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IOM National Championships – Poole Radio Yacht Club, May 4 to 6 2024

Report by Richard Ledger and Nigel Barrow

74 IOM sailors travelled from many UK clubs, plus visitors from foreign parts including France, The Netherlands and Fleetwood.

Friday’s registration and scrutineering went smoothly, with relatively few boats needing surgery to conform to weight targets. The wind blew a steady 10 to 12 mph which was perfect but we knew that was unlikely to be maintained but it was great for tuning.

We then arrived on Saturday morning to be greeted by a light, but fairly steady South-Easterly breeze, allowing a start line to be set directly up the lake until the trees stifled the wind after two-thirds distance. Several marks were laid, allowing a quick transition to any two from five as a windward and wing mark. The leeward gate was well positioned, and narrow enough to allow last-minute changes if the wind or traffic dictated. The 74 boats were split into 4 heats. In each heat the top 6 are promoted to the heat above and the bottom 6 demoted to the heat below. Approximately 22 boats race in each heat leading to plenty of action round the race course.

By the end of day one with five races completed, Peter Stollery had gained the advantage, with 6 points separating the top 5 contenders. The sun and wind stayed in relative abundance for the whole day, and we wished Peter Wiles, our PRO “May the fourth be with you” for the event! We all looked very healthy for our day on the South coast and enjoyed fish and chips with ice cream at the end of our first day of competition. The peak wind strength was around 17 MPH, mid-afternoon.

Sunday started with a reasonable South-Easterly wind, showing promise of a better strength, if slightly fickle direction. We started a 09:30, and we saw peaks of around 16 MPH, undulating during the day. This stayed up during the morning, but the direction switched between South and South-East. The same courses could be run, with quick adjustments where needed between races to allow for the changeable direction. An adventurous windward gate was tested, where the direction of travel was outside-in – this led to some consternation over the possibility for a “demolition Derby”, so after one flight this was not used again. The leeward gate remained, and helped to separate the fleet, especially when a building breeze compressed the boats at the bottom end of the course. There was a small amount of rain, but this did not kill the wind or our spirits! At the end of day two, Rob Walsh and Brad Gibson were level on points with Peter Stollery a point behind with Graham Elliot and Patrice Montero from France in touch. But for a couple of unfortunate misjudgements resulting in delaying contacts, Craig Richards would have been in amongst the leaders however all of the top six had a chance of winning the trophy.

Monday was a complete change of wind strength and direction, with rain threatening from late morning. The North / North-Westerly wind meant that we had the full length of Poole inner lake, with the added advantage that the spectators could watch the starts from the clubhouse / under the trees, and the start line could be longer if necessary. Early winds peaking at around 9 MPH, but when the rain came (in force) the wind faded. We continued to sail – no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing, and most competitors had the appropriate waterproofs to protect them. However, it became quickly evident that our motive force was rapidly disappearing, and Peter decided that as a complete flight could not be run, it was better to curtail everyone’s enjoyment slightly early. Brad Gibson dominated the day with four wins with those behind having there challenges.

We crammed into the Poole RYC clubhouse, still a little unsure of how the final results would unfold. Brad Gibson had remained consistent throughout the changing conditions and had sailed his newly built Post Punk to beat Rob Walsh and Peter Stollery, with Craig Richards in fourth. Derek Priestley sailing a borrowed boat won the veterans trophy finishing in 7th place.

Thirteen race flights were run over the three days, and there was a huge amount of “snakes and ladders” between fleets, with various competitors finding their luck leaving them at vital moments.

Huge congratulations to Brad Gibson – the team at Poole Radio Yacht Club hope that you all enjoyed your trip South and had a safe journey home. We look forward to hosting another prestigious IOM event again soon.

If there was a prize for the best-looking boat, it would go to Brad. Having taken the lessons from his moth excursion over the last few years, he was out to minimise windage on an experimental design of his own. It looked stunning on the water and the attention to detail impressive. At the prize giving, Brad mentioned that there had been no new UK designers launching boats since he launched the Britpop in 2011. He praised Ben Harker who has ploughed his own furrow with a 3D printed design of his own. For a nation that used to rule the waves we lack good designers of model yachts. Where are the creative ones.

One final point on designs, the top 20 was filled with Brad’s Post Punk, Britpop, Alioth, V11, Pop, SV, Azkiom, Severn. It does not matter which of the modern designs you have, with the right rig setup and skipper, these and other modern designs and a selection of older ones are all capable of doing well.

Prize Giving

Results

Next year the Nationals will be at Lincoln on either the 1st or 2nd May Bank holiday depending on when the Marblehead worlds in France will be held. As soon as we know the dates will be up on the MYA diary.

Photos by Malcolm Appleton, Nigel Barrow and Austin Guerrier

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