The 2009 Dart 18 National Championships was help at Dee Sailing Club on the banks of Dee estuary from 20th to 23rd August. The event was held at Dee SC for the first time, in their centenary year.
The 57 entries included boats from Holland, Italy and France and the entry was up on last year bucking the trend in many classes this year and good enough to be close to the top 20 nationals turnouts.
The strong field included Dan Norman and Mel Rodgers (Sheppey) the defending champions (and former world Champions) and the current world champion Emmanuel Dode (SR Vannes)
copyright : Roger Sanders Photography.
8 races were schedule and 6 were completed in a variety of conditions using windward /leeward courses, set by the local Dee SC team managed by the professionals from Starlight Coaching.
The forecast for Day 1 was strong SW winds force 6 to gale 8. The Welsh hills provided some shelter from the wind and the first race got under way in 20-25 knots but with huge gusts coming over the course 35 knots+. The local weather station on Hilbre Island recorded gusts between 30 and 40 knots. Many of the favourites were in the leading bunch at the windward mark but a band of heavy gusts lead to a number of pitch poles. Leading the way were Jamie Lynch and Jamie Ferguson from NSSC, they kept their nerve over next two rounds to take the win. Behind there were more people in the water at the second windward mark three boats stopped to help rescue a competitor in the water, they later received redress of average points for their actions.
Local Dee SC sailor James Douglas sailing with his 13 year old son Alex kept the boat up-right to claim 2nd place and Mat Exon and Helen Jones from Royal Yorkshire were 3rd. Dave and Louise Roberts from Stokes Bay were 4th.
The decision was made to postpone the rest of the days racing as the winds increased.
Day two dawned with a 10 knots of breeze from the SW and the fleet launched for the day. Before racing could start a storm cloud rolled over the estuary killing the wind and bringing torrential rain, lighting and hail stones. The fleet was sent back to the shore.
Eventually the storm cleared and racing got underway in a 12-18 knots breeze.
In Race 2 the course was a long 1.8 mile beat with the boats from the right hand side coming in with a huge lead, lead by locals Will Thompson and Zander Ozelton, Dee SC who lead the whole way to take first from Paul Wakelin and Ellie Draper from Mumbles in 2nd , Nicollette van Gorp and Ruud van Gisbergen (Roerkoning) in 3th and Marco Manganelli and Rachel Foster (Stokes Bay) 4th..
Race 3 had a shorter 1.5 mile beat the leading bunch were close during the first round. The leaders went left on the second run and James Douglas and Dan Norman found a great patch of wind on the right to round the gate in 1st and 2nd. Norman found the right way up the last beat and held on downwind to the finish to take first with Douglas 2nd. Chris Moore and Jessica Walton from Stokes Bay took 3rd to bring them into fight for the title with average points for race 1. Father and son team Andy and Tom Kelley from Stokes Bay were 4th.
Day 3 was a beautiful summer day with non-stop sunshine but very little wind. Locals predicted a sea breeze around high water time and indeed after much sun bathing the 6-8 knots arrived from the NW. There was only time for one race and this was hotly contested by Douglas, Norman, David Lloyd and Joanna Jones-Pierce (Stokes Bay) and Dave and Louise Roberts. There was little in it with the decisive moment coming at the second leeward gate when Douglas in trying to get inside Roberts hit the mark, this left Roberts to lead to the finish with Norman 2nd and Lloyd just holding of Douglas for 3rd.
Overnight Douglas lead but Roberts, Norman, Lloyd (also carrying average points), Wakelin and Moore were also in a position to win.
Day 4 was a more overcast day with 18-23 knots of wind from the S.
Race 5 had a port-biased line and Dee SC sailor Gareth Owen (ex World/ European and National Champ) crewed by Amanda Gadsby port tacked the fleet and they lead all the way to take the race win. Lloyd helped his chances with a 2nd and Thompson started to find the consistency missing in the early part of the event with a 3rd. Roberts was 4th, Norman 5th and Wakelin 6th. Douglas got buried on the 2nd run and could only get back to 11th. Moore retired with gear failure and he was now out the reckoning with one race to go.
Race 6 and any one of 5 boats could take the title, Douglas this time got a perfect port start and the fleet split left and right to go for shallow water to avoid the out going tide.
The crucial point of the race came in the last 3rd of the first beat; all the title contenders were on the right except Roberts on the left. The leaders on the right sailed past the shallow waters and into the welsh channel hitting big tide. Douglas tacked off to get back to the left. On the last tack into the windward mark Roberts traveler broke and they were out of the race. Douglas rounded 3rd behind Dode and Manganelli. The two leaders increased their lead by going further left on the second beat and down the last run Manganelli got past Dode to take the win. Stuart Snell and Simon Farthing (Grafham Water) got through Douglas on the penultimate beat to take 3rd. Wakelin was 6th and Norman had to could his 17th after a first race retirement due to gear failure.
On coming ashore no one was very sure who had won, as it was so close.
In the end the Roberts’ won, as they were consistent enough in the first five races to pip Douglas’ by one point. Douglas’ won the trophy for the first Parent /Child combination.
The Masters trophy was taken by Owen and Gadsby and the Youth (under 21) trophy was won by Luke Fletcher and Alison de Sliva (Snettisham) from Cameron Douglas and Zac Bromhead (Dee SC), both these crew finished the first race in extreme conditions.
Fletcher and de Silva also won the UKIDA Handicap prize for the most improved crew.
Max Exon and Helen Jones won the trophy for the highest placed crew taking part in their first nationals.
Dee SC organized a great sailing and social event and now the Dart 18 fleet look forward to the World Championships in Aruba later in the year.
1st 7835 Sailing Books Dave and Louise Roberts, Stokes Bay, 22pts
2nd 7534 Bogtrotter II James and Alex Douglas, Dee SC, 23pts
3rd 7724 dinghyinsurance.com David Lloyd and Joanna Jones-Pierce, Stokes Bay 25pts
4th 7894 Fluid Boat Services Paul Wakelin and Ellie Draper, Mumbles 27pts
5th 7810 La Vela Marco Manganelli and Rachel Foster, Stokes Bay 30pts
6th 7788 Dan Norman and Mel Rogers , Sheppey