UK (IOM) National Championships 2023, Fleetwood
The International One Metre is arguably the most popular of the radio sailing classes and certainly the most competitive. This year’s championship was held at Fleetwood, at a club steeped in model yacht history. The club evolved from a group of model yachtsmen who sailed their boats on a piece of water near the shore known locally as ‘The Navvied Pond. The Fleetwood Model Yacht & Power Boat Club was formed in 1930 and the lake, as we know it today, was officially opened by 1st Earl Beatty of “Jutland” fame in 1932, at which time they had 100 members and a nice wooden clubhouse in which members could store their boats. In the same year the club held its first National Championship for ‘6 Metre model Yachts. In the following year, 1933, the British Open A Class Championship was held for the first time at Fleetwood. Since that time Fleetwood as held many major National and International Championships for many classes of boats. Enough of the history. The front end of the IOM fleet consists of multiple World, European and National Champions and they have sailed these boats for decades. To get a top ten finish in this fleet it shows you can compete with the very best in the world. Fleetwood put on a day of practice racing on Friday and it was ominous that Craig Richards won several of the races in his borrowed Britpop. The main contenders would be Rob Walsh, Chris Harris, Martin Roberts and Tony Edwards who are all masters of this class and champions in their own right. To help many of the competitors prepare for racing, multiple World, European and National Champion Brad Gibson arrived to help anyone set their rig up. The maestro was kept very busy during the day and also into the first day of racing. Day 1 A light north easterly breeze greeted the 62 strong fleet. The race team made good use of the available water setting a course across the full length of the lake. The format for racing was a 4 Heat system with 6 places up for promotion and of course relegation. Craig Richards opened proceedings with a win, but Rob Walsh and Chris Harris strung a series of near perfect results in the first 3 races to lead at the end of the day. In the afternoon session, racing was
delayed and the course adjusted due to the change in wind direction. After approximately an hour the wind settled to a north westerly breeze and the seeding round was finally completed. Due to the unsettled conditions only 3 races were completed and the first two heats of race 4.
It was great to see some of the talented skippers who have travelled from Europe competing, Kristina Jakelic (No 51) from Croatia, was one of only two ladies to enter the championship this year. Competitors came from the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden and there was one competitor due to come from the USA in the form of Gary Boell, but he had to pull out at the last minute. Everyone benefited though as he donated his entry fee for a barbeque at the end of day one.
After racing we were treated to the barbeque, kindly cooked by John Taylor and his sister and served in the occasional rain. Thank you, Gary.
The fleet were in 2nd rig as the strong 20mph north westerly breeze blew down the full length of the lake. The first round of racing today was completed before a delay due to a protest. The Race Officer called for a skippers meeting to re-brief the fleet on their sailing conduct and a reminder of the rules tacking off a bank.
During the day, a 5 way battle for the lead developed between Martin Roberts, Rob Walsh, Craig Richards, Chris Harris and Tony Edwards. Further down the top 10, a lack of consistency and top 5 results kept the rest from getting involved in the leading pack. Racing continued all day with the smaller B rig. Starts were crowded and sailors had to be attentive or places would be lost. At the end of the day Craig and Rob drew away from the pack with skillful and consistent sailing.
The weather was more of the same on this final day. Racing was rescheduled to 3 Heats, which means 24 boats on the start line. Finding room and a good lane off the line was the best way to gain a good result. Get it wrong and you rode your luck in the busy pack.
The lead became a battle between Craig Richards and Rob Walsh and were rarely separated by more than a single point. When the final results were tallied, there was only one point between them.
Congratulations to Craig Richard’s (Britpop) on a classy win in a quality fleet. Craig was just 1 point ahead of 2nd place Rob Walsh (Britpop). In 3rd place was Chris Harris (Britpop), 4th Martin Roberts in one of Craig Richards designs, then Tony Edwards.
In the designs "race", Britpop's filled 6 of the top 10 places with one each of the K2, V11 and Venti designs along with Craig’s own Chimera design sailed by Martin Roberts.
Odd Omulf Stray was the first overeas entry in 7th place.
Full results can be found on MYA Downwind on Facebook
At the prize giving Craig gave a gracious speech, a video of which is on MYA Downwind! Facebook page. These events are run by volunteers who willingly give their time freely and there were many. The two ladies in the kitchen who worked tirelessly making sandwiches for lunch and providing endless cups of tea and coffee, plus cakes and desserts. They were the heart of the event. Then there was the measurer, the starters, the finishers, the jury judge, the race officers, the mark layers, the flag pole raisers, the observer marshal, the fleet board manager, the computer scorers and more. They worked diligently come rain or shine. Aside from this there is significant preparation to run this event and at the head is Uncle Derek (Priestley) as he is fondly known. Not only was he PRO but he was seen on the first night serving us all at the barbeque and then baffled us all with a cryptic team quiz on the Sunday night dinner at the Venue in Clevelys. The winning score for the quiz was 6 out of 14 which either meant we were all thick, or the questions were really difficult. Well done Derek for baffling us all. So a massive thank you to Fleetwood for another wonderful event. Next year the IOM’s are off to Poole for their Nationals in the 1st May bank holiday weekend. Next up this year are the IOM Europeans in Torrevieja, Spain starting on the 8th October and we are all hoping the Brits will put up a good show.
The Fleetwood team
PRO Derek Priestley Event treasurer David Rose ARO/Protests Robert Owens
Measurer Phil Holliday Master Scorer Damian Ackroyd/Bob Jolly Fleet Board Damian Ackroyd Start/Finish Paul Middleton, Judith Baldwin, Min Edwards Observers Ian Hawtin Kitchen staff Lisa & Holly Priestley Consultant Peter Baldwin
7 am Setup and knock down Eric Ausatwick, Bob Jones, Steve Mattison, Peter Iles
On behalf of the fleet, a huge thank you to all the above for a great championship.