Monday, July 13, 2015
Squib nationals 2015 Howth Ireland.
With a smaller fleet than usual attending the nationals this year due to the event being held in Ireland, which is a long standing agreement the class has to ensure the Irish fleets can experience the British championship. However, with the championship being a long trip for those on the East or South coast of England it did reduce attendance.
Those who made the trip were rewarded with sunshine and a near perfect week with the full range of conditions in a competitive fleet of 49 boats.
Practice race. The practice race is usually a quick affair in the squib fleet usually one short lap, which allows those to find their starting skills and also find out if you have tied your ropes on correctly. The race was won by the Malcolm and Andy on 819 by half a boat length from the Grogan’s. 3rd went to the Dave and Mark 136.
Race 1: Race 1 was a very tricky race, starting in about 14 knots and dropping the as the race went on. The Grogan’ 105 held the lead the whole way round despite the wind dropping and the windward mark having to be moved. It was a tense race, however on final lap to the finish the Grogan’s dropped their kite and sailed back upwind thinking there was another a lap… Such was their lead that by the time they got their kite back up and to the finish they had dropped to 7th overall. Handing 1st to the Dave and Mark 2nd to Malc and Andy and 3rd to Mike Probert going much better with his new Super Spar mast. The question was how much the Grogan’s mistake would cost at the end of the week?
Race 2. The fleet finally got away under U flag. At the front it was Nigel Harris 65, 136 and 819. The Grogan’s 105 were down the fleet having started at the opposite end to the others and then having to do turns up the beat after touching a boat during the starting sequence. After a good race the final positions were. 65,136,819.
Race 3. with the wind now strong, gusting up to 28 knots, the race officer set an Olympic course, with some tight reaches. The Grogan’s came off the start line and immediately took to the lead. They rounded the top mark 15 boat lengths ahead of the fleet and took off on the reach in a cloud of spray planing all the way across both legs. The rest of the fleet followed only the top teams being able to drive the boats to their full potential on the wild legs, a rarity for the class to experience but a joy all the same. 105,819 and 136 extended. With 136 overhauling 819 by the finish.
Cancelled too much wind.
Race 4. With too much wind the day before, there was a case of too little for the racing today, however the race officer got the fleet away with Ian Keely 16, pulling of a remarkable port tack start. At the top mark the Gerrard and Tony 800 lead narrowly over White magic 828. These 2 were locked in battle with the Grogan’s and Micky and Duncan 811 fighting for 3rd and 4th behind. The race got shortened after 1 lap. Due to the lack of wind final positions were. 800, 828 after failing to sail to the finish and letting 800 through,105 3rd and Micky 4th, who was now looking good with a consistent series.
Race 5 Still light but a much fairer race. As the sea breeze started to settle. This saw the positions head back to normal 65 winning from 819 and 820 Gordon Patterson the first Irish boat to make it onto the podium. The day had seen all the top teams get some big scores especially 136.
Race 6 with the wind light and off the land. It made for another tricky day the top sailors 105, 136 and 819 got caught left on the first beat and this resulted in the race being won by Vincent and Joe on 24, the first Irish sailors to get a race win at the regatta. Also David Lloyd in his new boat coming 2nd with Nigel Harris 65, showing that he could make sense of what was going on.
Race 7 Wind now swung back to sea, enable a mega fight to ensue between the leading groups. 136 and 819 covering each other nearly all race and 105 and 65 battling to the line with 65 getting 105 on the line by an inch.
Final race. With 3 boats in the running for the title. The standings were these; Malc and Andy 819 leading, with Nigel Harris 1 point behind and Dave and Mark needing things to go their way but about 7 points behind. For the 136 to win they needed 65 to be 8th or worse and 819 to be behind 65, all of this plus Dave and Mark also needed to win. So it seemed a long shot for them. However, Dave and Mark set a game plan of winning the favoured committee boat end and head hard right, high stakes stuff, which meant 819 and 65 started safer towards the middle but giving loads of bias and also tide away. 136’s strategy was spot on. They lead by 20 boats lengths and extended all the way round to win. Behind them 65 was in the teens with 819 further back. It was looking good for 136. As the race progressed 65 and 819 closed in on the necessary 7th spot, however with 65 having to loosely cover 819 this stunted there progress. It was almost an impossible situation for Nigel Harris to manage. Sail up the fleet and be close enough to Dave and Mark but risk letting Malcolm through who would then win. At the end it ended up with 136 winning. Nigel Harris was 8th and Malc and Andy were 9th. This meant that all 3 boats were tied on points so it was to be settled on count back, which meant that Dave and Mark 136 won the regatta with Nigel and John 65 2nd and Malc and Andy 819 3rd.
The Grogan’s 105 earlier mistake in Race 1 had in fact cost them the regatta as they would have won by a point if they would have sailed the correct course. Lessons learned.
All in all it was a fantastic week. With varying conditions and wall to wall sunshine. Next year the nationals is at Weymouth and a near/if not triple figure fleet will be expected. The squib road show now roles on to Cowes Week with 30 boats already entered.
Sails – 8 out of the top 10 used Hyde Sails.
Masts – Super Spars seemed to be dominant in the top 5 apart from Malcolm using a new Z spar.Boats – 4 out of the top 5 boats were old.