Cherub National Championships 1977 – Dabchicks SC

Transcribed by Neil C from the report in Yachts & Yachting

Sailing a brand new boat, 2550 “Hot Dog”, that had only been sailed for half an hour before the championship week, David Finch and Peter Lavender won the Cherub National Championship by a small margin over Tony and Jill Hows in 2450 “Easter Beagle”.

Hosted this year by the Dabchicks SC at West Mersea, Essex, the event attracted 34 competitors from all over the UK, and the standard of racing was generally high. Dabchicks, hosting their first national championship meeting, responded with faultless organisation afloat and ashore, with the courses in particular being praised by the Cherub helmsmen. The first race on Monday, held in a Force 4 wind with some squalls, saw Tony and Jill Hows really screaming along in “Easter Beagle”, with their windward speed gaining them a dramatic early lead. They managed to fight off a determined challenge by “Hot Dog”, and retained their lead, albeit considerably lessened at the gun.

On Tuesday, “Easter Beagle” again shot away to windward to take an early lead, but “Hot Dog”, finding more speed all the time, successfully challenged and passed the Hows to take the finishing gun with a narrow lead.

Wednesday’s race was started in light airs, and brought the light weather expert Chris Forman, crewed by Nick Mason to the fore in “Green Bubbles”; but as the wind increased, Forman dropped back, and the race became another struggle between committed rivals “Easter Beagle” and “Hot Dog”. They exchanged places several times during the long course, but the climax came on the last beat. “Hot Dog”, leading both “Easter Beagle” and “Sciamachy”, sailed by David and Shiona Babcock, was faced with a choice of boat to cover as “Sciamachy”, and “Easter Beagle” split tacks. David Finch elected to cover “Sciamachy”, a mistake that was to prove decisive. “Easter Beagle”, footing well to weather in clear air, piucked up a favourable shift, freed their sheets and powered acrossthe line for a nail-biting finish a fraction ahead of “Hot Dog.

There was jubilation in the “Easter Beagle” camp that night, and the following day’s race gave them further cause to celebrate, despite the pouring rain. Held in Force 3-4 winds, it was convincingly won by Tony and Jill Hows over their old rivals David Finch and Peter Lavender. On Friday the competitors were greeted by a spanking Force 5 wind which, blowing against the tide, gave some difficult conditions. “Easter Beagle”, feeling their lack of crew weight, turned over while chasing “Hot Dog”, and this put the Hows well behind Finch and Lavender – which was just as well, for “Easter Beagle” was later disqualified for being over the line at the start.

So the overall championship was all down to Saturday’s race, which promised to be a needle match between “Easter Beagle” and “Hot Dog”. Finch and Lavender, having found very good boat speed, supported this with excellent boat-handling and superior tactics to take the last race, and the overall championship, by a small margin, in a race which gave the committee a big headache when the wing mar floated off down-river, lifted by the north, wind-boosted spring tides. It was eventually decided to finish the competitors on the beating leg after the sausage section of the course, but only after much head-scratching and breast-beating aboard the committee boat.

Report by Tim Wood.


  • 1st “Hot Dog” (David Finch and Peter Lavender, Queen Mary SC).
  • 2nd “Easter Beagle” (Tony and Jill Hows, Queen Mary SC).
  • 3rd “Sciamachy” (David and Shiona Babcock, Stewartby Water SC).

“Hot Dog”, designed by Ian Duke and built by Spithead Boats, set Dolphin sails on a new-section Holt mast and Needlespar boom. She was simply rigged, with a clean, functional layout and no gadgets for their own sake.

“Easter Beagle”, a joint design between Ian Duke and her owner, Tony Hows, built by Spithead Boats, carried a Holt main and jib with a Banks spinnaker on a Holt/Needlespar rig.

David Babcock, sailing his owner-designed “Sciamachy”, favoured Dolphin/Banks sails set on a Needlespar mast and boom.

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