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Stone Sailing Club: Friday 20th – Sunday 22nd August

Sitting here in sunny Spain, resting my weary body the day after the Nationals, I have had time to reflect on the long weekend of racing that has just passed.

This year we were fortunate enough to return to Stone Sailing Club on the River Blackwater in Essex for a three day event. The Snipe retinue comprised 14 entrants plus family and friends. What was most apparent this year was how the average age of the fleet has reduced. There were toddlers and babies amongst us giving the atmosphere an even greater family feel than usual. Ian and Cecile’s absence was noted as they were on their honeymoon in Kenya (perhaps lowering the age profile of fleet even further!). The absence of Ian did however help some of us have earlier nights and less time at the bar.

Stone Sailing Club provided an excellent venue with a generous BBQ on the Friday evening and a supper on the Saturday at which we were joined by some familiar faces from previous years. Perhaps best of all, the bar seemed to stay open as long as needed!

The Race Committee was headed by Wendy Robinson who set well judged courses and even though the changeable wind directions on the last day must have tested her patience, the proceedings never lost a sense of direction.

The first two days were dominated by the wind. It was a test of endurance as much as anything else. At the end of the second day, there were still five boats capable of winning the event. It was at this time (in the ladies changing rooms) that bruises were inspected and it was apparent that Mark Antonelli had the most uncomfortable boat to crew as Anita won the bruised leg competition, although Carol wasn’t far behind!

The final day was also dominated by the wind – its absence in this case. The first of two planned races had to be abandoned after 45 minutes and which left the remaining race to decide the championships. By way of change, the Race Committee set a windward / leeward course across the tide. This presented a lot of tactical choices. Going into the last lap Alan Williams and Richard Marshall were in pole position …until the wind filled in from the South East (vaguely from the Netherlands) and which helped Iain Marshall and Harry Cotgrove to take the gun. There were sufficient other place changes throughout the top half of the fleet to allow Eric Paalman and Graham Hoy to snatch the title.

It was a great weekend of sailing with five different race winners out of six. Eric and Graham were however the most consistent team throughout the weekend - the only boat to manage two wins – and it was this that took the title back North.

Well done to Eric and Graham! There has been much off-water debate about whether Eric and Graham were assisted by his new Skipper Snipe, his new Speed Sails or because Graham was taking the tactical calls. Who knows? It is however widely suspected that it was in fact all down to the pony nuts that Eric was seen consuming every morning outside his tent!!

Thank you to everyone who participated and supported – I think you will agree that we had a great Nationals. Thank you also to Stone Sailing Club for the fantastic welcome you always give the Snipe fleet.

Sue Roberts
Basil 29611

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