Heat 2 - Blaze Nationals at Warsash SC - June 6/7/8

A record fifty four Blazes competed in the 2010 National Championships, in all conditions.   

A record 54 Blazes (46 visitors) gathered for the 2010 national Championships, hosted by the ever-reliable Warsash SC, over three relentlessly sunny days in June.

It was an event of firsts, the first time since going independent that the Blaze class has geathered over 50 competitors together for an event, the first time the fleet has been split in to Gold/Silver/Bronze and the first time anyone has tried to perform a boat-over-boat cartwheel on the start line and nearly manage it.

The course to be sailed was a standard port-handed trapezoid, with none of this gate silliness every lap that so unnecessarily leads to a smattering of DSQs down the results. Simplification was at the heart of the racing programme and calls by some for a leadboat were dismissed. How hard can it be to sail around in a big square, Mr Miller? The briefing had promised an 8 knot easterly sea breeze to get the fleet out to the racing area (some two kilometers out in the solent), building as the day wore on. So we were happy bunnies launching in the afternoon sunshine. Great water, great weather, the promise of a barbeque and a very reasonable bar.

They’d even told us there’d be wind.

But sea breezes are rather like squirrels. You see them everywhere until you actually want to catch one and stuff it and put it on your desk to keep you company (don’t think too hard about that metaphor, I certainly didn’t). And so as the fleet gathered at the racing area and the course was laid, eight knots began its slow depressing sag.

The fleet, unfazed by the unfulfilled promises of the weatherman, pushed the first start line hard and several boats were over it, none went back. A touch of port bias had spread the fleet quite evenly down the line, but it split immediately in to two groups, the left, tacking for the shore and the right, tacking for the channel, with the middle of the beat being left quite empty, but for the presence of Pete Barton (551 sailing as 6541) and Nick Miller (757), who led to the windward mark unchallenged. Those who had tacked left, including a Mr Mike Lyons (769), -more interested in the gleaming shore side caravan park than racing- over stood the mark and the first of the chasers came from the right. Barton pulled away on the first run down, followed by Miller, Paul Helmsely (761), Ian Clark (695) and Myles Mence (668). Barton pulled his lead out further on the second lap, but Miller, determined to defend his position by shameless deception, attempted to sail the fleet to the wrong wing mark. It didn’t work. Barton led to the finish, followed by Helmsely then Miller and Clark.

The second race saw Barton, having gotten in to the swing of this hiking business (it’ll never catch on, surely) take advantage of the fleet’s still sedentary starting practices and perform a clean port flyer, along with Rob Jones (678). They cleared all boats and lead to the windward mark unchallenged. On the dying breeze though, the impish Christian Smart (763) came charging through on the reach and took both of them downwind, before doing a “horizon” job and being the lead boat that some of us so clearly needed. The rest of the race was a rather processional affair. Jones led the chasing pack to the finish, followed by Barton and Lyons. The fleet drifted home for a warm evening of food and drink, a prequel to Saturday night’s entertainment.

The sun rose on Saturday to the promise of another building sea breeze…one day we’ll stop believing them. Things were looking up at the starting area though, and once the Solent Caravan Club’s Aquatic division had vacated the racing area in their hulking J109s, a 12knot east-south-easterly settled in and produced a frustrating short chop. With a brisker tide flowing out all day (and thus pushing boats over the line), starts were always going to be a tricky affair, but the fleet, undeterred, cruised over the line in a great mob…with ten seconds still to go. One black flag later and Miller led off the middle of the line. The windward mark saw Barton, Martin Saveker (774) and Bob Williamson (741) all black flagged and retiring. Lyons led around the mark and quickly pulled out a substantial lead, followed by Miller, who, with someone to follow, managed to sail the right course, Jones followed him round. As the wind began its seemingly inevitable demise, the race settled in to a procession, with overtaking oppurtunities limited to mark roundings and a long beat which saw almost all the fleet head out for the starboard layline. Lyons finished with a clean victory, followed by Miller and Jones.

Another port-favoured line saw Nick Miller lead off the middle with another fine example of a flying start, halting an attempted port flyer by Jon Saunders (611) and leading for the first lap, Lyons, Smart and Jones pursued. Looking as if he was about to do another horizon job, Miller tacked for the left again on the following lap. He and all those that followed him had to sit and watch as the sheer scale of their misjudgment hit home. Dozens of boat-lengths were lost to those who went right into the strengthening tide, Miller slipped back to 5th, giving Smart, Lyons and a recovering Barton the lead to finish in that order.

Race five saw Andy McIvor pull out a lead to the windward mark, pursued by Allistair Barbrook (750), the first of the class’s growing youth contingent to break in to the front ranks. Barbrook, characteristically nippy offwind, overtook as they approached the wing mark. Heading up the chasers was Smart, who caught up with the leaders on the reach and then past both of them downwind. Smart pulled away, leaving McIvor and Barbrook to fight off Lyons (and each other).

Thus, with five races completed the prospect of a clean victory for anyone seemed distant. Smart and Miller led on 10 points, followed by Lyons on 11. Barton and Jones were both carrying duff results that could be lost in discards and bring them back in to contention, provided they posted a string of top results on Sunday. While Smart was sporting three victories, Sunday was forecast to be the closest to Blaze Breeze that the event was going to see, with 15knots, building to 22 by late afternoon (after racing had finished), not ideal for a 5ft 7 spritely Welshman.

The threat of real breeze was forgotten for a few hours as a Saturday evening’s entertainment kicked off. A barbecue of truly epic proportions was laid on by the club, free to all entrants, and local band “Too drunk to dance” played sets of pop music to which to dance the night away, if one were so inclined.

NOTE: The Blaze fleet is recruiting for a new “lone dancer” after the last holder of the position found himself on youtube and has now developed a bad case of stage-fright. All applicants accepted, co-ordination optional.

Free beer tokens (handed out across the fleet as prizes by the “because we say so” ruleset of the racing committee) swelled the numbers at the bar. Despite that though, the take for the night was reported as over £1,000...at £1.80 a pint, from 54 poeple...

One might expect the fleet to be struggling to dress themselves on Sunday morning let alone sail anything (and while we’re here, is “drinking and sailing” illegal?). The promise of genuine excitement though, tempted man and boat out again. A few knots of westerly breeze that promised to turn into a proper 20knot southerly drove the fleet out to the racing area...and stopped. Quite suddenly, as if someone somewhere had tripped on the cable and pulled the plug out of the wall, the wind stopped.

Foiled again?

With two minutes to go on the countdown to race six, the prospect of another drifter looked almost certain. Then, as a group of high-performance Cats approached, heading east along the solent, the impossible happened. Water to the south began to darken from flat grey in to a rich rippling blue and as the Cats suddenly picked up speed, mono-hulling across above the idle Blaze fleet, a crisp 10 knot southerly breezed in, settled and brought its mates.

Once the course was relayed, racing got underway. An outgoing tide forced the fleet to port up the beat, allowing many boats to head up the left side, tack under the port layline and have the tide lee-bow them up to the mark...that was the plan anyway. Barton and Jones led off the port end of the line, with Lyons, Smart and Miller preferring the middle. Barton and Jones looked to be leading but over stood the mark and fetched in to see Lyons crossing them on starboard. After a brief battle, he pulled out a lead downwind and carried the race. Jones and Barton battled their way around, with the latter only to find that in his enthusiasm he had been over the start line prematurely. Miller cruised in 3rd after overtaking Roger “the dodger” Williams (762), who in the building breeze posted his best result in 4th.

By the time race seven was getting underway 15 knots had become a minimum of 20, and a “frustrating” chop had grown into something rather more...damaging. Barton again led off the port end (this time from behind the start line) and opted to foot off and go for speed. Above him Jon Saunders, finally able to make his height and weight count for him, stayed out on port all the way to the lay line then tacked across to find himself first to the windward mark, with Jones in hot pursuit. The two pulled out a lead from Barton, Lyons and the rest of the fleet and sailed the rest of the race worrying only about each other and the prospect of death downwind.

The diligent among you will recall the mention of a cartwheel attempt at the outset. It was between race seven and eight that Christian Smart’s distinctive yellow hull could be seen suddenly join with Stefan Smart’s and very nearly pitch poll all the way over him. The transom lifted out of the water up to a good 45 degree angle, held there for a few seconds, while the occupant hung on for dear life, before returning safely to a capsized position. I for one, would very much like to know how!

In the first two races Smart had counted a 20th and a 10th, with one discard already dedicated to an OCS from day one, he was out of contention. Lyons, suffering from a pulled back muscle retired from the final race, along with Barbrook, Helmsely and a cluster of others. 20 knots had become 25 and several masts had already been damaged in the punishing chop. This left Lyons on 16 points, Jones had to finish in the top three in order to take the championship, while Barton, like Smart, was put out of contention by previous start-line shenanigans soaking up his two discards.

Saunders led off the port end again along with Barton, who once again footed off, then tacked early. Progress upwind was slow and difficult, groups of short high waves arrived together, proving impossible to work the boat through and stopping it dead. Speed...any speed became more important than any pretensions to pointing upwind. Barton and Jones met at the windward mark and battled along the first reach. Saunders rounded 3rd, but clipped the mark. At this point a large yacht was pulling up twenty boat lengths upwind from the mark and the dozen or so occupants gathered on the leeward gunnel to watch the carnage. Saunders, sensing the presence of an audience, opted to put on some entertainment and after beginning his penalty turn with a tack, went cruising in to the king-of-all death rolls never to be heard of again. In the meantime, a gaggle of boats had swarmed up on the mark, dragged down on to it by the tide. Pete Barlow (758) escaped the cluster and pursued Barton and Jones to carry 3rd, followed by Peter Jones (683). The real challenge of course, was surviving the run. In a one-lap race, a mistake cost you everything. High short chop left gulleys of water that did a special service in submarine conversions and the last thing may sailors saw was a foot of water come piling over the bow. Tough decisions were made all the way up the fleet, Barton lost his lead over Jones by gibing wide on the run, while the latter headed straight down. Twenty four finished.

With a total of 14 points and on only one 1st, Rob Jones became the 2010 Blaze National Champion. Second place went to Mike Lyons on 16 points and third to Peter Barton on 25.

A huge range of prizes were given out, from tiller extensions to rudder bags, kit, clothing, discount vouchers as well as the usual glass and silverware. Daily prize givings had taken place for all three days by a variety of systems; from top down to bottom up and even “because it made us giggle”.

After Friday the fleet had been divided in to Gold, Silver and Bronze divisions. Jon Saunders won 1st Silver fleet, Nick Creak (729) 1st Bronze. The Golden Rudder (awarded to the last boat to complete all eight races, no easy feat after Sunday) was awarded to Richard Statham (675). Allistair Barbrook won 1st Youth, Mike Lyons 1st Master, Myles Mence 1st Grand Master and Paul Taylor (654) the Ancient Mariner. Bob Williamson, of Aberdeen (741), was the furthest travelled and on August 28/29 we will all get to repay the favour, his club is hosting the fourth heat of the travellers series, the Scottish Blaze Championships.

Even as prizes were being collected, the host club laid out yet more food for competitors, a feast of cake greeted sailors as they arrived from packing up boats.

Rob Jones thanked Warsash Sailing Club for their dedication both on the water and off, praising a “stellar job in some of the most variable conditions imaginable,” for taking such good care of competitors and putting on a veritable mountain of food. Special thanks go to Kayospruce, Cirrus Raceboats and SysMicro, who sponsored the event with over £1500 worth of prizes and giveaways

Finally, some food for thought...

In the top three were all three generations of the Blaze and numerous older boats penetrated well in to the top twenty on the leader board. Rarely does a class see boats of all ages compete so closely.

In a brief talk with Rob Jones after the event, we discussed the boat, which he is relatively new to. He had this to say:

“That’s the thing about the Blaze, it’s simple. There’s none of this constant fiddling that you get in some classes. You just set it up, hop in and see how well you can sail it.”

See you at Aberdeen!

Jon “don’t screw it up now” Saunders

Final Results

Overall

Sailed: 8, Discards: 2, To count: 6, Entries: 54, Scoring system: Appendix A

Rank

Sailno

Helm

Club

R1

R2

R3

R4

R5

R6

R7

R8

Total

Nett

1st

678

Rob Jones

Warsash SC

(6.0)

2.0

3.0

4.0

(11.0)

2.0

2.0

1.0

31.0

14.0

2nd

769

Mike Lyons

Burghfield SC

(8.0)

4.0

1.0

2.0

4.0

1.0

4.0

(55.0 DNC)

79.0

16.0

3rd

6541

Peter Barton

Royal Lymington YC

1.0

3.0

(55.0 BFD)

3.0

13.0

(55.0 OCS)

3.0

2.0

135.0

25.0

4th

757

Nick Miller

Morecambe & Heysham YC

3.0

(10.0)

2.0

5.0

(9.0)

3.0

5.0

7.0

44.0

25.0

5th

763

Christian Smart

Pembrokeshire YC

(55.0 OCS)

1.0

7.0

1.0

1.0

(20.0)

10.0

11.0

106.0

31.0

6th

751

Andy McIvor

Blackwater SC

(11.0)

6.0

4.0

6.0

2.0

9.0

(14.0)

5.0

57.0

32.0

7th

668

Myles Mence

Royal Solent YC

5.0

12.0

(14.0)

(13.0)

6.0

7.0

9.0

9.0

75.0

48.0

8th

761

Paul Hemsley

Burghfield SC

2.0

7.0

11.0

(20.0)

18.0

5.0

8.0

(55.0 DNC)

126.0

51.0

9th

750

Alastair Barbrook

Burghfield SC

(27.0)

11.0

5.0

7.0

3.0

19.0

23.0

(55.0 DNC)

150.0

68.0

10th

760

Terry Crook

Blackwater SC

7.0

9.0

10.0

10.0

(55.0 DNF)

18.0

15.0

(19.0)

143.0

69.0

11th

767

Simon Beddows

Burghfield SC

10.0

8.0

(22.0)

18.0

8.0

6.0

21.0

(55.0 dnf)

148.0

71.0

12th

611

Jonathon Saunders

King George V SC

14.0

(25.0)

16.0

15.0

(55.0 DNF)

11.0

1.0

16.0

153.0

73.0

13th

774

Martin Saveker

Shustoke SC

13.0

5.0

(55.0 BFD)

9.0

(38.0)

8.0

22.0

20.0

170.0

77.0

14th

695

Ian Clark

Warsash SC

4.0

13.0

18.0

(30.0)

19.0

13.0

20.0

(55.0 dnf)

172.0

87.0

15th

710

David Angwin

Burghfield SC

(34.0)

(26.0)

6.0

24.0

14.0

15.0

16.0

13.0

148.0

88.0

16th

743

Bob Cowan

Warsash SC

23.0

17.0

13.0

12.0

7.0

16.0

(30.0)

(55.0 DNC)

173.0

88.0

17th

637

Roger Cerrato

Warsash SC

(25.0)

20.0

19.0

(22.0)

10.0

10.0

13.0

17.0

136.0

89.0

18th

741

Bob Williamson

Aberdeen & Stonehaven YC

9.0

(28.0)

(55.0 BFD)

14.0

27.0

17.0

12.0

14.0

176.0

93.0

19th

595

Sam (John) Pickering

Shustoke SC

16.0

(29.0)

(38.0)

26.0

16.0

12.0

11.0

12.0

160.0

93.0

20th

758

Peter Barlow

Burghfield SC

20.0

(35.0)

21.0

(28.0)

22.0

27.0

7.0

3.0

163.0

100.0

21st

748

Chris Spicer

Morecambe & Heysham YC

12.0

21.0

23.0

19.0

12.0

14.0

(25.0)

(55.0 DNC)

181.0

101.0

22nd

762

Roger Williams

Burghfield SC

19.0

30.0

26.0

16.0

(36.0)

4.0

18.0

(55.0 DNC)

204.0

113.0

23rd

731

Tim Davison

Medley SC

15.0

(27.0)

17.0

8.0

23.0

26.0

27.0

(55.0 DNC)

198.0

116.0

24th

670

Stefan Smart

Pembrokeshire YC

(42.0)

16.0

15.0

21.0

20.0

25.0

24.0

(55.0 DNC)

218.0

121.0

25th

754

Mark Astbury

Warsash SC

(24.0)

19.0

20.0

23.0

24.0

23.0

(55.0 DNF)

22.0

210.0

131.0

26th

723

Alex Williams

Blackwater SC

22.0

15.0

8.0

31.0

5.0

(55.0 DNC)

(55.0 DNC)

55.0 DNC

246.0

136.0

27th

729

Nick Creak

Hamble River SC

30.0

(43.0)

28.0

(41.0)

34.0

24.0

17.0

8.0

225.0

141.0

28th

581

Eden Hyland

Shustoke SC

(55.0 OCS)

18.0

(30.0)

25.0

26.0

29.0

28.0

15.0

226.0

141.0

29th

546

Joshua Hyland

Shustoke SC

31.0

22.0

24.0

(35.0)

(35.0)

28.0

32.0

10.0

217.0

147.0

30th

704

Julian Owens

Pembrokeshire YC

(48.0)

(42.0)

27.0

27.0

15.0

31.0

26.0

23.0

239.0

149.0

31st

764

Ben Fullalove

Blackwater SC

29.0

34.0

9.0

11.0

28.0

40.0

(55.0 DNC)

(55.0 DNC)

261.0

151.0

32nd

531

Matthew Love

Wilsonian Sailing Club

37.0

(40.0)

40.0

(42.0)

39.0

22.0

19.0

6.0

245.0

163.0

33rd

717

Bob Yates

Burghfield SC

32.0

23.0

(33.0)

33.0

32.0

(44.0)

29.0

18.0

244.0

167.0

34th

720

Andy Conway

Chichester YC

(55.0 OCS)

14.0

12.0

17.0

21.0

(55.0 DNC)

55.0 DNC

55.0 DNC

284.0

174.0

35th

575

Richard Hill

Warsash SC

18.0

(41.0)

25.0

36.0

29.0

32.0

37.0

(55.0 DNC)

273.0

177.0

36th

604

Mike Bell

Burghfield SC

(38.0)

32.0

35.0

29.0

17.0

38.0

33.0

(55.0 DNC)

277.0

184.0

37th

654

Paul Taylor

Burghfield SC

28.0

33.0

32.0

34.0

25.0

(41.0)

34.0

(55.0 DNC)

282.0

186.0

38th

683

Peter Jones

(55.0 DNC)

(55.0 DNC)

55.0 DNC

55.0 DNC

55.0 DNC

21.0

6.0

4.0

306.0

196.0

39th

766

John Abbott

Oxford SC

21.0

38.0

29.0

(47.0)

41.0

34.0

36.0

(55.0 dnf)

301.0

199.0

40th

724

Matt Burnett

Felpham SC

33.0

(37.0)

34.0

37.0

30.0

35.0

31.0

(55.0 dnf)

292.0

200.0

41st

680

Gareth Hyland

Shustoke SC

39.0

(47.0)

43.0

(45.0)

44.0

33.0

38.0

21.0

310.0

218.0

42nd

675

Richard Statham

Shustoke SC

(45.0)

(46.0)

45.0

40.0

33.0

37.0

40.0

24.0

310.0

219.0

43rd

693

Peter Wright

Hythe & Saltwood SC

41.0

(49.0)

44.0

32.0

42.0

30.0

35.0

(55.0 DNC)

328.0

224.0

44th

682

David Entwistle

Burghfield SC

40.0

36.0

36.0

39.0

43.0

39.0

(55.0 DNF)

(55.0 DNC)

343.0

233.0

45th

730

Andrew Pears

Queen Mary SC

35.0

39.0

41.0

(43.0)

37.0

43.0

39.0

(55.0 DNC)

332.0

234.0

46th

548

Martin Hughes

Warsash SC

26.0

24.0

31.0

(55.0 DNF)

(55.0 DNC)

55.0 DNC

55.0 DNC

55.0 DNC

356.0

246.0

47th

768

Brian Buggy

Portishead Yacht & Sailing Club

43.0

44.0

42.0

44.0

(45.0)

36.0

41.0

(55.0 DNC)

350.0

250.0

48th

528

Nicholas Hance

Netley SC

44.0

45.0

39.0

46.0

40.0

42.0

(55.0 DNC)

(55.0 DNC)

366.0

256.0

49th

753

Chris Coleman

Warsash SC

17.0

31.0

(55.0 DNC)

(55.0 DNC)

55.0 DNC

55.0 DNC

55.0 DNC

55.0 DNC

378.0

268.0

50th

676

David Brown

Felpham SC

(55.0 DNC)

(55.0 DNC)

37.0

38.0

31.0

55.0 DNC

55.0 DNC

55.0 DNC

381.0

271.0

51st

619

Andy Witcher

Pembrokeshire YC

47.0

48.0

48.0

48.0

46.0

45.0

(55.0 DNF)

(55.0 DNC)

392.0

282.0

52nd

690

Phillip Wilson

(55.0 DNC)

(55.0 DNC)

46.0

50.0

48.0

46.0

42.0

55.0 dnf

397.0

287.0

53rd

622

Laurence Marshall

Oxford SC

36.0

51.0

49.0

51.0

49.0

(55.0 DNF)

(55.0 DNC)

55.0 DNC

401.0

291.0

54th

692

Ivor Barbrook

Burghfield SC

46.0

50.0

47.0

49.0

47.0

(55.0 DNF)

(55.0 DNC)

55.0 DNC

404.0

294.0