The Start Line, photo by Ben Falat
The Noble Marine Streaker National Championship was held at Royal Torbay YC over three days (Friday 23rd to Sunday 25th June). The conditions were pretty tough; the forecast had suggested that Friday’s wind would have eased by Sunday but that didn’t happen. Fortunately, by Sunday, we had got used to it although there were some seriously aching muscles after the 7-race series was over.
It was disappointing that the entry of 21 boats was considerably lower than had been hoped for but those that came were well looked after by the club and the race management was excellent. The good news was that 9 of last year’s top 10 boats were there and also that we had 6 competitors for whom this was their first Streaker nationals.
Race 1 was sailed over rather a short course. The Race Officer was somewhat taken aback at how fast we were in those planing conditions, even though some of us did tack round at the gybe marks! Last year’s top 3 (Tom Gillard, Isaac Marsh and Ian Jones) were soon battling for the lead and there were several place changes before Marsh crossed the finish line first, just ahead of Gillard. Jones was 3rd and Doug Horner 4th. Meanwhile Alan Gillard had to retire when a shackle on his forestay came undone and he managed to return to the harbour, fix it and still make the start of the next race. However, 8 boats either didn’t start or retired from Race 2 as the wind continued to build. One such boat was Rupert Smith’s which had its clew cringle pull out of the sail at the gybe mark; he was in 3rd place at the time. Tom Gillard won the race and held a narrow points lead over Marsh and Jones at the end of the first day.
Tom Gillard winner of 2017 Championship, photo by Jean Border (www.borderphotos2010.com)
Saturday’s three back-to-back races were also sailed in a south-westerly wind which offered tough beats and exciting downwind sailing. There were plenty of shifts and so lots of chances to make gains or suffer losses. Race 3 saw Jones take the win, with Tom Gillard finishing 2nd just ahead of Marsh, and Alan Gillard in 4th place after a close battle with Smith. Jones was now just 1 point off the lead but his chances took a knock in Race 4 when he started a fraction too early and was called back. By the time he got clear and could restart, he was well behind the rest of the fleet but amazingly he worked his way right through to 4th place at the finish. The win went to Marsh, with Horner 2nd and Tom Gillard 3rd. Now Marsh was the overall leader, tying on points with Gillard but having 2 race wins to his name. However, when the chips are down, Tom Gillard has the knack of getting back in front and he won Race 5 and so led again at the end of the second day.
On Sunday morning we watched the committee boat set out into conditions that looked as windy as ever. Fortunately, by the time the racing started, it had moderated a bit and in fact there were some surprisingly quiet patches from time to time. Race 6 was sailed over a longer course; it took 15 minutes to beat to the first mark but it had the bonus of some super long reaching legs. Jones got clear and took the win, while Gillard had a real battle on his hands with Horner and Marsh. In the end Horner finished 2nd and Gillard 3rd. This meant that the championship depended on the final race. Jones and Gillard were counting identical race scores but they could both be beaten by Marsh if they finished worse than 3rd and Marsh won the race. The course had been made a bit smaller and the race got underway with the fleet splitting tacks as they tried to keep clear of each other while still playing the shifts. Jones looked well placed early on but on the second lap Gillard made a big gain and eventually finished first and so won the Championship by the narrow margin of 1 point ahead of Jones.
Ian Jones 2nd overall, photo by Jean Border (www.borderphotos2010.com)
The competition at the front of the fleet had been terrific with the leading helmsmen demonstrating super fitness, determination and great boat-handling skills. For those of us further down the fleet, there was also good competition with the added spice of not being sure we would get round without capsizing!
It was a very enjoyable event, made particularly memorable by the can-do attitude of those for whom this was well outside their usual comfort zone. It was great to see the ‘Girls on Tour’ team from Dittisham giving it a go every day, even though they hadn’t sailed at sea before, and returning with broad grins. Well done everyone!
Thank you to Royal Torbay YC for a super time and to our sponsors – Noble Marine Insurance, Rooster Sailing and North Sails.
Photographs of the event can be found at www.borderphotos2010.com