1986 U.K. Cherub National Championships

A small but select fleet of 18 boats gathered at Lymington on the Thursday morning for a four day Championship, shared with the International Moths. Only one boat has joined the fleet since the '85 Nationals: Rob Stephens' Bloodaxe built Paterson 4. However the infamous 'Heffalump' has undergone surgery at the hands of the Copes, and with a more Cherub-like transom and a new name, promised a better performance. All but two of the old-rules boats present sported new-rules rigs and were hoping to prove Bill Deeley right!

The first race on Thursday afternoon was postponed after a long wait while the race committee repeatedly checked the conditions out in the Solent. From the dinghy park, competitors could not imagine what the problem was, but using the powerful binoculars mounted in the clubhouse we were able to see that a Force 6 wind against tide was making sailing impossible, and indeed it transpired that the Committee boat was unable to keep on station. The local pub was busy as soon as it opened, with the Class Brewer in the lead.

Friday's weather was a great improvement and the fleet followed the Moths out of the harbour looking forward to a good day's racing. The course was set with the first beat against the tide, and the fleet headed for the shore at once for a tactical tide-dodging Solent-style race. However most of the competitors seemed to have missed the significance of the green flag on the committee boat and tactically and cunningly beat towards the wing mark. The grey heads of Perret and Edmonds set off into the tide for the correct mark, soon followed by a crowd of fast-reaching Cherubs, some of which had gone so far that they could fly spinnakers in an attempt to catch up. The Perv held a good lead for the rest of the race, which became a procession as the wind shifted, making the beat one-sided. However, as the tide slackened and the wind increased, Bill Deeley and David Roe took first and second places, Will holding Guy off for third. Perv sulkily abandoned his new jib in favour of the old rag.

After lunch ashore, the Cherubim returned to find classic Solent conditions: Force 5 against tide of about 3 knots! Starting was difficult from a poorly laid line, and the tide made the beat very fast, so the fleet seemed to spread out quickly. Most people were cautious on the first reach, but the Perv had something to prove and was quick to hoist the spinnaker, thus achieving brief but remarkable acceleration before the honour of the first capsize when Martyn was washed off the side. Dave Roe and others fell in at the gybe, and the race continued in conditions which were demanding, to say the least. Guy took line honours, with Bill Second and the Coopers third. I was too busy to see what the others did (so was I - Ed). [At the back of the fleet your Web site editor was sailing an antique and very poorly home-built (not by him) Forman 4c to what turned out to be destruction. We got back to the beach just as the bow tank finished filling with water from splits in the bow area!]

Saturday Morning's race started in a light SW wind, again with the first beat into the tide. Just at the gun the wind died, and several boats were held back by the current for a long time (in some cases 28 minutes!). Perv was the first to cross at the committee boat end, and fought for the lead with Graham Caws while short tacking up the shore. After some 35 minutes of this, the wind filled in and the leaders set out into the tide. Again some boats found that they had gone to far: spinnakers to the windward mark again. )Moral: Solent tides aren't really as strong as you think!). Perv established a lead for a round or so, but was caught by Kevin at the last leeward mark, then recovered (removing the sea-anchor of weed helped) to beat Kevin and Guy to the finish.

After a rest on the (prohibited) shingle banks, during which the Solent stopped rushing East and started rushing West without a pause in between, we returned to the starting area to watch the Moths demonstrate how not to start. When our turn came, we all showed our transoms to the line until the last seconds, and then made a dirty dart for glory. The combination of strong tide and light wind made racing very difficult, as Andy proved when he hit a mark and spent some time encouraging the tail enders. Simon made his journey from the frozen North worthwhile by leading the race from start to finish: a good advert when your boat is for sale! Perv showed good tactical skills to finish second, but couldn't do Simon., and Guy got another result with third.

Sunday Morning saw a change in the wind direction, a force 3 from the East giving hope to the four helmsmen who were in contention for the title (Perv, Bill, Guy and Dave). Unfortunately neither the author nor the Editor can remember any significant details of this race. Suffice to say, therefore, that at this stage, Guy clinched the title with a win, Dave Roe kept stuck in there in second place, and Kevin was third. Bill and Perv dogged out with 5th and 6th places respectively, particularly unforgivable for the Perv who had no excuse in his favoured conditions.

The postponed race from Thursday was held on Sunday afternoon. This started into the tide into a light breeze, but shortly after the start the wind shifted. Rupert and Graham had taken a port tack after the start and found themselves on the right side of the shift to head the fleet around the first mark. The wind shift made the reaches into a run and fetch, with a one sided beat. As the wind increased, Guy again powered into the lead, but the course didn't allow much in the way of tactical manoeuvres: it was another procession, with boatspeed the only significant differential. Guy ultimately won both the race and the Championship in convincing style, Andy was second, with Dave Roe, storming through somehow on the last fetch from nowhere to third, to take second overall.

The Nationals were well organised ashore and afloat, and the four day format pleased everyone. The first two boats were old rules hulls converted with new rigs, and did well in all conditions. Further down the fleet the new rigs were improving the performance of several older boats, and in general the racing was much closer than last year. Moral: You don't need a new boat to win. Interestingly, even in the lightest conditions, new-rules hulls weren't able to stamp any convincing authority on the proceedings and the speed differential evident a couple of seasons ago seems largely to have disappeared now that the best of the rest have converted to new rigs.

Dave Edmonds (Editor Will Perret)

Helm Crew Sail Name Design R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Total
Guy Lewington Alex Windsor 2705 Flat Stanley Mod. Murray 0.75 4 0.75 3 3 0.75 8.75
Dave Roe Wendy Barclay 2612 Old Peculier Ellway 3 3 2 4 4 7 2 15
Bill Deeley Alan Moore 2627 Last Amber Dragon Deeley 5 5 0.75 2 8 4 5 16.75
Will Perret Martyn Clark 2626 Perversion Ellway 4 6 3 9 0.75 2 6 17.75
Kevin Ellway Brett Ellway? 2630 Nelly Smuts Ellway 4 7 5 5 2 5 3 20
Andy Paterson   2623 Pxysysygy Paterson 3 2 6 6 7 9 4 25
Simon Robinson   2628 Slartibartfast Robinson 4 12 11 7 6 0.75 7 31.75
Alistair Cope Matthew Cope 2625 Wobbly-Eric Southcott 4 7 17 10 12 9 42
Rupert Bremer   2610 Charlie Don't Surf Murray 8 10 10 11 6 10 44
Graham Caws   2629 March Hare   10 16 15 5 8 8 46
Dave Edmunds Clare Edmunds 2607 Fallen Angel Forman 8 9 8 8 12 11 11 47
C Dandridge   2548 Woodstock   11 10 18 9 10 13 61
S. Cooper   2605 Montague Egg   18 16 3 13 13 17 62
Simon Roberts Kate Butler 2624 Rebel Howlett 18 13 15 19 17 14 78
I Brown   ? Blitz Forman 8 18 9 10 17 18 18 80
Annabel Stewart   2542 Thunderthighs & Mutley   18 12 18 17 18 17 82
  Jim Champ ? Angelina diGriz Forman 4b 18 18 15 18 18 18 87
Rob Stephens   2631   Paterson 4 18 18 17 19 17 18 88

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