Claridge and John Butler who had gone hard left and it paid!

Simon and John Claridge pulled away, but eventually Jeremy got clear of the pack and tried to chase them down. Simon clinched the title with another race win, and Jeremy's 3rd meant he had to be content with 2nd overall and Veteran Champion. John's 2nd place in this race consolidated 3rd place overall for him, despite his earlier inconsistencies.

The Ladies Champion in 5th overall was Caroline Hollier, Ben Twist in 8th was Silver fleet winner and promoted to the Gold Fleet for 3 years, Huw Hopkins secured the Giles Trophy for the leading Mk1 Giles boat in 10th, and Junior Champion was Clayton Parker in 16th.

In the special categories, Joanna Bamberger was awarded the Sutton in Ashfield SC Endeavour Trophy for the highest place competitor that finished every race in their 1st ever championship, whilst the Spirit of the Class Trophy was awarded to the Hopkins family from Chase, who were instrumental in building the local fleet up to 9 boats over the last year.

Overall, The Chase Sailing Club did the Lightning fleet proud, with the Race, Safety, Beach and Catering teams giving great service over the whole weekend. Even the Social Evening and Disco on the Saturday night was highly popular, with Simon Hopkins celebrating his 60th birthday with a cake presented by the Lightning Committee, followed by plenty of "Dad Dancing" on the dance floor.

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

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1st428Simon HopkinsUp River YC1‑423118
2nd410Jeremy CooperShotwick213‑42311
3rd447John ClaridgeLymington Town SC(DNF)71110221
4th444Tony JacksBartley(DNF)3454925
5th438Caroline HollierWest Oxfordshire SC36576‑827
6th425Penny YarwoodUp River YC108725(DNF)32
7th417Jason GallagherDenholme SC921087(DNF)36
8th435Ben TwistBroadstairs SC‑1298123436
9th429Ralph DrewWeston SC612968‑1541
10th328Huw HopkinsChase SC5101213‑19747
11th441Ian RansonBolton SC(DNF)51111151052
12th325Paul BevenUp River YC8‑14131091252
13th433John ButlerSutton‑in‑Ashfield SC11‑18151611659
14th404Christopher AndersonChase S.C411(DNF)DNS12562
15th430Graham LazellUp River YC715‑1614141464
16th257Clayton ParkerWinsford Flash SC151314913(DNF)64
17th407Bryan WestleyChase SC131617‑18161375
18th402Stephen HodgsonDenholme SC1617‑1919181181
19th334Alison HopkinsChase SC18191815‑221787
20th337Paul TaylorBurghfield SC1721620(DNS)DNC94
21st145Delyth HopkinsChase SC192021‑23211697
22nd439Judith StrattonWest Kirby SC14(DNF)201717DNF98
23rd181Joanna BambergerLakeside Bosworth21‑2523242018106
24th228Steve AshtonShotwick Lake SC(DNF)2222222319108
25th175Spencer HopkinsChase SC22232521(DNF)DNF121
26th167Elanwy HopkinsChase SC23272626(DNF)20122
27th224Carmen EvansChase SC(DNF)24242524DNS127
28th95Richard StrattonWest Kirby SC20(DNF)DNSDNSDNSDNS140
29th298Georgie ParkerWinsford Flash SC(DNF)2627DNSDNSDNS143

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