Skip to content

2024 Marblehead Nationals Datchet Water – Report and Results

Datchet water or Queen Mother reservoir is one of the main reservoirs for London and a feeder reservoir for the Queen Mary reservoir down the road. It is like a giant saucer with the sides upwards of 60 feet above the ground. Whilst on the one hand you have a clear view or everything around you when you stand at the club, from Heathrow airport to Windsor Castle. If you are a plane spotter, the venue is perfect as you get a plane landing or taking over every few minutes and you can almost reach out and touch them.

On the other hand, the elevation can influence the wind as it rises up the sides of the reservoir and rolls over the top. The favourite direction is a South Westerly where the wind blows from across the reservoir, creating waves of up to half a metre high. Sadly, the wind did not play ball and decided to blow from the North making our race officer’s (Hugh McAdoo) weekend a bit of a nightmare as the wind flicked by over 45 degrees all day on Saturday and then had us transferring from one side of the clubhouse to the other and back again on Sunday.

This year’s event celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first Marblehead Nationals held at the Elstead Moat. In fact, four of the competitors this year were at that first event. Derek Priestley, John Cleave, Roger Stollery and Peter Stollery who was not yet out of a pram. It was great to see them all looking so well.

29 competitors arrived to a cold chilly wind from the North (ish). Poor Derek Priestley (our MYA President) clad in shorts and a T shirt, left warm sunny Fleetwood (up north) in glorious warm sunshine, expecting the south to be even better, to be greeted by cloud and cold. Assume nothing with the weather.

After the briefing, the seeding races for 2 heats got underway on a slightly one-sided course. We sailed all day on the north side of the clubhouse. Conditions were B rig most of the day. Craig Richards and Peter Stollery laid down a marker both winning their races. After 6 races, Craig Richards had the best score with four firsts and a seventh, closely followed by Matteo Longhi from Italy, Darin Ballington, Chris Harris, Patrice Montero, Peter Stollery and Graham Bantock. This was going to be a very open championship with the winner likely decided in the final race from this group. In fact at this point any one of the top 8 could win the event.

On the Saturday night Graham and Elaine Hetem put on an excellent barbeque enjoyed by all who stayed, while they caught up with old friends and talked over what might have been over a beverage or two. A lovely evening with a balcony looking out over the reservoir. If only the sun had shone.

In the chase on the Sunday there were mixed fortunes for the top challengers. Matteo Longhi struggled in the final races posting 11, 9, 8, 2 and ended 4th. Chris Harris had a strong run to the finish posting 4, 1, 2, 6 but would finish 3rd. Craig fell off the pace in the last 3 races with 17, 7, 7, 4 to finish 2nd which allowed Darin Ballington to take the win finishing 10, 3, 1, 3. Hats off to Darin who sailed beautifully and deserved the win in such a tight finish. In fact in the last race when lying 5th, which would have put him joint winner with Craig, he sniffed out a right hand shift on one of the beats which took him to 3rd, good enough to put him 2 points clear of the fleet.

If you looked at the scoring for the top, after 10 races, 9 points separated the top 7 and only 5 points separated the top 5. 3rd to 5th position were all on equal points.

This was an incredibly difficult weekend for the race management team. On Sunday with a forecast that would be perfect for a course on the north side of the clubhouse, the wind decided to ignore the forecast and stubbornly remained in the North so after a couple of attempts at starting and many general recalls, the fleet decamped to the South side of the club house where we got a couple of races in. At long last the wind decided it was time to follow the forecast and shift to the northwest, so we all moved back to the north side to get some decent racing in although the wind was still unpredictable in direction. Who would be a race officer. Hugh we thank you for suffering the wroth of the wind this weekend.

Events like these would never happen without a host of volunteers. Our thanks go to:
Hugh McAdoo, PRO
Phil Holliday, Organiser
Vernon Appleton
Steve Manbitt
Martin Crysell
Dave Lindsay
Dave Adam
Howard Shawyer
Tristan Becket Boatman
Richard Jones Scoring

We were grateful to see Matteo Longhi from Italy, Patrice Montero from France and Chris Vaes from Holland. We hope to see you next year and trust you enjoyed the hospitality as well as the racing.

At the prizegiving, presented by Datchet’s Commodore Jeremy Bennett. Darin thanked all the organisers and highlighted how the competition was held in such a great atmosphere and sportsmanship. It was so close that anyone of the top 5 could have won.

Next year we have the world championships in France. Will the winner come from the UK?

Back To Top