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2023 Marblehead Nationals Keighley

Updated: Sep 20, 2023

See below for Draft report for Y&Y. Just waiting for full results before I post.


How did I do


I got into Marblehead sailing because I struggled sailing an IOM in a breeze. I could not react quickly enough, struggled to tack smoothly and generally not fast enough. Last weekend gave me bucket loads of experience of sailing in a breeze in a fast boat. Never get that in an IOM.


Saturday dawned dry which was a surprise because the forecast had been for rain. Strong gusts were shooting across the reservoir so there was only one rig to put up and that was the smallest one I had, the C3.


Craig Richards was first on the water tuning his boat and getting used to the conditions and I was close after him. We sped through 15 races on day one which is a benefit of having one fleet. I was not thinking straight and had a couple of technical issues so my result did not reflect my potential. To give you some examples, the jib sheet wrapped itself round the jib boom in two races when I was lying forth or fifth forcing me to retire or finish last. I got unsighted in one race, sailed into the side of the reservoir on the first beat, in another race I had to do two sets of penalty turns which put me at the backend finally I was over the line in another race. In 5 races I finished last or retired. I think the term "not with it" comes to mind. I ended up 8th after day one so I was not the only one having issues.


Things got a bit better on day two including 3 stellar races where for whatever reason, over the start line at the gun, hooking up with another boat and starting 40 yards behind the fleet or getting into irons just as the gun goes. In each case, I was able to recover to finish in the top 5. In the end I finished 6th. If I had a coach, I think we would have had a Ben Ainslie type conversation after the Vilanova round of the AC40 racing about the frequency of last places on Saturday.


Summing up


The Grunge when set up correctly, is very quick and easy to sail. If you have one all the detail is in the tuning guide.

5 last places in one day is a novel experience for me.

The weekend was super experience in fast sailing and I definitely improved as the weekend went on.

I need to sail the boat a lot more to understand its characteristics and behaviour especially manoeuvring. This was the first time I sailed it in real competition.

The lesson I learned from watching Craig is I need a lot more hours on the water to refine my sailing and spend more time on attending to the finer detail of boat set up.

Whilst I was pushing the line on each start, I need to get my time on distance better so I hit the line at full speed with the fleet and not just a nats behind the lead boats.

One issue I created on Saturday was I sheeted the C3 jib too close to the mast and that prevented me from tacking smoothly. The boat would go through the wind smoothly and then the sails would snap fill, stoping the boat from completing the tack even when I eased the sheets the boat stopped. Darin Ballington mentioned the solution after one race and when I checked the measurement, I found the jib was sheeted way to close to the mast. All I had to do was follow the instructions in the tune up guide. DUR!!!!


It was a successful weekend despite the fact I should have done better, but after the events of last weekend, a long drive and a new boat, a top 6 result was fair.


What to think about over the winter.

Build a light weight swing rig

Build a B2 rig.

Check all the rigs match up to the rigging guide

Use the DF95 as a practice machine over the winter. They have similar characteristics to a Marblehead but require precision to sail them fast.

I need to practice more to become more consistent in championships.

Replace the jib boom end fitting to stop the sheet flipping over the back and terminating the race.

Check to see if there are any leaks in the hull using air pressure and soapy water. The boat was dryish but I just need to check.

Run through all the rigs and check they match the rig plan.







Here is the draft report for Y&Y. I am waiting on the race by race results for day two to complete the report.


The Weecher Reservoir is situated 256 feet above sea level on the edge of Ilkley Moor. For those down South it is a 5 hour truck up the M1 but it is well worth it for the sailing over two days.


The Marblehead is one of the nicest radio sailing yachts. It is a dream to sail, is fast, well balanced and exciting to race.


On Friday the Datchet team arrived at 1pm and ominously Craig Richard sailing an F6, was practicing from 1-5pm. With three National/Global events under his belt this year (DF95 Global, IOM Nationals, DF95 Nationals), could he snatch a forth. Other leading contenders for the crown were Darin Ballington, Austin Guerrier, Nigel Winkley form Germany, Graham Bantock and Peter Stollery.


The forecast for racing was 13-to 25 mph but we were treated on Saturday morning with strong gusts across the lake and C3 conditions which we kept all day. 15 races were completed by the end of the day giving the 18 competitors a good work out. On Saturday my phone counted 19000 steps for the day and on Sunday where the walk was shorter 11000 steps.


Armed with C3 rigs and the occasional C2 racing got underway just after 10am on Saturday. Immediately Darin and Craig locked horns and finished first and second with Craig taking the win, but as the day progressed, Darin’s consistency won through to lead by 20 points to Craigs 36. Darin was incredibly unlucky in one race where he was leading by a long way only to have his jib sheet wrap round the jib boom at the last mark and then retired. Chasing hard were Austin, Nigel and Graham and new to the Marblehead, Rohan Williams from Datchet who showed excellent turns of speed. Your author struggled through the day showing a complete lack of judgement at times with 5 bad races finishing nearly last in each. Two races were unlucky where the jib sheet twice wrapped round the jib boom when lying in the top 5, forcing retirement from both races. Work to do on the boat over the winter.


On Saturday night, we retreated to the The Dick Hudsons where we shared the highs and lows of the day and what if stories. Most of us were showing signs of fatigue from the long drive and long day of walking up and down the side of the reservoir along with huge concentration on the racing.


Sunday dawned with the moors shrouded in cloud and on driving to the reservoir I wondered if we would be able to see our boats. Thankfully the mist slowly cleared and the day remained dry with patches of sun showing later in the day. This was weekend where forecasts could not be trusted


All eyes were on Darin and Craig, the latter was first on the water practicing and focusing on the boats set up. The big question was to use the swing A rig or conventional B as at time the wind was on the limit of the Swing rig. With an experimental running start the decision was made for us and all chose the swing rig to get the best speed on the run. After that we returned to conventional windward start and most switched to the B rig. As the day wore on, Craig reeled Darin in and eventually overhauled him with astonishing consistency. I guess with all the practice and focus on setup it was inevitable that Craig would win.

So in the design race, the F6 with full Redant fitout sails, servo and Stinger winch leads the way closely followed by the Grunge,


So at the finish the results were


1 Craig Richard F6

2 Darin Ballington Grunge

3 Graham Bantock Quark

4 Austin Guerrier Grunge

5 Nigel Winkley Neu Nue

6 Nigel Barrow Grunge


Report full results and pictures will go onto MYA web site, MYA Downwind, and yachts and Yachting



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