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Marblehead Ranking 2 and 3 Fleetwood 6th/7th April 2024 Report and Results

The M class ranking was held at the mecca of radio and vane sailing. With the lake 800 feet long, step count was guaranteed to be high and some reached 26000 steps by the end of day 1 and a meagre 16000 steps on day 2. An exhausting weekend.

At the start of last week, the forecast was dreadful, with storm Kathleen due to drive high winds and rain across the region. Imagine our surprise when we arrived on Saturday morning to find that the wind was not extreme and there was a large patch of blue sky in the Irish sea which moved over Fleetwood and stayed there for the day. It was more like the Spanish riviera than the north of England. Initially the wind was across the lake, over tall buildings, with a course set to give a fast shy reach to a windward mark and spreader at the far end of the lake and then 3 zig zags across the lake to give a semblance of a beat. Because of the wind the 18 boats were split into two heats but the wind gradually shifted so our RO could set a windward leeward course up and down the lake and we could race as one fleet. Racing was spectacular, fast and furious with some tricky mark rounding’s and maximum concentration was required to manage the shifting wind conditions.

In between racing, an endless supply of tea, coffee, cakes and sandwiches was available. It was do it yourself all weekend but was so appreciated by the competitors.

On Saturday night Derek had booked a table at the North Euston Hotel for all the competitors where stories and tall tales of the racing were told. A great evening and thank you Derek for organising

Events were kept under control by our hard-working race team. Our thanks to all of them for what must have been a long tiring weekend for our pleasure:
Paul Middleton, PRO
Eric Austwick, Line
Peter Isles, Boat
Bob Jolly, HMS scoring
Derek Priestley, Advisor

Also, our thanks to Gillian Pearson for some great photography and slow-motion pictures.

Onto the racing. On Saturday morning we sailed in two heats with 4 up 4 down (I think). The top of the fleet was full of champions and early on the main fight appeared to be between Martin Roberts and Brad Gibson. Chris Harris, Darin Ballington and Austin Guerrier all had their moments of glory but none could match the consistency of Brad Gibson who won 11 of the 15 races. As Brad mentioned at the prize giving for Saturday Martin Roberts was sailing in a 16-year-old Starkers Squared. One observer watched Brad for 4 races to try and understand how he got so much more out of his boat. He commented that Brad was rarely on the wrong side of a wind shift, was constantly adjusting sheeting and steering always sailing faster than most and never got into trouble. A lesson to us all.

After lunch the wind shifted so that a windward leeward course could be set up and down the lake. The start was heavily port biased but you did not want to be at that end as there was the chance of getting stuck in a large hole. You could start on starboard but that meant an early tack and that was slow. The trick was to start on port and take a chance to find a gap. If you got it right, you had a lead over the fleet. The game then was to work up the right-hand side of the course where the wind was more reliable and large port tack lifts were available. A big wind hole caught any who tried to work their way up the left side of the course. The same applied on the run, i.e. keep on the left side of the lake as far from the buildings as possible to find the steadier breeze.

The above tactics set the trend for the weekend. On Saturday we started on C rigs and then changed to B and back to C. On Sunday we started on C3 and dropped to C2, back to C3 and then finished on C2. Competitors watched each other like hawks so that one could choose the rig of the majority.

Despite the long drive for us southerners (thankfully with no traffic jams on the return) it is always a pleasure to sail at Fleetwood. Good breezes, competition, well run racing and loads of sunshine.

Thank you Fleetwood and well done Brad.

Fleetwood ranking saturday
Fleetwood ranking Sunday
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