Nat IOM Champs 2000

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Pools Brook, August 2000

An excellent new parkland lake in the hills of Derbyshire hosted the millennium championship. Winds were non-existent to light for the start of day 1, becoming light to moderate (up to, say, 5 knots) for the remainder of the day. Day 2 and day 3 followed a similar pattern, with the odd gust on days 2 and 3 of 10 knots. Continuous drizzle spoilt day 1, but the rain stayed away thereafter. More significantly, the winds were widely variable in direction, and continuous course changes were made. The Race Committee was much hampered by the wind blowing off the bank and never onto the bank, and very few heats were sailed with a true beat for the first windward leg. The windward mark could almost always be fetched in one tack from the starting line. What was therefore lacking in strategic and tactical options for the fleet was more than compensated by the fact that the shifting wind developed numerous holes, and wild changes of position in the fleet could occur as boats dropped into and emerged from these pockets.

There was one seeding race of three fleets, and the 54 skippers were then split into four fleets for the remainder of the event. Almost all of the top skippers were present, and by the end of the first day of four races and one discard we had:

Day 1 position   Points
1= Peter Wiles 5
1= Graham Bantock 5
3 Mark Dennis 8
4 Keith Skipper 10
5 Martin Roberts 14
6 Peter Stollery 15
7= John Cleave 18
7= Chris Harris 18
9= Graham Elliott 19
9= Robert Walsh 19

Pack leaders

In an early "A" fleet heat of the first day, the photo shows the leading pack on the run: #70 Wiles (Oscar), #88 Bantock (Italiko), #22 Roberts (Gadget), and #90 Skipper (Ikon). They have just left the windward mark some 20 boat lengths behind. The difficulty of the shifting and variable winds can be gauged by the fact that, at a similar point on the approach to the windward mark, these boats were pretty much in reverse order. Sensation of the event was young Robert Walsh, #124 (Widget). This junior skipper, not yet in his teens, showed his transom on more than one occasion to every other skipper. Superb performance!

To my eye, only Peter Wiles and Graham Bantock looked comfortable at this point in the event. The rest of the skippers seemed to be struggling with the conditions. It did seem that protests would not be a problem in the event, since as far as I know only two were made during day 1.

Day 2 was a somewhat different story. Protests held up proceedings rather badly, and I have to confess that I was to blame for a particularly protracted one. I have learned my lesson, though, since immediately before the incident in question I was lying in second position in the "A" fleet heat; an hour later after the protest hearing I was DSQ'd and found myself down in "D" fleet for my next race. I never recovered. At the end of day 2, eight races and one discard later, the table of the top 10 skippers showed a significant adjustment, with skippers clumping into groups. Each group was separated by a significant number of points, but within a group the skippers were separated by just one or two places:

Day 2 position   Points
1 Graham Bantock 15
2 Martin Roberts 20
3 Peter Wiles 21
4= Mark Dennis 30
4= Chris Harris 30
6 Peter Stollery 32
7 Keith Skipper 41
8 Trevor Binks 49
9 Robert Walsh 50
10 Nigel Gilson 51

Nigel Gilson showed a wealth of interesting ideas on his J-Sann 12, from somewhat delicate mast partners, through a lifting bulb body, to a jib boom about 2mm off the foredeck thanks to a sunken jib track and a jib swivel that terminated in the cockpit.

A slender pair of mast partnersA lifting bulb shape

Jib boom right down on the foredeck

Jib pivot line adjusted in the cockpit

By the end of day 3, Graham Bantock had sailed to a comfortable win, Martin Roberts had held on against a challenge from Chris Harris (Widget) while Peter Wiles had slipped down, and Graham Elliott (Gadget) staged a late recovery to displace Peter Stollery (Tonic). The light winds favoured the narrow hulls; Derek Priestley in 7th place was the first skipper with a wide beam TS2, and Mark Dennis in 8th was the first skipper with a medium beam Ikon.


2022 Lester Gilbert