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Paignton Sailing Club: 22nd - 24th August 2009

‘Snakes and Ladders’

The 2009 Snipe National Championships were held at Paignton Sailing Club as part of the Ocean BMW Torbay week. The 7 race series was sailed over three days and competed in by 17 crews. Although racing was extremely competitive and all places hard fought one must congratulate the run away winners and returning champions Alan Williams and Liz Pike.

This year’s nationals were a break from our traditional format. As part of Torbay Week a lot of the organisation was handed over to the Torbay committee and the race course shared with the Vortex national championships and the Laser circuit fleet. The Vortex fleet were started first on an offset windward leeward course followed by the Laser fleet and then the Snipes on a standard Olympic course.

All 7 races were sailed in very similar conditions - a shifty offshore force three, combined with a short chop and holes like sinks. All three combined made for very testing races. Sails set for power and keen compass work was going to win the day.

On day one Alan Williams and Liz Pike sent a clear sign of their intentions with a clean sweep of the first three races, the other competitors were left to play snakes and ladders in the shifts whilst they sailed away effortlessly, seemingly never picking a bad shift. Iain and Richard Marshall took second in the first two races and posted their discard in the third. The third race saw the largest shifts of the day with huge payoffs on both sides of the course - for once banging the corners paid off!

Paignton Sailing Club hosted Saturday evenings entertainment. The evening was billed as a Caribbean evening with Piratey fancy dress encouraged – garrrgh.. Snipers turned out on mass dressed as their pirate alter egos, it was an impressive effort – good work guys! An impromptu competition identified “Pirate Reg” as the reprobate most likely to steal your treasure. As a jilted competitor myself I think the result a little unfair; Richard Marshall barely hides his inner pirate at the best of times! Brian Gregory and Ian Knight would have made worthy crew mates along with Pirate Sue who sparked special interest from the band. Sadly the Laser and Vortex classes were conspicuous only by their absence. I guess that’s living proof of our “serious sailing serious fun” motto, and confirms my theory on single handed boats..

Day 2 did not get off to an auspicious start; sailors woke from their piratey haze to rain and very little wind. Race 4 was postponed and sailors were held onshore for an hour waiting for the wind to fill in.

Alan and Liz again sailed well to take first place in the first 2 races. Race 5 was won by Nick Mcgonigle and Guy Welch who sailed a great race winning by ½ a leg.

Race six was led by Will Williams and Eric Paalman who had built a commanding lead on the first beat. It was looking like a two boat race until they turned the corner and headed for the wing mark, or what they thought was the wing mark.. The laser fleet had by now finished their series and were no longer acting as guide boat the sheer number of buoys on the water during Torbay week was a daunting sight. Their slight detour sadly cost them dearly and handed the lead to Williams Pike. Disaster aside it’s great to see Will Williams buzzing around the front of the fleet. This has sparked a new game amongst snipers called “Where’s Will” – A game that I hear the female crews are rather keen on playing.. On the reach to the finish Andy Gibson proved that you don’t need to stay in the boat to score in the top three. Next time I would like to see him water ski from his mainsheet rather than dangling from the end of it..

The last championship race on he Monday had no implication on deciding the overall winners, but all other places were up for grabs. Andy and Carol Gibson had one challenger for 2nd place but a top three result secured their position. 3rd place had four close rivals, but in the end Ian Gregory and Cécile Munoz climbed two places to take the honours and the right to write this report.

At the meal on Sunday night it was decided to run the reserve race as a “fun” race. The helms names (not car keys!) were put into a hat and the crews picked their helm at random. The race proved to be a great success amongst competitors and one that we would like to repeat again given the opportunity. The race was won by Ian Knight and his borrowed feather weight crew Anne Gregory.

Thank you Paignton sailing club and Torbay race week for hosting and organising the event. I hope we will be able to return one day. Well done to Alan Williams and Liz Pike for their series white wash.

Position Boat Helm Name Crew Name Points
1 GBR30316 Alan WILLIAMS Liz PIKE 6
2 GBR29374 Andy GIBSON Carol GIBSON 22
3 GBR28451 Ian GREGORY Cécile Munoz 29
4 GBR29303 Nick MCGONIGLE Guy WELCH 30
5 GBR29164 Ian KNIGHT Graham HOY 30
6 GBR29501 Iain MARSHALL Richard MARSHALL 33
7 GBR30315 Brian GREGORY Anne GREGORY 37
8 GBR30617 Phil HACKNEY Emma HACKNEY 43
9 GBR30226 Mark ANTONELLI Tracy NORRIS 43
10 GBR28276 Will WILLIAMS Stephen WILLIAMS 46
11 GBR29538 Eric PAALMAN Chris NEWSON 50
12 GBR29611 Sue ROBERTS Steve ROBERTS 56
13 GBR30227 James PRESTWICH Anita McSORLEY 67
14 GBR29408 Peter WIBROE Caroline MURDOCH 81
15 GBR29163 Pauline PENNY Susan ROBERTSON 93
16 GBR27871 Gavin SURTEES Gareth SURTEES 94
17 GBR28639 Roger GARDNER Paul GILMOUR 99

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