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Nationals MontageSoon after our arrival on Thursday the fleet gathered at Stromness Golf Club for registration and welcome drinks, enabling people to get to start to know each other. It was also an opportunity for me to give a talk on the benefits of a good start, mark rounding and committee boat starting procedures, which I was given to understand may assist sailors with little experience of committee boat starting.

On Friday morning briefing was held at the top of the ramp and Iso did a great job of making herself heard over the horn of the Northlink Ferry, which interrupted her numerous times as it was still foggy. We also took a special note of the importance of avoiding any incidents near the committee boat as we had the special privilege of having the beautiful Thomas McGun the old Longhope Lifeboat as our committee boat.

Due to the difference in age of boats that were competing, the fleet was separated into two fleets, to promote more competitive racing between boats of similar standard. The older boats were called the Hens, while the newer boats were called the Harriers. All 13 Orkney Boats were in the Hens Fleet along with Richard and Nicky Lambert and George and Sarah Mees who are both regular Orkney visitors.

The fog lifted and the sun shone as 25 boats launched from a small slipway to make their way out of Stromness Harbour and into the open waters of the Bay of Ireland. With 15 knots of wind competitors were keen to get going and it didn’t take too long to get everyone in the starting area. The first race saw a clear start with all twenty five boats on the right side of the starting line, which probably was a relief for the race officer who, along with a fantastic team (and a scotty dog), delivered excellent races for us in some most challenging wind conditions over the three days. At the first windward mark it was close between Maxim Romain/Lloyd Roberts, Richard and Debbie Marshall, Ian Gregory/Jenna Gibson, Mark Antonelli/Anita McSorley and Neil Martin/Randi Stray. The fleet separated out and Romain/Roberts led at the second mark with Marshall/Marshall in second. This was secured up the second beat with Gregory/Gibson arriving at the second windward mark in third and this was the final result for that race. In the Hens Fleet, Pete Tipler/Thorfinn Johnston secured a first with Richard and Nicky Lambert coming in second.

Throughout the first race, the wind was building and the race management team chose to send us off on a Triangular Course for the second race, which was a good decision as by the time we got to the gybe mark it was a good 20 knots. The fleet completed the first leg with all boats upright and Romain/Roberts were leading the fleet again, in second was Martin/Stray who were close behind. Further back was a close fight for 3rd with Marshall/Marshall having the edge on Sue and Steve Roberts in Basil. A close race with lots of changing of positions for boats and in the Hens Fleet, Lambert/Lambert secured their first win with Tipler/Johnston coming in second.

The fleet sailed in to a busy ramp and were rewarded for their hard work with ales provided very kindly by Rob Hill’s Highland Brewing Company and some beautiful homemade cakes/biscuits from Patsy Hall and Janet Burgon

On the Friday night, competitors and fellow Orkney people came together in the Stromness Hotel for a fine meal and excellent music provided by a Junior band called Broken Strings – a local Ceilidh Band. In addition to this, Sarah Mees, Mitch Emery and the brilliant Griogair Morrison provided a warm up to the dancing that was to take place for the remainder of the evening. I can safely say that the Hens Fleet won the dancing for the night with the Harriers having no idea how to dance!

Saturday morning came along a little too quickly for some but to their relief, the wind was blowing and the launching was postponed due to the F6-7 that was in the bay. This subsided and the launching commenced with race 3 due to start at 13:00. By now the wind became rather shifty making it difficult for the Race Management Team. The start saw a few keen people and the first general resulted in an I Flag for the second attempt, this saw the fleet get away successfully. With the fleet splitting up the first beat, some left and some right, the wind was playing games and was exceptionally light and variable, the fleet on the left saw the advantage and by the windward mark, Ian Gregory (who was in need of sunglasses all day) and Jenna Gibson took an early lead with Eric and Lynn Paalman jostling with David Clouston/Tom Wills and Romain/Roberts for second, third and fourth. The wind became more available and the race finished with Gregory/Gibson winning, Paalmans took second with Romain/Roberts managing to take third, a special race for Clouston/Wills who held on to fourth.

Race 4 saw a slight postponement due to the wind shifting around, it settled and the race officer set us off on a good beat. Again the fleet separated and within 500 metres from the start…. It dropped to nothing! It then came in dribs and drabs and in different locations. Some got it whilst others didn’t. At one point the fleet on the left were sailing on Starboard and the fleet on the right were sailing on starboard but at the same angle! A very challenging/frustrating/difficult first beat with the lead swapping between a number of people. Finally Antonelli/McSorley reached the first mark with Martin/Stray, Gregory/Gibson and Marshall/Marshall close behind. The fleet took some time to reach the gybe mark and by now it had settled down to a constant 5 knots! Mid way along the second reach and when Antonelli/McSorley were about 50 metres from the leeward mark the race had to be abandoned due to the time it had taken us to complete the first lap….. Better not write some of the comment made when that rule was enforced!!!!!

The wind continued to play games and the postponement flag remained up for the third race of the day. The scenery and kind weather made the waiting easier and if anything, gave the opportunity to take in the view including looking at the bottom of the seabed (which was about 10 metres in depth). Finally the wind settled and we were off! The wind again then played havoc up the first beat with a clear split in the fleet. Antonelli/McSorly rounded first Gregory/Gibson in close second. Also joining them at the front was Gibson/Gibson and Sue and Steve Roberts. The group had a sizeable lead over the next group and this was extended over the leg as the wind started to build. It was at this point, I pointed out to Debbie that I predicted a blow. The triangular course turned out to be an excellent decision and as my prediction became a reality, the fleet were relieved to not have to run down wind. The reaches were great and the quick development of small waves made it more fun. The gybe was a little more lively and Roberts/Roberts decided to take the safe option allowing Gregory/Gibson to take third with Gibson/Gibson in second and Antonelli/McSorley in first.

On the way in, the wind did blow, and with the beat all the way home, Romain/Roberts decided to quickly check the capsize procedure as others did follow the lead! A good force 6-7 saw us arrive back at the club to discuss the bizarre and strange wind patterns, this analysis became more interesting as the free beer was consumed!

The Saturday evening arrived with us having a sit down meal again at the Stromness Hotel. This was then followed by dancing and drinking to the brilliant band, The Polkadots featuring our own James Burgon. This went into the small hours again and in true snipe style, became a lively and enjoyable social event.

Sunday arrived and it was planned to complete three races to make up for race four that was abandoned on the Saturday. The wind was light and variable again and with all the boats on the water the race officer set us off on a Triangular course. The first leg saw the wind bend making the final part of the beat become a fetch for several boats. Along the first reach, it is fast to bring the dagger board up to reduce drag. It was at this point Andy Gibson noticed that he had sailed the first beat with his plate in the wrong way round. They took it out and with a lot of wobbling around put it back in the right way. This secured him the Dead Weight Award which was presented to him later in the day at the prize giving! The race was won convincingly by Romain/Roberts with Martin/Stray in second from Gibson/Gibson (who realised that the boat goes better with the plate round the right way) and took third from Antonelli/McSorley after a tight battle up the final reach and beat.

Race 7 saw another postponement whilst the wind settled. Finally, the course was modified and the starting sequence got underway, again the beauty around eased the waiting. At one time the whole fleet were at the committee boat with Angus the coxswain of the Thomas McGunn becoming very concerned, the boat had survived two days, could she survive the third? 25 snipes all in one area must have been very daunting. The race officer flew the postponement flag at about 10 seconds to the start as a big shift came through and made the first beat a fetch – again the right decision by the race committee. Funnily enough, the inner distance mark appeared more apparent for the re-start, which saw us all get under way with only an individual recall. The race was again won by Romain/Roberts who secured the event, second was Antonelli/McSorley with Marshall/Marshall collecting a third.

The final race to replace the abandoned race 4 was to decide 2nd place onwards, this made an exciting race for many who were trying for the last time to secure their best result possible. Once again, Romain/Roberts secured a very convincing lead as they were clearly very relaxed in the boat by now. There was a good tustle for 2nd, 3rd with Antonelli/McSorley and Roberts/Roberts very close to each other with them finishing in that order. Further back was Gibson/Gibson and Marshall/Marshall swapping places with Marshall/Marshall picking the right end of the finish line to secure a 4th in the race.

A special mention to Lee Thompson who managed to fall out the boat twice in one race!

The regatta was concluded with a prize giving at the Stromness Hotel with special awards presented first. John Love was sadly unable to be present at the Nationals in Stromness, but had presented the John Love Friendship Trophy for the first Orkney Boat – this went Pete Tipler/Thorfinn Johnston who sailed to a second in the Hens Fleet with Richard and Nicky Lambert winning. In third were David Clouston and Tom Wills, who have hopefully been converted to Snipe Sailors!

Mark Antonelli crewed by Anita McSorly won the Antonelli Cup for first British and the seniors trophy.

Many of the visitors to Orkney spent the following week in the area with time to sightsee and explore the beauty of the Islands. Club racing happened on Thursday evening allowing some of the locals to experience some of the newer boats.

One of the best Nationals I have been to and I would like again to thank the people that made this event happen. It was supposed to be a one off event but I am hopeful that the kindness and welcoming attitude will see us all meet again in the beautiful setting of the Orkneys.

Senior results - View junior results

PositionSail NoHelmsmanR 1R 2R 3R 4R 5R 6R 7SubtotalWorst DiscardTotal
1 GBR29367 Maxim Romain 1 1 3 7 1 1 1 15 10 5
2 GBR30226 Mark Antonelli 4 5 10 1 4 2 2 28 15 13
3 GBR29970 Richard Marshall 2 3 6 5 5 3 4 28 11 17
4 GBR30227 Neil Martin 5 2 12 6 3 4 6 37 18 19
5 GBR28451 Ian Gregory 3 7 1 3 9 8 7 38 17 21
6 GBR29374 Andy Gibson 26 8 9 2 3 5 5 58 35 23
7 GBR29611 Sue Roberts 26 4 11 4 6 6 3 60 37 23
8 GBR30834 Eric Paalman 6 6 2 26 7 11 9 67 37 30
9 GBR20557 Richard Lambert 8 9 7 26 8 7 8 73 35 38
10 GBR30315 Brian Gregory 9 14 5 26 21 10 13 98 47 51
11 GBR24704 Pete Tipler 7 10 16 9 11 15 17 85 33 52
12 GBR20351 David Clouston 12 26 4 26 10 12 14 104 52 52
13 GBR30227 James Prestwich 14 26 8 11 14 14 10 97 40 57
14 GBR21453 Lee Thomson 16 12 17 8 15 9 20 97 37 60
15 GBR20690 Malcolm Tipler 13 11 18 12 13 14 12 92 31 61
16 GBR19327 Ian Johnstone 10 16 22 13 12 17 11 101 39 62
17 GBR20263 Charlie Siderfin 15 18 13 14 16 18 15 109 36 73
18 GBR20558 James Burgon 11 13 19 26 18 19 19 125 45 80
19 GBR28398 Barry Jones 18 19 15 15 17 26 18 128 45 83
20 GBR22778 Mark Taylor 20 15 21 10 22 26 26 140 52 88
21 GBR20224 Malcolm Gordon 17 16 14 16 26 26 26 141 52 89
22 GBR23980 Chris Moore 26 26 20 26 20 16 16 150 52 98
23 GBR20559 George Mees 19 17 26 26 26 26 26 166 52 114
24 GBR26581 Edward Johnstone 26 26 23 26 19 26 26 172 52 120
25 GBR26159 Raymond Grieve 26 26 26 26 26 26 26 182 52 130


Junior results - View senior results

Boat No.Boat NameHelmCrew Race 1Race 2Race 3 TotalRank
24704 Go Faster Blue Thorfinn Johnston Nathan Omand   1 2 3   6 1
29374 Wave Jenna Gibson Lloyd Roberts   5 1 1   7 2
22778 Wild Goose Edward Johnstone Griogair Morrison   4 4 2   10 3
20263 Aeolus Alex Baikie Charlie Siderfin   3 3 5   11 4
20557 Freyr Joss Lambert Richard Lambert   2 5 4   11 4
20636 Kontiki Ewan Miller Fionn Webb   7 7 6   20 6
24705 Scooby Finley Hall Donnie Hall   6 9 9   24 7

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