Club: Datchet Water Radio Sailing Club Class: International Marblehead Date: Novemberber 18-19 2023 Author: Richard…
A July event at Datchet Water Radio Sailing Club quite often involves a depleted water level (it’s a main feeder reservoir for London) and gentle summer breeze. This reporter hadn’t taken much notice of the weather forecast, and only on the evening before the event did it become apparent that the Mid July calendar date at Datchet Water Sailing Club for MYA Marblehead Ranking 3 & 4 may not be as expected. The headline numbers of 20+ mph wind coming from the South West were not exceptional but the gusts of 40kts plus were something to take note of, and previous experience of Datchet in high winds meant that skippers arrived with a mix of excitement and trepidation.
For those who have not experienced Datchet first hand, it is a raised concrete bowl of around 1 mile diameter with the club house and radio sailing area at one “end” of the bowl and nothing to stop the wind for many miles. The direction meant that the course was at the downwind end of the bowl, so even at 8.30am the white horses coming down the lake were creating a rolling swell that when they hit the concrete edges turned into a large reverberation chop.
Still, the sun was out, and the skippers were fed and watered ready for the day.
Early launchers could be seen out on the water, blasting across the lake, bouncing over the waves up wind and dipping their noses in when turning downwind, those on the bank hastily removed their C2 rigs and started to attach their C3’s. Anyone not familiar with the class may not be away that we are allowed up to 6 rigs, ranging from A down to C with incremental reductions in size. Most skippers will carry A to C2, those who compete regularly will also carry a C3, and the dedicated international skipper will usually have a smaller size, oddly designated as B2, for the most extreme conditions. Most people’s B2 rigs have many more miles in the boot of the car than hours on the water as by the time the breeze is strong enough for this rig to be used the race team have deemed it unsuitable for racing.
The Saturday race team of Hugh McAdoo (PRO), Richard and Janice Uttley, Vernon Appleton and Les Thorn called the skippers to a briefing before racing commenced just after 10.00am. Competitors Colin Harper and Graham Hetem did not last the 1st race due to varying issues, but the other 12 competitors had the first of series of fast, close and exciting races, the designs represented all having similar speeds with the ability to tack at the right time, and survive the gusts being the more important aspects of a decent result. Mike Bennett (DWSC) and Vernon were kept busy in the boat, retrieving errant boats, and dealing with the odd entanglement. Nothing too serious, although some skippers spent Saturday evening with string, carbon and glue repairing ready for Sunday. Of the skippers racing Saturday, Darin Ballington was the most consistent, with Graham Bantock, Tony Edwards and Austin Guerrier chasing hard. Others had good races but these four were the pick of the fleet. It was good to see Martin Crysell back in the fleet and Barrie Martin performing well in the conditions.
Race 9 saw the breeze build, and a few dropped down to their B2 rigs ready for race 10, unfortunately the conditions by now were so difficult that the boat crew were struggling to deal with any entanglements and launching/retrieving boats was becoming dangerous on the bucking jetty. Regrettably, but probably correctly, Hugh called proceedings to a halt around 3.15pm after race 10.
In the totting up of the scores, Darin took the victory by a reasonable margin from Graham Bantock, Tony, and Austin.
Race victories in the day went to:
Darin: 4, Graham: 4, Tony: 1, Austin: 1
Scores on the doors for MYA Marblehead Ranking 3:
Ranking 4 was on Sunday and the breeze was predicted to be less than Saturday. At 1st light on Sunday, it did look considerably lower from the bedroom window. However, on arrival it was a similar strength and the same direction as Saturday, most started in C3, with a few managing to race in C2. Like the previous day the swell caused issues with tacking, leaping boats to windward and great surfing downwind. Craig Richards joining us for Sunday was loving it, the large breeze being more like his native South African conditions. Roger and Oliver Stollery joined him, along with Rohan Williams sailing his new boat for the 1st time, but we lost Graham Bantock, Dave Adams, Colin Harper, and Barrie Martin, with Martin Crysell joining the race team. Pete Stollery took over the RO duties, so we were down to 12 boats.
Rob Wilson, Nigel Barrow and Phil Holliday had been hard at work overnight to get their boats ship shape ready for the days sailing. All would complete the day but like others had to make running repairs.
The racing was even tighter than before, with many different race winners and despite regular breaks and rig changes Peter managed to complete 16 races.
Austin led the fleet home with a fantastic set of scores, discarding a 3rd position in his discards, only counting 1st, 2nd & 3rd positions on his card. Darin chased him hard but could not match this, with Tony Edwards 3rd and Roy Stevens having a good day and taking 4th place.
Ranking 4 also doubled up as the Met & Southern District Championship, which also went to Austin.
Race wins were spread amongst the fleet with:
Darin: 6, Austin: 4, Tony: 3, Craig: 2, Phil: 1
A special mention to Rohan who, although new to the class and sailing a brand-new boat held his own and demonstrated that he will soon be difficult to beat, and a mention also to Oliver Stollery who on being awarded a prize for best junior gave a very mature speech thanking all the volunteers in front of a proud Dad and Grandad. Oliver will be competing at the Nationals at Keighley later in the year (more details HERE) and will shock a few.
Final Positions for MYA Marblehead Ranking 4
Reports thanks to Darin Ballington