Exe Sailing Club stage a highly successful 200 class National Championship
10:40 14 August 2014
Exe Sailing Club played host to the 200 class National Championships last week, writes Rex Frost.
The boats began rolling into the dinghy park, from as far away as Cyprus on Friday, and by Sunday morning 40 were lined up looking smart and ready for a weeks racing.
As it was, Sunday proved a little breezier than forecast, but the fleet arrived out at sea on time and Race Officer, Phil Morrison (who also designed the boats) got the races off on time. The leaders stayed in a tight bunch, lots of competition there, but the remainder straggled out somewhat and by lap three the capsizes began. By race two the waves were getting big and again those without the right technique were struggling. The leaders again covered the course in good time, getting thrilling planing reaches down to the gate, but the slower crews were tiring and after a number of capsizes there were disabled boats being tended to and boats retiring.
Day two saw more wind than expected, but after a long black cloud and rain drifted over the course, the wind died. Racing was postponed for an hour and then the breeze came back solidly. With waves building and gusts of 22 knots, the leaders enjoyed screaming spinnaker reaches while the tail-enders suffered from multiple swims. The safety boats were kept busy tidying up and escorting retirees back up the channel, but for most it was great fun. By the end of the day, Rob and Katie Burridge had built their lead with three bullets and were well on top of it.
Tuesday saw a dubious forecast and Phil went out early to check. The fleet was held back half an hour as rain obscured their view of the committee boat and then it was on. Race one was fairly gentle and the fleet got around in good order, but after a big wind shift it was breeze on again and with an ebbing tide the waves kicked up. The top competitors again enjoyed fast downwind runs across the waves and that continued with the run home over Pole Sand, with brilliant surfing conditions into the river. Grins were evident as the fleet came ashore, with the usual addition of icecream rewards for those who handed in their tags, on signing off. After three days the Burridges were in the lead with six points while the Army and Navy reps were equal second on 15. Lots to play for, but the top three were looking too good. With the programme on track, a Lay Day was declared for Wednesday and the visitors went off cycling, sightseeing or chilling out.
On Thursday the wind was light and one race saw the fleet all sailing calmly, for the first time. The race officer stopped the second race early as the wind was dying but it was obvious that the Burridges had cemented their place at the top and could not be beaten. The following morning saw a very light breeze, dying slowly. The fleet got to the lifeboat house and paused on the beach to await a new wind, then set off. In very fickle conditions the race officer got one race in, with the tail enders drifting back to the finish. The final race was cancelled, to universal acclaim, and the fleet drifted back on the tide to enjoy a sunny afternoon packing up and preparing for the prizegiving evening.
The Bob Horlock, event organiser, thanked all his teams and the class secretary thanked Exe for a wonderful week. Apart from the main prizes the ‘Pecker award’ was handed to Claire for still being unable to connect up the spinnaker. Dinner and a disco followed and the party went on well into the night. Full results can be seen at www.exe-sailing-club.org