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Blaze National Championships 2019

It was an outstanding weekend of racing for the Blaze Nationals which where held at Brixham Yacht Club.

51 entrants descended upon the Torbay based club despite the very dodgy looking weather forecast. Most of the fleet arrived on the Thursday to a sunny afternoon which made for a great chance to catch up with other fellow blazers, compare rig and boat setups and mull over the wind which was forecast for the weekend.

Friday morning was scheduled for a relaxed start time of 1250, allowing early morning arrivals plenty of time to rig. Unfortunately, for those arriving on Friday morning the weather wasn’t quite as nice as the evening before. With a strong overnight wind and rain falling the conditions out in Torbay looked bleak. Thankfully, as the event briefing kicked off in the warm and dryness of the club bar all the competitors could see the wind and rain easing, however, this didn’t reduce the big rolling swell which had been created overnight. Shortly after the briefing the 47 Blaze sailors and 4 Fire sailors set off into the big rolling swell of Torbay in about 10-12 knts of wind.

After a short postponement due to wind shifts a very tricky first race got underway. Surprisingly, with big rolling swell that seemed to have short sharp chop to go with it, the lake sailors from Chase came out firing with 3 sailors in the top 10, including race winner Eden Hyland.

As the wind continued to slowly flick north and drop, race 2 got underway with a big rolling swell still present. Chris Saunders from Wilsonian Sailing Club used his wave sailing skill to surf into a huge lead whilst the rest of the fleet battled it out on the triangle-sausage course.

Race 3 eventually got underway after a short postponement from Race Officer Sean Semmens as he battled the shifty breeze. Unfortunately, not long after the start a big dark rain cloud came bulldozing its way through the racecourse and with it turned off the wind. The race was promptly abandoned, and the fleet towed ashore. After a quick de-rig, the sailors soon headed into the bar for the buffet dinner and evening act of The Shanty Men.

Day 2 and the wind had flicked round to the west overnight and built steadily. By the morning it was blowing a very gusty 20-25knts. As launching commenced, it wasn’t long before the first of the long list of casualties started to emerge. Hugh Kingdon damaged his tiller and Nick Ripley suffered a kicker breakage. After a quick return to shore for some spares, both where back out and battling the wind before the first start got underway.

Day 2 was going to be all about the boat handling as many of fleet experienced a capsize at some point or another, generally during a gybe! Race 4 was a trapezoid course and as it turned out great conditions for the Fire sail. Simon Beddows, one of the four sailor who decided to choose the smaller Fire sail at the start of the regatta lead the race for quite some time until Peter Barlow and Martin Hattersley managed to power their way through with the bigger Blaze sail. Peter took the final line honours with Martin 2nd and Simon finishing in 3rd.

Race 5 and the wind dropped slightly for the first beat giving some of the smaller guys a chance to get back to the front of the fleet. Eden Hyland, Hugh Kingdon, Josh Hyland and Ben Harden had a good crack at the front with each sailor having a short stint in the lead. Eden finished strong and took another bullet.

Race 6, by this point the wind had taken most of its victims with only 19 of the 47-boat fleet finishing the final race of the day. Race 6 was won by Eden Hyland with Nick Ripley and Mike Bell close behind.

Race Officer Sean Semmens soon decided, enough was enough, and sent the fleet in for a well-deserved beer.

After racing the AGM was held in the club bar. Attendance was good as Hugh Kingdon, Blaze class treasurer, agreed a free beer to all members who turned up. During the swift and successful AGM, it was agreed that new Blaze members would gain their first year of membership free of charge and under 21’s would also be waived of any membership fees. Eden Hyland was then selected to join the class committee as the Blaze technical adviser and Ben Harden was selected as marketing officer.

The final morning of racing was brought forward an hour from the scheduled start time in the hope that the race abandoned on Friday could be re-sailed, allowing for the full series to be complete and the sailors to gain the additional discard. Unfortunately, the wind did not accumulate until mid-morning. When the sea breeze finally kicked in. The fleet then set off in perfect conditions with sun shining and wind steadily at 10-12knts.

The first win of the day went to Malcom Hutchings of the Royal Corinthian, after an absolute cracker of a start he held the lead for the entirety of the race whilst Hugh Kingdon managed to come back strong and finish 2nd despite his 720 penalty at the first windward mark. Josh Hyland was a close 3rd.

Race 8 saw another great start from Malcom Hutchings who lead to the windward mark. Unfortunately, having not spotted the 3rd mark of the reverse P course before it was too late, the pack behind him sailed a shorter course and managed to get through. Josh Hyland then led a very close battle between himself, Richard botting and Nick Ripley. Josh Just managed to take the win.

Race Officer Sean Semmens then decided there was no more time for another race and so the event was finished.

After a complete mixture of conditions Eden Hyland of Chase Sailing Club was crowned the 2019 Blaze National Champion for a second time. Eden also took home the youth title which he has now won a handful of times.

Nick Ripley of Paignton Sailing Club took 2nd place whilst Josh Hyland finished 3rd.

The Blaze Class are hoping to head to the East coast for the 2020 Nationals and would love to see more new sailors join the steadily growing, competitive and friendly fleet. Head over to the Blaze Facebook group or Class website to get involved with the banter and to keep up to date with all the events and latest news.

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