Gunfleet Sailing Club played host to the 2012 National Championship of the Solution class dinghy last weekend 11 and 12 August, sponsored by Harken, with boats coming from as far afield as Lincoln, Gloucester, Lancashire and Somerset; the Club already having a fleet of five.
The Class Association requested a training session be held on the Friday and with some expert tuition several of the owners took the opportunity to gain a few tips on improving performance.
The weather conditions on the Saturday, the first day of the Championship, proved quite lively with a force four, gusting five, east/south easterly wind greeting the competitors for the first race, along with quite a lively sea. The Race Officer set a P course and watched the start from the Committee Boat, which pitched and rolled at anchor just off the Club.
First to retire was local sailor Sonny Hart when a fitting pulled away from the boom but the rest of the dinghies beat out to the Seaward mark before a broad reach towards a buoy off Queensway. At the top of the fleet there was a battle between Nathan Batchelor from Clevedon Sailing Club, and Gunfleet’s Simon Clarke, and after the first lap it was still clearly anybody’s race. However, during the second lap Batchelor established a solid position and at the end of lap three he claimed victory, Clarke coming second and Gunfleet’s Paul Davis third.
During lunch the wind freshened and started hitting the top end of a force five, giving some lively sailing in the second race and one or two capsizes, particularly at the gybe marks. An early lead was taken by Kevin Clark from Chorley and the conditions seemed to suit him perfectly as he just continued to pull away from the rest of the pack, making victory appear very easy; second being Batchelor with Clarke third. By the third race the wind had swung round to east/north east and continued at the top of a five. The top positions appeared to be a mirror image of the previous race with Clark of Chorley simply romping round the course. Further down the fleet there was still much stiff competition with Luton’s Pete Warne fighting to keep ahead of Martin Tubb from Timperley; their sea battles continuing throughout the weekend. Gunfleet’s veteran Eddie White, having exhausted himself in the first two races, retired back to the shore.
Conditions on the Sunday had moderated a little with a steady force four wind, returning back to the direction of east/south east, and the sea continuing to have a swell. Race four saw a very bunched start, but as the boats ran from the Seaward buoy towards one stationed by First Avenue it was realised the mark had come adrift and was practically on the shore; at this point the Race Officer had no alternative but to hoist the race abandoned flag. As soon as the competitors were back at the Committee Boat the race was rerun and Colin Newman from Hinckley got off to a flying start. However, he was unable to keep the lead and soon Batchelor was out in front and clearly determined to fend off his rivals. The only female competitor, Kathryn Hayfield of Delph Sailing Club, retired, finding the seas too much having been used to inland waters. With only two laps, despite being challenged by both Clark and Clarke, Batchelor took the winning gun, the other two getting second and third respectively. Race five saw a different leader, and at the end of the first lap it was Gunfleet’s Davis in the lead but as the race progressed Batchelor slipped in front and won by a small margin, Davis having to content himself with second place and Clark taking third. In the sixth and final race, despite much fierce competition the top three places mirrored the previous event, and this was sufficient to ensure that Batchelor took the Championships overall.
At the prize-giving that followed Gunfleet Sailing Club presented every entrant with a special T-shirt that was funded by J. C. Venables Tile Centre and Nucleus Watersports, and the competitors went home vowing to return to the east coast for some more great sailing and superb hospitality.
Results – Solution National Championship 2012:
1. Nathan Batchelor – Clevedon Sailing Club
2. Kevin Clark – Delph Sailing Club
3. Paul Davis – Gunfleet Sailing Club