2017 National Championship at Stone SC

Unicorn National Championship 2017, Stone Sailing Club, July 31st to August 4th.

 

Day one of the 2017 National Championships.

The weather forecast was winds force 4-5 and so it proved. South Westerly in direction

and becoming more southerly in direction. The morning race was sailed on an ebbing tide

and the afternoon race on a flood tide. Gary Piper, William Dawson and Dan Jarman had

all bought and restored their old boats and were clearly going to set the pace whilst Steve

Pooley had brought along his latest acquisition, Unicorn 1100 the latest boat from the Gary

Piper stable but stripped of mast, boom and control lines and hence the Sunday had been

spent in rebuilding the rigging.

Rather surprisingly in the morning race, Julius Mach led at the first mark and also at marks

two and three where he rather lost his way not being able to spot mark 4 and eventually

being the sixth boat to round. Dawson and Piper then sailed away from the rest of the

fleet and after 3 laps Piper was first, Dawson second and Mach third benefiting from

Jarman having to retire after omitting a mark.

The second race saw Piper, Dawson and Pooley take an early lead but there was much

place changing on the run as a result of a vast amount of weed being swept up the river by

the incoming tide with boats swooping in varying directions as weed was cleared from

rudders. This race was only two laps fortunately for Jarman as sailing in the only boat with

pinned rudders as opposed to rudders held down by lines or other means meant he was

down to his last replacement pin as the pins sheared due to the accumulation of weed.

Piper was first, followed by Pooley and then Dawson.

Day two

The day started with lighter winds but this was just a teaser. There were indeed light

winds and plenty of windless patches as well but as the day progressed the winds grew

stronger with many shifts and gusts. The morning race was on an ebbing tide with the

second mark providing a test of skill. Piper made a clean approach and rounding and got

away from the rest of the fleet. Jarman and Mach arrived next and both failed to round

and had to put in several tacks before managing to round. Dawson thought he saw an

opportunity and came in fast to the mark and attempted to tack inside the pair and

discovered his error when the mark approached and hit him. Jarman subsequently

extended his lead over Mach. Dawson and Peter Toft got past Mach on the last lap when

Mach sailed into a hole and the pair picked up a gust and sailed a reach to the leeward

mark. Although Mach was able to pull a place back the race finished with Piper first,

Jarman second and Dawson third.

The afternoon race held in a newly flooding tide saw Jarman, Mach and Piper arrive at the

first mark in that order. Jarman and Piper tacked at the mark opting for a three tack beat

to the next mark but lessening the chances of interaction with weed whilst Mach stood on

for a one tack beat knowing he could clear his rudders and daggerboards quickly if

necessary. The one tack beat proved the better route and Mach subsequently led the rest

of the lap from Jarman and Piper. The wind had increased substantially for the second lap

and the heavy weather contingent of Jarman, Piper, Dawson and Pooley all swept past

Mach on the first leg. Pooley dropped a place on the run but then progressed from fifth to

second on the beat to the finish. First was Jarman, followed by Pooley and Dawson.


After racing there was a cream Prosecco – like a cream tea but with Prosecco rather than

tea – (included in the entry fee), a roast dinner (extra) and then the quiz night – first prize

£50 plus other prizes.

Day three

Races 5 and 6 were brought forward to Wednesday as the forecast for Thursday was

rather breezy. Even so the winds were still quite strong.

The morning race – Due to the strength of the wind a somewhat diminished fleet took to

the water with Boosey joining the four windy weather favourites. Jarman, by now in his

element blasted away from the start, with Piper and Dawson having a close battle. Having

led all the way round the course and with only a short leg to the finish, Jarman was

broadsided by a 35 knot gust which ended in a spectacular capsize. Piper and Dawson

were so intent on covering each other they failed to notice Pooley gaining ground and

allowed Pooley to pass to claim his first race win of the series.

In view of the high winds the afternoon race enticed Mach to try out a cut down sail he had

just had made. The sail worked miracles. As soon as it was up the wind died away and

the rain started. Jarman led away from the start line pursued by Piper, Dawson and

eventually Pooley. Dave Boosey and Mach had a tussle at the back of the fleet with

Boosey winning out. With very little drama the positions at the end were Jarman first

followed by Piper and then Pooley.

Some 220 people attended the barbecue in the evening which was followed by a barn

dance.

Thursday all racing was cancelled for the day. A catamaran was seen flying a hull but it

must be said that it had no sails up and was anchored. The bar was drunk dry while a rock

band played out the history of rock.

Day 4

Competitors were pleased to see the daily brewery lorry turn up as even the bottled beer

had mostly run out. Eleven empty kegs from the previous day were taken away.

The westerly breeze was still howling for Friday’s penultimate race with a steep Blackwater

chop caused by wind over tide. There was much place changing at the front end of the

fleet. Pooley took the lead, however confusion prevailed among the front runners, which

shall be blamed on poor visibility at the time, over the other Stone Week competitors’

shortened course flag. The shortened course flag was spotted but not the fact the the

Unicorn flag was not displayed whilst all the other class flags were. The leaders stopped

but Jarman carried on for the third lap to be the first and only finisher.

For the last race of the week sailed back to back in order to allow competitors to de-rig and

the race committee to calculate all the results, the tide was ebbing and the waves had

calmed down. Beating into the tide and a force 5, Jarman built up a comfortable lead and

went on to win. Gary Piper battled for second place against Pooley and Dawson who

finished in that order.


Piper won the championship with 9 points followed by Jarman with 11 points and Pooley

third with 15 points. Dawson, Mach, Boosey, Toft, John Moore and David Taylor filled the

minor places in that order. Over one hundred people sat down to a two course dinner to

watch the presentations with the hardy ones then going on to an end of week disco.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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