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Marblehead National Championships 2023 Report and Results

Marblehead National Championships 2023, Weecher Reservoir, Keighley 16-17 September

The Weecher Reservoir is situated 256 feet above sea level on the edge of Ilkley Moor. For those down South it is a 5 hour drive up the M1 but it is well worth it for the sailing over two days.

The Marblehead is one of the nicest radio sailing yachts. It is a dream to sail, is fast, well balanced and exciting to race and to watch racing.

On Friday the Datchet team arrived at 1pm and ominously Craig Richard sailing an F6, was practicing from 1-5pm. With three National/Global events under his belt this year (DF95 Global, IOM Nationals, DF95 Nationals), could he snatch a fourth title. Other leading contenders for the crown were Darin Ballington, Austin Guerrier, Nigel Winkley form Germany, Graham Bantock and Peter Stollery.

The forecast for racing was 13-to 25 mph but we were treated on Saturday morning with strong gusts across the lake and C3 rig conditions which we kept with all day. 15 races were completed by the end of the day giving the 18 competitors a good work out. On Saturday my phone counted 19000 steps for the day and on Sunday where the walk was slightly shorter, 11000 steps.

Armed with C3 rigs and the occasional C2, racing got underway just after 10am on Saturday. Immediately Darin and Craig locked horns and finished first and second with Craig taking the win, but as the day progressed, Darin’s consistency won through to lead by 20 points to Craig’s 36. Darin was incredibly unlucky in one race where he was leading by a long way only to have his jib sheet wrap round the jib boom at the last mark and then had to retire. Chasing hard were Austin, Nigel W and Graham and new to the Marblehead, Rohan Williams from Datchet who showed excellent turns of speed.

On Saturday night, we retreated to the “The Dick Hudsons” where we shared stories on the highs and lows of the day and what if stories. Most of us were showing signs of fatigue from the long drive and a long day of walking up and down the side of the reservoir along with huge concentration on the racing.

Sunday dawned with the moors shrouded in cloud and on driving to the reservoir I wondered if we would be able to see our boats. Thankfully the mist slowly cleared, and the day remained dry with patches of sun showing later in the day.

All eyes were on Darin and Craig, the latter was first on the water practicing and focusing on boat set up. The big question was to use the larger swing A rig or conventional B as at time the wind was on the limit of the swing rig. When the PRO decided on an experimental downwind start, the decision was made for us and all chose the swing A rig to get the best speed on the run. After that we returned to conventional windward start and most switched to the B rig. Craig opened the scoring with 1,1,2,1 and stamped his authority on the event. Darin could not continue the stellar performance from day one but gave chase to the winning machine in the form of Craig. Graham Bantock finished the podium heading off the challenge from Austin Guerrier. Behind these there was the battle of the Nigel’s in the form of Barrow and Winkley, the latter who had travelled all the way from Germany to compete. Nigel W was slightly more consistent and won this minor battle

Congratulations to Craig Richards who has taken all the major trophies this year bar the 10r and Radio A class which has yet to be held (and yes he has borrowed a boat for that too). He competed in an F6 powered by Redant sails and showed exceptional speed. It was good to see a mix of designs in the top 10. F6, Grunge, Quark, Niou Niou, Up and Starkers Cubed

The Tots trophy for the 6 teams drawn from the top middle and bottom of the fleet after race 3 went to Craig, Austin and Oliver Stollery

Oldest boat trophy went to Oliver Stollery’s Starkers Cubed.

These events would never happen without dedicated volunteers and our many thanks go to John Tushingham as organiser and PRO with his wife Liz who supplied us with free teas, coffee and cake all weekend. John Sharman was Assistant RO and Mick Dunn and John Blackburn manned the rescue boat:

Our thank also go to Colin Harper who could not attend but donated his entry fee to a good cause. That meant cakes for all the competitors and of course a Colin the caterpillar cake would feature. If you have never read about Colin the Caterpillar wars in the supermarkets, there is a great article in the Guardian. Just search “Colin the Caterpillar wars”. It’s a great story.

The next Marblehead Ranking event will be held November 18-19 at Manor Park, with the Vane, Marblehead National Championships on the 21-22 October.

2nd place Darin Ballington
3rd place Graham Bantock
4th Place Austin Guerrier
5th Place Nigel Winkley
6th place Nigel Barrow

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