U.K. Cherub Nationals 1992

Rock Sailing Club is a mile or two inside the Camel Estuary in Cornwall. Although the Estuary seems wide at low tide, there are extremely large sand banks, and racing is effectively tide bound. To make matters worse the club was not interested in holding racing out to sea since the Camel has a fairly nasty bar (unlike the club, which has quite a nice, if extremely expensive, one). Racing was thus very limited by the available space, especially on the days where the wind didn't blow down the river.

Force 3ish, very variable, some quite solid gusts. The wind was across the river, and the height of cliffs etc. made some big differences to wind strength and direction round the course. A rather disconsolate Guy Lewington was standing on the shore waiting for his boat to arrive. Understanding dawned when he revealed that he had foolishly allowed Dave Roe to tow it down. Dave was in a traffic jam in the Okehampton Area. The course consisted of a short beat followed by a very long and variable spinnaker reach down the river, with a couple of fetches and a short beat back to the start. A port biased line and a lot of cramming saw some problems, with Andy Paterson capsizing in the confusion. First to show was Will Perrett, who led round the windward mark, followed by Graham Dickenson, Jim Champ and John Lobb. These managed to get a bit clear of the bunch during the long reach, and continued in that order round the fetches and beats until the next long reach, where Jim capsized, letting just about everyone through! Bob Clements joined the first four, all of whom took the lead at one time or another as mistakes and capsizes took their toll. John Lobb took the lead on the last lap, and held it to the end, with good speed and consistent sailing. Clare Butler had started late (traffic!) but came through rapidly to come 5th.

The next day also saw the wind across the river, with a gusty 3-4. In fact the weather was continually gusty and shifty, so I'll not mention it further. A quiet first run saw Dave Roe slip away into a lead which he kept for the rest of the race. Behind him Graham took a secure 2nd place by virtue of a private puff of wind, with Clare, Guy and Bob battling out for 3rd. On the last leg, however, Steve Fisher in Slartibartfast came through after some brave kite flying on the tight reach, only to lose out yards from the line when Guy and Clare sailed over him in a gust to take 3rd and 4th.

Followed in similar conditions and a similar course. A large gust enlivened proceedings at the windward mark, and Will Perrett, who was in the lead, wiped out spectacularly when he hit the bottom! The next day Will was seen with a shorter daggerboard. The gust was big enough for some to delay hoisting kites until it was past, and Graham led at the next march as Dave & John Lobb attempted to hang on to kites. Dave took the lead on a subsequent reach and, again, Bob, Guy John and Clare were competing for 3rd. Clare eventually took third, and was pushing Graham hard for 2nd, followed by John, Bob and Guy.

Monday dawned (even) quieter, with the wind blowing down the river. The race officer was persuaded to set windward/leeward courses. The morning race suffered badly from wind with tide, but the tide turned for the second race which livened things up appreciably.

Andy Paterson and Clare went left, and gained appreciably, but rounded the mark the wrong way! John Lobb and Andy Horton were the real early leaders, followed by Guy, who got round the mark correctly at the second attempt! Dave and Graham came through on the run to join them having both started badly. Going left over the sandbank was definitely the way to go, and Dave and Graham pulled up to 2nd and 3rd on the water by this route. The final order over the line was Clare, Dave, Andy Paterson, Graham, but Clare and Andy had to retire. This single error cost Andy 3 places in the final results, and dropped Clare from a very close second to third overall.

Started in chaos after the gun and flag went a minute early. Dave and Jim, who were nicely lined up for port end starts, were not impressed. Against all rules the Race Officer just kept the clock running for another 5 minutes rather than starting a new start sequence, and the resulting start was less than organised, most people having stopped their watches ready for a new 10 minute gun. The changed tide meant a different route up the beat, and amongst others Ian Praine was well in evidence. Andy Paterson and Graham tangled and capsized at the windward mark, and the first actually round were Dave, Clare and Jim. Dave and Clare got well away down the run, and finished in that order. At the next windward rounding Graham got through to third after Jim and John Lobb tangled. Jim then managed to capsize at the last mark, and John took fourth place, with Will Perrett fifth. The course was set across and at right angles to the stretch of water that the local Sailing School were using, which led to a great many near misses. Closest of all was the learner who tacked just as Jim was coming down the reach, flat out on the trapeze, and lined up to pass a few feet aft of her transom. The sight of a bowsprit heading straight for her skull before they managed to luff up and miss her is one that Danny and Jim will not forget for a long time.

The last day was even quieter on the wind front, with the sea breeze apparently fighting the land breeze. Off the club the contest was more or less a dead heat, but the racing was set just round the corner in the next bay, where the sea breeze was winning. In order to get there most ended up paddling through the shallows towing their boats. The big advantage was that the shorter course did not cross the learners' sailing area.

Started in very light airs from a starboard biased line and a strong downwind tide. This allowed Graham to hang onto the inner distance mark and command pole position. Consequently just about the whole fleet formed a moderately orderly queue behind him with the exception of Dave Roe who ended up doing turns after hitting both Graham and the mark. As a result Graham was first round the windward mark, with Andy Paterson second and Will, Clare and John also well up there. By the second lap the lightweights were coming through, with Andy leading from Will and Clare, and Dave rapidly nearing the front group. Clare sailing into a commanding lead, and Graham managed to get back to second, with Dave, Andy and Will following. Overall Graham was now secure in second, ahead of Clare, and Dave only needed a 4th place to win.

With the race finish scheduled for past 6, and a long drive beckoning, most of those booked to work the next day dipped out of this race. Also out was poor Will, who got t-boned by a port tack Hobie cat which was being cruised about in a less than capable manner. The race followed a similar pattern to the last, although the changing tide provided a little more wind. There was a big bunch at the windward mark, but Clare found a private puff to make off downwind with a big lead. Dave soon followed to take second, and the Championship, while towards the end Guy managed to break free of the pack for third. A battle between Graham Andy and Bob ended up with Graham coming out narrowly ahead, with Andy 5th and Bob 6th.

This was the hardest fought Nationals for some years, with aggressive starting, numerous port & starboard incidents, and even the odd protest flag seen flying. Numerous people were left saying “What if”, notably Clare and Simon, whose lost win cost them second place. Both Jim Champ and Andy Paterson, veterans of 40 and 50 boat Nationals back in the late 70s, commented that they'd actually had better overall placing back then, with far less competitive boats, than they managed here. To be fair to Andy, his lowly position was more to do with having to count a retired than anything else. The writer has no such excuse… The general standard of sailing in the fleet certainly seems much higher than it was back then.

Jim Champ much assisted by Graham Dickenson

Sail No Helm Crew Design C1ub Race 1 Race 2 Race 3 Race 4 Race 5 Race 6 Race 7 Total
2637 Norwegian Blue Dave Roe Helen Marsh Italian Bistro LOSSC 21 1 1 1 1 3 2 8
2647 Fubar Graham Dickenson Owen Dickenson Italian Bistro Llangorse SC 2 2 2 2 3 2 4 13
2645 Cheese Before Bedtime Claire Butler Simon Roberts Dog One LOSSC 5 4 3 21 2 1 1 15.5
2652 Dangerous When Wet John Lobb Martin Harrison Flying Trifle Royal Victoria YC 1 8 4 8 4 7 7 30.75
2705 Flat Stanley Guy Lewington Nick Mason Murray mod Snow Frensham Pond SC 21 3 6 6 6 8 3 32
2646 Madge Allsop Will Perrett Martyn Clark Italian Bistro LOSSC 4 12 10 3 5 5 21 39
2644 Suicide Blonde Andrew Horton Kate Horton Italian Bistro Northants SC 7 7 9 4 7 6 9 40
2642 No Sense No Feeling Bob Clements Alan Attlebury Italian Bistro Nat West SC 3 9 5 5 12 13 6 40
2628 Slartibartfast Steve Fisher Darren Fisher Robinson 4 8 5 8 7 9 12 21 49
2650 Erik the Blob Andy Paterson Pat Paterson Paterson 6 Gurnard SC 6 6 21 21 10 4 5 52
2610 Rock Lobster Duncan Barr Murray 10 10 11 9 13 10 8 58
2641 Halo Jones Danny Johnson Jim Champ Italian Bistro Datchet SC 11 11 7 10 8 11 21 58
2649 Dangerous Strawberry Ian Praine Stuart Coles Italian Bistro Weston SC 9 13 21 11 11 9 21 74
2617 Excalibur Paul Anderson Forman 8 14 14 13 12 14 16 11 78
2627 Thievin'Gypsies Martin Goodlad Deeley 5 13 15 12 13 15 15 21 83
2547 Vitalstatistix Nick Spens Claire Spens Forman 8 Weir Wood SC 12 21 21 16 21 14 10 94
2412 Ticket to Ride Charles Osmond Ellway 1 16 21 18 14 16 19 14 97
2534 Bad to the Bone Neal Cardno Deeley 2 21 17 14 17 18 17 15 98
2425 Tiny Dancer Dave Culver Botting 15 16 17 18 21 20 12 98
2512 The Aircraft Carrier Adrian Scott Sandy Collough Ellway 2 21 21 16 21 17 18 13 106
2605 Montague Egg Danny Kemble 21 21 15 15 21 21 21 114

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