The UK Cherub is a two-person 12 foot racing dinghy with asymmetric spinnaker and twin trapezes. Just twelve feet long, weighing around 70kgs fully rigged for sailing, the UK Cherub combines spectacular performance with the “on the edge” handling characteristics only found in true lightweight skiffs.

The UK Cherub rules are simple and allow for maximum flexibility for designers, allowing boats to be created to incorporate sailor's own ideas. Also meaning the class develops over time as techniques, materials and ideas improve. All this makes the Cherub one of the most interesting and innovative of all dinghies: The challenge extends from the sailing skills to setting up the boat to suit the sailor, and maybe even designing and building, too.

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Lake Bassenthwaite

The Cherub Inland Championships (held amid the Great North Asymmetric Challenge) were hotly contested by a whole two cherub teams at Bassenthwaite Sailing Club last weekend: Jamie Pearson and Martin Denchfield in Poppy, and a thrown together team of Alex Harris and Rosie Williamson in A&E. The long trip north meant an early arrival on the Friday night was in order, along with pizza, drinks, and a battle with the tent in the rain for Alex and Rosie.

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A leisurely start on the Saturday morning left plenty of time to rig and get through an excellent breakfast bun. After the obligatory “Are they meant to be rigged on their side?”, “Why doesn’t it have a halyard?” and “Do all Cherubs foil?” (upon which we had to regretfully tell them that the hacksaw was coming for A&E), the 70-odd boats set sail for the first race. Jamie and Martin must have had too much time to think over how to rig a kite, as they promptly realised that they’d set it up completely wrong and decided to sit out the first race. Rosie, having never stepped in any kind of foiling boat before, took to it like a duck to water in its literal sense, that is, A&E went swimming more than once per lap and so didn’t fare much better. The wind over the trees and hills and across the width of the lake meant for more, short laps, and the shifty and gusty conditions meant that they never got up on the foils upwind. Jamie and Martin came back into race 2 but struggled to break free of the 400s and ended up mid-fleet, still doing much better than Team A&E who had reduced their capsize average, only capsizing twice in 3 laps.

Race 3 saw Jamie and Martin kick into gear with a radical decision to duck the fleet on port at the start, but it paid off as they found themselves in 4th and in much clearer wind behind the VX1s and the 59er. In the final race of the day, Team Poppy took a similar decision but were forced to tack earlier than they wanted. It worked out in the end though as they were lifted straight to the top mark at full power. They very kindly let VX1 be their snow plough through the slow fleet for the downwind leg and then overtook for the gate mark, only to find that a number of general recalls for the second flight meant that they were all stacked up for their final minute on the start line – which the fast flight needed to go through! Considerately, instead of skewering a bunch of 200s and Fevas, Team Poppy dumped it in and called it a day. Throughout all this, Team A&E were steadily improving, but still not getting going upwind. Between that and fact that there were two crews in the boat (leading to a number of overstood laylines), they consistently sat between 30-40th. At the end of day one, it was fair to say that Jamie and Martin had a comfortable lead.

BSC put on a fantastic evening of pies, drink, and music that night, which was much appreciated. In true Cherub style Jamie, Rosie and Martin took to the dancefloor and showed the rest of the competitors how it was done. Rumour has it that Jamie danced the night away until 2am, which couldn’t possibly have been why he was slightly less than enthusiastic for sailing the next day. Sunday dawned a much better day for the Cherubs, with the wind from the ESE and funnelling down the length of the lake, making the course much longer and the wind far more stable. Team A&E got straight up on the foils upwind, which was a new learning curve for Rosie. Between that and the tendency to tack onto every header, they never managed to escape the 400s and plonked for another mid-fleet result. The groggy start from Team Poppy seemed to be deceptive as they steamed ahead for another 4th. In the second race, the training wheels came off; Team A&E sailed cleanly through to a 2nd overall despite the wind dropping in the final lap. Jamie and Martin struggled with the 400s this time, and somewhat overstood the top mark leading to a dubious two-sail reach and tack under scenario. After that they canned it in and went for a nice warm shower and to shelter from the incoming rain. Still riding high, Alex and Rosie managed to bag a 3rd overall in the third race which they were pretty chuffed with. With the wind beginning to drop and Rosie’s energy flagging, they also decided to call off the last race and get a headstart on the journey home. Having pulled a couple of good results (finally!) and having stayed out for a couple more races, Alex and Rosie managed to take the lead (ranking 34th overall) from Jamie and Martin (who came in at 46th).

Conditions were tricky on the Saturday but the great weather on the Sunday showed a foiling A&E at its best – a perfect swan song. The event was really well run, so our many thanks to the club and all who made it possible.



Well done to Phil and Carol Alderson for winning the 2023 Cherub Nationals at South Shields Yacht Club. In a home built boat!

Nationals report 2023 - South Shields

A diminished number of Cherubs gathered T’up north due to many family and personal matters occurring across the fleet. Nevertheless we set ourselves the goal of having fun, enjoying our boats and brightening the day of all who we met! South Shields is a lovely club with many lovely people.

Day 1 - Relatively sunny and warm (ish)

A very soft committee boat was not enough to entice the Harris brothers to start conventuly, Race 1 was off with them doing a port end flyer and getting up on to the foils and away from the fleet. Team Poppy took the lead with A&E failing to tack and regain their upwards momentum to the foils dropping them back to 5th, Ronin recovered from a terrible start (but as a scratch pairing, not too bad!) to pick their way through the fleet to finish third! Just behind Eleanor!

Race 2, Dave decided he wanted to be a fisherman so took up lobster potting at the pin end of the start line as the gun went. Note for Dave (helm of Eleanor) T foils are best used in the water and without a rope around them!) Back to the racing - Poppy and Zero Gravitas crash tacked on to port at the pin/Eleanor and had some work to keep up wit the fleet, Ronin was pushing on fast and ready to catch the fleet with their trousers round their ankles. Poppy, Zero Gravitas and Eleanor were found to have rather substantial suspenders. Ronin finished in fourth.

Race 3 and people were getting cocky. Zero Gravitas and Poppy were shown the individual recall flag so went back for a loop.Elanor snuck off with Ronin until Poppy came to crash the party with some excessive downwind speed.

Evening entertainment was a self cook BBQ with many interesting discussions about how the world is bananas shaped, and a few explanations of how sheep's bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes

Day 2 - Grey, cold, miserable, It is the north sea!

Race 4 A&E launched and forgot to use their bungs so made a crafty detour to the beach - no ice cream - but a slightly lighter boat - Tis but a flesh wound Zero Gravitas struggled to make the pin end of the start because of the tide, after tacking and ducking half the fleet they realised that right hand race track upwind was the way to go. Having lots of practice sailing in dreich(rainy ) conditions ZG won the drag race to the correct side of the course on the first beat to take the win, Poppy was bamboozled with wet tell tails Eleanor, got caught with the rest of the fleet all stiving for the middle of the line. Poppys kite block at the top of the mast decided to depart from duty only 5 Meters off the finish line, oh how they laughed as Martyn, the crews crossed the line on the foredeck with the kite in his arms.

Race 5 Much of the same after everyone realised it was a biassed course with the tide. Made brighter with Ronin who decided they wanted to go for a swim with the kite up allowing A&e to sneak third position, poppy started the race after on their side fixing kite blocks and recovered up to 5th

Race 6: Rossa got out of the start well and had a good first leg but spinnaker problems meant they couldn't capitalise. Zero Gravitas and Poppy were too busy match racing to realise the tide had changed and going left up the beat was the correct way to go, A&e snuck through on the final lap to take a win just ahead of Poppy and ZG.

Day 2 finished with Poppy still leading and Eleanor and zero Gravitas both trailing by two points and much fun in the class AGM - ‘GET ON WITH IT’

Day 3 - A year passed: winter changed into spring, spring changed into summer, summer changed back into winter, and winter gave spring and summer a miss and went straight on into autumn…Something had really happened overnight as the north sea was not happy. Still grey and rainy

Race 7: Blimey, what was that?! Wind, waves, tide all coming from different angles Add to that rain in a new axis. It was a perfect day to be a fish. Getting off the shore through the break was a challenge for all. With a the fleet helping each other off the sand and in/through the waves

For the sailing: it is hard to describe in words how strange the conditions were. Inside the harbour, lovely at the committee boat, incredibly wavy in the second half of the course. The tide was ripping out through the entrance along with most of the rain that fell the night before. At the top it was as pokey as a stick. Pure magic and mayhem in one.

A&E, Zero Gravitas and Poppy slugging it out and Ronin occasionally showing up to keep us all faithful.

Race 8: Much the same as race 7, Zero Gravitas leading the way, A&E Trying to foil in the troughs of the waves and not over the top. Poppy just trying to get round the course with a poorly crew

Race 9: The wind had built more for the last start and with first place still up for grabs the three remaining boats all hit the start together.

The Cherub class would like to thank south shields for an amazing event in spectacular conditions, Phil and Carol alderson for winning the nationals and being great ambassadors for the class spending time with everyone and passing on lots of hard learned knowledge along the way

But not the Harris brothers of A&E as ‘he who comes third, no more, no less Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, shall write the report’

Maybe I shouldn’t watch Monty Python The Holy Grail before writing reports?

Position Sail Number Boat Name Helm Crew Race Results Total Points Net Points
1 3218 Zero Gravitas Phil Alderson Carol Alderson (4), 2, (4), 1, 1, 3, 2, 1, 2 20 12
2 3216 Poppy Jamie Pearson Martyn Denchfield 1, 1, 2, (3), (5), 2, 3, 2, 3, 22 14
3 3215 A&E Jonny O'Connor Alex Harris (5), (5), 5, 5, 3, 1, 1, 3, 1, 29 19
4 3218 Eleanor Dave Ching Oliver Goolden 2, 4, 1, 2, 2, 4, 7 DNF, (8 DNC), (8 DNC) 38 22
5 2698 Ronin Nathan McGrory Tom Hole 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, (7 RET), 5 RET, (8 RET) 42 27
6 3219 Rossa Roland Trim Marco Capra 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 7 DNF, (8 DNC), (8 DNC) 59 43
7 2655 Monkey Magic Nick Woodhouse Miles Lilley (8 DNC), (8 DNC), 8 DNC, 7, 7, 7, 8 DNC, 8 DNC, 8 DNC 69 53
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