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2001 Leader Nationals at Herne Bay SC

 

No. Sail No. Helm Crew Home Club Race1 Race 2 Race 3 Race 4 Total Points Points minus discard Final Position
1      26 Mike Sherwen Tom Sherwen Deben Y.C. 1 2 1 1 5 3 1st
2    331 Mike Fitzgerald Tim Dormer Dell Quay S.C. 3 1 2 3 9 6 2nd
3  1233 John Parker Paul Dickenson Hickling Broad S.C. & Melton Mowbray S.C. 4 4 3 2 13 9 3rd
4  1083 Chris Wharmby Jane Wharmby Milton Keynes S.C. 2 3 4 4 13 9 4th
5  1130 Jon Armitage Dave Boyle Milton Keynes S.C. 5 5 5 6 21 15 5th
6    118 Roger Morse Ashley Smith Welwyn Garden City S.C. 6 DNS RTD 5 25 18 6th

Sailing Report (reprinted from January's 'Leader News')

All the indications leading up to the weekend of the 1st and 2nd of September 2001 seemed to point to a great Nationals weekend for the Leader Class Owners Association. The wind was forecast NW force 3 on Saturday, backing to a westerly force 2 to 3 on Sunday. As I travelled with my crew along the north Kent coast, I was looking forward to a great weekend sailing and for one young man, this was going to be one of the most thrilling and exciting of his young life!

Herne Bay Sailing Club is easy to find and very accessible . It is situated on the eastern side of the town and access for car and trailer is along the promenade. A wooden ramp leads down from the promenade providing all round access to the sea even at low water. The club is friendly and welcoming, and we shared the weekend with the Pacer Nationals.

With such a wide expanse of uninterrupted sea and no obstructions such as moored yachts or sand banks, there was scope for the OOD to set interesting courses which included a large trapezoid and standard Olympic, and triangle.

The tide was mentioned at the briefing given by Dick Holness of HBSC, with the advice for Saturday afternoon that boats should not go too far downstream in a building ebbing tide, but should remain close to the start line.

The first race was quite eventful with Chris and Jane Wharmby being left downstream and struggling to the start line. Although John Parker was first to the windward mark, he had a problem on one of the reaches and unfortunately took an early bath! Paul Dickinson managed to pull his helm back on board, but they had now lost the initiative. Roger Morse had a shroud failure on the last leg of the race and due to some skilful boatmanship, managed to return to the ramp without assistance, much to the relief of his crew Ashley Smith.

A number of LCOA members had come along to observe the days sailing and meet up with old friends. These members included Ivan and Irene Vernon, Roy and Val Rodgers, and Hugh Pryke. This was nostalgia for Hugh as he had won the Leader Nationals here at Herne Bay in 1971, when 39 boats completed. Those were the days; do you remember the event Hugh?

With some of the problems sorted out, the  second race (back to back with the first) started with all the boats quickly over the line. The racing was very close and the lead changed hands many times, with some boats staying inshore to avoid the effects of tide, and others staying out to get better wind. Chris Wharmby tacked on the last leg to the line, not realising that the course had been shortened. This meant a short dash to the line would have been more appropriate and would have kept the pressure on the boat ahead. Chris was reminded of this in no uncertain terms, by his crew and new wife after the race. Welcome to married life Chris!

Saturday meant a quick run to a pub after the AGM to watch England beat Germany in the football! Then we moved to a quieter pub for an evening meal, and a great time was had by all, putting the sailing world to rights.

Sunday morning was to be tense and exciting, as Mike and Tom Sherwen and Mike Fitzgerald and Tim Dormer had both won a race, so there was a lot at stake in the next two races.

Mike and Tom won the first race of the day which meant that they had two firsts and a third. If Mike and Tim could get two firsts and a second, the final race would be a decider! As there was a long gap between the first and second race on Sunday, it was going to a test of nerves for both teams, especially young Tom. For two hours, the crews paced the foreshore and clubhouse, contemplating their tactics and race preparation. The last race was going to be thrilling. Jon Armitage and Dave Boyle had a great tussle with Roger and Ashley, and as they rounded the last mark they attempted to tack from a broad reach and they were pushed on to the mark in a foul tide! This gave Roger and Ashley time to catch up and it was bow to bow on the line.

Mike and Tom knew they had to win to ensure the coveted prize. They need not have worried as they lead the race from start to finish as the other competitors trailed behind and watched as they carefully picked their way through the waves. The conditions suited the lighter crew.

At the presentation, it suddenly struck home to Tom that he, at the age of thirteen, had won the Leader Nationals in 2001. Young Tom had a smile from ear to ear when he was presented with his prize. Much credit to Dad of course, who used his superlative seamanship skills to great advantage, pushing his boat through the waves, using tactics taking advantage of wind shifts. It goes to show that concentration, no rig failures and no errors go a long way to ensure a good performance in any race.

Credit to all competitors, especially Roger Morse and crew who were consistently first over the start line. Now we look forward to next years National Championships at Netley Sailing Club on the south coast. Hope to see you there!

 

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