So the day dawned, and with all preparations in place, the National Championships at North Devon YC in Instow were off. The normally windy location produced light, variable winds all week and challenged the Race Team to find fair racing.
Light easterly winds with a tide under the fleet gave them a challenge at the start and after a general recall and a U Flag flying, they were finally off. The fleet split left and right but stronger tides right were offset with a shifting wind inshore. At the end of lap 1, Eden Hyland led with Charlie Chandler in close second. Andy McIvor was in the chasing bunch. By the end of the second beat Charlie took the lead. At the finish it was (581) Charlie who took the gun in a tight finish with (766) Josh Hyland coming through for second, (837) Eden found he was UFD for over the start line, and (826) Andy took third.
The second race got underway with slack tide and a near perfect start looking down the line. Most competitors stayed left with Nick Ripley (807) and local Hugh Kingdon (827) fighting it out for the lead. The square course gave competitors something more to think about but in the end Nick hung on to first, with Hugh in second, and Alex Walton sailing consistently to 3rd.
Race 3 saw the tide running against the beat now and all were well shy of the start line at the gun. The windward Leeward course with tide reversing was tricky, with the middle looking like the best option. Simon Beddows (800) took the windward mark first, closely followed by Mike Lyons (818). The day ended with Mike taking the honours, Eden coming through to second, and Simon finishing third.
Day 2 – The wind was a light Easterly but with sea breeze threatening from the NW. 5 courses were set and re-set before finally 1 race was sailed with the course set across the tide. Andy (826) despite leading to the first buoy, was over the line at the start – UFD. The leeward gate mark was a challenge in very light winds but the top of the fleet were all in place. Peter McFarlane was well up but missed the start gate and returned losing out badly. The race was won again by Charlie (581) with Mike (818) taking second.
Day 3 – Two races planned and the courses were set in strong tides in the estuary mouth with 10-12 kn winds. The majority of the fleet found tidal shelter on the right side of the course but local man Eric Evans (713) took the pin end going left with half a dozen followers. Eric lead with Andy (826) challenging for the first lap but eventually succumbed. Andy McIvor took first, Eric second, and Ben Harden (661) took third. To the final race. Same course but now with most heading to the left after the windward mark was moved over.
The race was taken by Charlie once more to make it 3 bullets and the championship. Second was Eden Hyland, third Andy McIvor, and in 4th place Ben Harden whose consistent results gave him second overall.
Some challenging conditions with light winds and tides gave all a great weekend racing.
For full results, photos, and links to the GPS tracks of the race, head to https://www.sailingsw.co.uk/blaze-2018-nationals