A mixed bag of conditions met the competitors this weekend at Annandale in Scotland for the Scottish National Championships, the third event of the Nationwide series. Greeting them for the first race was light winds shifting frequently as it passed over the trees on the shore, the decision from the Race Officer was that 4 races would be sailed on the first day because the forecast was heavy for the next day.
After plenty of large shifts and a postponement on the start, the first race was underway, the line bias changing dramatically in the last 20 seconds causing quite a lot of chaos! Dave and Ed Coady flew away from the fleet with an amazing start allowing them to increase their lead giving them a comfortable 1st and leaving the rest of the boats to fight for second. Some close tussles in the fleet left Reg and George in 2nd and John Hugo and Mary-ann McVey in 3rd.
The second race saw John Hugo take off from the fleet (he was Hugo Bossing it!), with a significant lead he was unstoppable, leaving everyone else to fight for second again. Reg and George managed to snatch the 2nd again leaving 3rd place up for grabs! A close battle between Rob Dean and Bob Towler ensued with Bob taking 3rd, Rob in 4th followed by Emma and Ben who unfortunately were OCS.
The hospitality of the club was shown between the two races when a short break was made to ferry people to the toilet, some helms trembled as they uncertainly left their crews to singlehand when the wind picked up!
The final two races of that day were much closer with the fleet staying more compact and not allowing one particular boat to pull too far ahead allowing boat-on-boat tactics to really come into play. Emma and Ben and Emma and Faye were close throughout the race but with Emma and Ben pulling away towards the end and Reg and George sneaking in to take second. Emma and Ben won the 3rd race but the real action happened mid-fleet with April Whiteley’s screams of ‘NO ROOM’ being heard for miles around! These seemed to work as April and Megan gained one of their best results in that race.
Race 4 followed, quick turn-arounds by the Race Officer meant the racing was efficient with no time wasted and we were off again! A fairly good start by Reg and George set them off at the front of the fleet with Emma and Ben and Dave and Ed Coady in hot pursuit putting pressure on them. Fluky windshifts meant the racing was quite stressful at times but once ahead it was difficult to pass the leaders and Reg and George managed to pull away and win followed by Emma in 2nd and Dave in 3rd.
Overnight, mathematical brains whirred with calculations of who had to beat who and where they had to come and the morning brought a whole new set of conditions to the table.
Stronger winds with potentially worrying gusts looked favourable to the heavier pairings causing some trepidation with the younger, lighter teams. However, the Race Officers had planned it well so only 2 races were to be sailed and plenty of rescue boats were stationed if needed.
Up the first beat in race 5, 3 boats led with wind shifts determining who would make it to the windward mark first. Tom and Ellie who were thriving in the heavy winds fought with Emma and Ben and Reg and George in a battle for 1st. Reg made it to the windward mark first leaving Emma and Tom to scrap together slowing each other down slightly giving Reg and George a larger lead to hold onto. Tom gained 2nd and Emma followed in 3rd after the crossed the line at the same time. This race also saw a few capsizes by boats but all well dealt with and speedy recoveries, especially I saw Jamie and Abi capsize in the final race and they were so fast to recover that they barely lost any ground which is an amazing feat!
In their eagerness to go, people pushed the line on the final start and in the absence of a General Recall flag the Race Officer put up an abandon flag, after this they used the black flag (dun dun dun!) The main battle here was to be between Emma and Ben and Dave and Ed to see who would be 2nd as 1st had already been secured. Action packed racing followed with Dave and Ed being pushed up along the reach causing them to drop back but leaving Emma in second.
Thanks to NeilPryde, our generous sponsor, there were lots of amazing prizes.
1st Rachel Grayson and George Stainforth
2nd Emma Grayson and Ben Settle
3rd David and Ed Coady
4th Tom Dean and Ellie Benn
5th Emma Clayton and Faye Caswell
Beaver Sailing Club won the prize for the best team as its top 3 boats had the best score.
First Scottish boat was John Hugo and Mary-ann McVey.
First Scottish juniors were Rebecca Coles and Zac Holland.
First single hander was Rob Dean.
Jamie Whiteley and Abi Thornley won the Endeavour prize for finishing every race.
Well done to everyone, I hope to see you all again in Ireland for the Worlds or at the next Nationwide event.
Thankyou to Annandale Sailing Club, the Race Officer and the galley.
Report by Rachel Grayson