Race report for Redwing National Championships
22 boats graced the North Devon coastal port at Instow, celebrating the 50th Anniversary since the last Redwing championships in these parts.
Sunday 27th dawned with the bank holiday weather delivering an uncharacteristically large high pressure and with it, absolutely no wind. After much waiting and hoping on the beach, no sea breeze materialised – Race 1 abandoned for the day.
Day 2 – the frustrating weather continued with hot sunny weather and no wind. When eventually the breeze did pick up off the sea, the tide had gone – racing was once again abandoned.
Day 3 – finally the weather forecast was good. Race 3 was scheduled for a 1000 start with re-sailed race 1 to follow. The wind looked good with NW breezes at 8-10 kn. A great start by local sailor Amy Barker saw her lead half the fleet off to the Appledore shore. Mike Stace and Deanna Morten from Tenby SC chose to stick to the North Shore however, and soon the fleet was evenly split between the North and Appledore Shores. With the shortened course flag flying, the fleet beat to the finish line giving a race win to Mike, followed by Colin Crabb and Adam Hayler from Looe second and Eric Evans and Katie Quick from NDYC third.
There was a quick turn around to get the fleet off for race 4. With the wind freshening to force 4, the fleet were on the wire to windward and also saw several capsizes and gear failures at the gybe mark. A somewhat tired fleet reached the finish line following the full 3 laps with Jack Pope and Chris Jackman from Looe taking a good first place with fellow Looe sailors Peter Kinver and Joe Palfry taking second, and in third Arthur and Tasmin Kinver. The close racing was emphasised by a dead heat for fourth between Colin Crabb and Mike Stace.
Day 4 dawned with light winds circling the bay giving the RO yet another challenge. Eventually race 3 started with a beat down tide leading to a reach. A big wind shift on gybe mark changed the second reach to a beat back now against the tide. Reluctant to lose another race in the programme, the RO pressed on, judging the race fair as the wind filled across the full fleet at the leeward mark. The Third race was won by Angus Cook and Tom Lewis from NDYC and Colin Crabb taking second. Jack pope took third so the pattern was emerging with the top 6 close with 3 different winners.
The wind freshened for race 4 with crews seen on the wire again on the final beat to the estuary mouth. Keith and Ned Buchanan from Scilly became the fourth winner in the 4 races but the pattern emerged with the strong Looe contingent of Colin Crabb and jack Pope taking second and third and Mike Stace from Tenby in fourth.
Race Day 5 saw the programme back up-to-date with one race scheduled. The Race officer set a longer course but the wind remained gusty and shifting. Angus Cook got away well and led for 3 laps always closely challenged by jack Pope and Colin Crabb. As the finish approached Angus seemed to fall into a light patch with Jack and Colin luffing above the finish line in a good gust. Angus just managed to squeeze enough power to cross first with Jack Pope with crew Chris Jackman taking second to give a strong championship lead on 8 points. Second and third overall are currently Colin Crabb crewed by Adam Hayler on 11.5 points and local sailor Angus Cook crewed by Tom Lewis lying in third overall with 12 points. Final race to come with all to play for. The team prizes look like Looe will be in first overall but with NDYC, Tenby and Scilly crews all in the top 5 standings, it remains close.
Roll on the rest of the week. With 4 races done and 2 more to follow there is all to play for with Looe sailors Jack Pope being most consistent in first place chased by Colin Crabb in second. The Tenby pair in third and Buchannans from Scilly in fourth.
The final day dawned with a breeze increasing to 10kn from the west and bright sun. The course was set with mile long beats and 3 laps plus a beat. Jack Pope imposed himself as national champion by an emphatic win leading almost from the start, with an excellent performance from Peter Kniver to take second. A third place was enough to ensure second overall over Angus Cook. So Looe SC dominated a very competitive Nationals this year with NDYC, Tenby and Scilly all taking minor places in the top 5. Angus Cook from NDYC took the prize for the top placed boat over 50 years old – an excellent result emphasising how these classic boats can achieve good results across the age range.
An excellent prize giving dinner for 74 finished the event only leaving derigging and travel home. Two of the Scilly boats were travelling deck cargo onboard a support yacht – a very novel but practical way to get to the Championships. Well done all.