‘Champagne’ racing conditions on Saturday, heavy drizzle at times on Sunday and a count back on the final race to decide the overall winner certainly meant that the 2019 National Swallow National Championships held at Bembridge over the weekend are likely to be remembered for some years to come!

Eleven Swallows from Itchenor SC made it over to Bembridge on Friday afternoon in readiness for their National Championships over the weekend. Fearing the passage race would be a drift and a tow, those who did race were pleasantly surprised and actually had a nice race over. Having been mid-fleet for the first half of the race, Merlin (S94) helmed by Julian Kinross found herself out in front but was unable to hold off the late challenge by Skua (S3) helmed by Harry Roome and Blue Tit (S80) helmed by Paul Giles.

After the briefing on Saturday morning by the Chief RO, Jonathan Peel, the crews were taken out by launch to their boats on the Under Tyne moorings and rigged ready for a 12:00 start to the first race. However, with zero wind anywhere to be seen, patience (and lots of sun cream) was the order of the day as the forecast was suggesting a nice breeze would materialise by early afternoon! In the event a pleasant Southerly breeze steadily built and after a 40 minute postponement, the first race got underway with all eleven boats jostling for the best position. Two boats were called OCS and although S82 (Marengo) returned, unfortunately for them, S70 (Curlew) did not.

P1010905

Youtube Start of Race 1

The fleet quickly split as they headed up towards the windward mark and a spreader. With the inshore boats benefiting from a starboard tack lift near the Lifeboat Station, S3 (Skua) helmed by Harry Roome rounded first and proceeded to establish an unassailable lead ahead of S93 (Gwahir) helmed by Mike Wigmore and S95 (Osprey) helmed by James Hartley.

As the first race was finishing the wind veered 20% to the SSW’est, so there was a short postponement to the start of the second race as the course was adjusted slightly. After a rather more cautious start and no one pushing their luck, most of the fleet chose the right hand side of the course.

6July19 - Swallow Nats(3)

Youtube Start of Race 2

With the breeze staying pretty constant in both direction & strength (8 knots), S93 (Gwahir) led from the start and although pressed by S3 (Skua) and S86 (Migrant) helmed by Chris Fox, they made winning look easier than it no doubt was!

6July19 - Swallow Nats(21)

The third and final race of the day got away to another clean start and saw some tight racing in the ‘champagne’ conditions.

Youtube Start of Race 3

At the end of the first round, the leading six boats were within 30 seconds of each other. Despite a lot of pressure from James in S95 (Osprey), Mike in S93 (Gwahir) held his nerve and finished a boat length ahead; S3 (Skua) was third and S94 (Merlin) being helmed for the race by Mimie Currey was fourth.

6July19 - Swallow Nats(30)

At the end of the first day’s racing, and with no discard, Gwahir was overall first with 4 points, Skua was second with 6 points and Migrant was third with 13 points.

6July19 - Swallow Nats(24)

After an excellent dinner in the Club on Saturday evening, and faced with a dull & drizzly morning, it was a slightly subdued group who met at BSC at 10 o’clock ready to be taken out to their boats at Under Tyne. Overnight the wind had backed to the North East, although by the time everyone was ready and the course was set, it had veered to the South East between 8 to 10 knots. Although they all came back, three boats over cooked it at the start of the fourth race (S67, S76 & S80).

Youtube Start of Race 4

With the windward mark & the spreader barely visible, the majority of the fleet opted for the right side of the course. Spotting the two small ‘tube’ inflatables of the leeward gate was certainly quite testing and it was interesting to see such a variety of track being taken as the fleet tried to work out whether there was a favoured way through the gate. With a number of place changes as the race progressed, the finishing order showed more of a mix than in previous races. Always in the top three, S95 (Osprey) crossed the finish line 40 seconds ahead of S82 (Marengo) helmed by Carolyn Brigg with S3 (Skua) holding onto third place.

7July19 - Swallow Nats(7)

With the overall points very tight at the top end of the fleet, there was all to play for in the fifth and final race. Although the visibility improved slightly just before the start, the drizzle returned shortly afterwards.

7July19 - Swallow Nats(17)

Youtube Start of Race 5

S3 (Skua) soon established a comfortable lead ahead of S93 (Gwahir) and S67 (Solitude) helmed by Anthony Lunch. However, realising that they needed to be two places ahead of Gwahir if they were to win the Championships, the final beat back from the leeward gate to the finishing line almost became a match race with Skua managing to not only come in first but also holding Gwahir up enough to allow Solitude to finish second with a mere 5 seconds separating the three of them. This put Skua and Gwahir on level points and level places (2 firsts, 1 second & 1 third), but with a first in the final race, overall victory went to Harry, Prue & Charlie Roome in Skua.

An excellent weekend’s racing and Bembridge SC looks forward to welcoming the Swallows again for their Nationals in three years time.

Results – Passage Race to Bembridge

Results – National Championships

Additional Championship Photos

6July19 - Swallow Nats(60)

6July19 - Swallow Nats(27)

6July19 - Swallow Nats(45)

6July19 - Swallow Nats(46)7July19 - Swallow Nats(4)

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