Sail Free - Marblehead Nationals at Keighley
Chris Jackson reports on the world of radio controlled racing sailboats
The UK Marblehead class championship was held over the 17th – 18th of May on the picturesque Weecher Reservoir site near Keighley. Thirty-three competitors arrived for Day 1 where an oscillating S-SW wind gusting to 12 knots made rig selection of B or C most important for the duration. Racing throughout the fleet was intense with no less than six past and present radio yachting world champions in attendance, along with international competitors from France and Germany.
At the completion of Day 1, after 8 full rounds of A and B heats, it was current World Champion Brad Gibson leading by the narrowest of margins on 9 points from Peter Stollery on 10.7pts, with recently crowned French National champion Graham Bantock in 3rd on 19 points. The top 5 places showed five differing designs reflecting skipper ability of holding a clear lane out of the start with the freedom to tack on the first shift as the most important factor in the day’s results.
Skippers found the conditions challenging throughout the day with upwind crossings at speed and distance difficult at times to judge on the windward leeward course sailed directly away from the control area. Protest chairman David Hollom was called into action on several occasions but in general the quality of racing and rule adherence in the conditions was of a high standard and skippers took penalty turns accordingly. Skippers retired to the Ilkley Moor Vaults for a fantastic meal orchestrated by our Keighley hosts, where GBR skippers travelling to the upcoming Worlds in Gouda were presented with their racing hoodies.
Day 2 dawned with the prospect of freshening winds from the South providing PRO John Tushingham with the opportunity of setting a course allowing skippers to walk its length. Once again B or C rigs were the choice amongst skippers and racing got under way at 9.30 am, with a long first beat to a windward mark with a spreader where skippers could more easily see their machines. Boat speed and an ability to work the left-right oscillations became the key to success. To that end it was Gibson and IOM World Champion Robert Walsh who laid down a marker in Race 9 with a tight 1-2 finish. As the day progressed there was movement up and down the fleet where skippers enjoyed the fast racing on flat water, pushing their boats to the limit.
Gibson continued his winning form over the day, only dropping one race to Stollery from 8 races sailed, to go on and take the championship in fine form. Stollery, after a couple of earlier hiccups by his own standards, settled down to push Gibson hard for his win with improved speed, benefiting from a recent fin upgrade and some fast downwind sailing. Robert Walsh also had a consistent day to get through ahead of Graham Bantock and took a welldeserved 3rd place. Throughout the fleet there were some big movers on day 2, none more so than Tony Guerrier who came through to take 5th place and GBR Finn skipper David Potter who jumped from 13th overnight up to 7th place, clearly enjoying the open course conditions.
Of the visitors German skipper Nigel Winkley had a solid event once again to take 6th place and French skipper Nicholas Selves did well with some very good races to finish in 8th place. Competitors thanked the Keighley race and catering team led by PRO John Tushingham for hosting an event in warm sunshine and good winds, which showed off Marblehead class racing at its best. Attention now moves on to GBR skipper final preparations for the Magic Marine July Worlds in Gouda, Netherlands. For all UK Marblehead news go to the class website Here
To read more of this article and about this diverse hobby grab the August 2014 back issue of Marine Modelling International Here
Top Ten Results
1st Brad Gibson 14pts, Grunge
2nd Peter Stollery 31.7, Crazy Tube Free
3rd Robert Walsh 44, Starkers Squared
4th Graham Bantock, 48 Quark
5th Tony Guerrier 93, Quark
6th Nigel Winkley 101, Skalpel GER
7th David Potter 104, Crème Cracker
8th Nicholas Selves 120, Quark FRA
9th Derek Priestley 130, Starkers Cubed
10th Darin Ballington 137.4, Rok
RG65 Nationals at Keighley
Only a few weeks after the Marblehead championships the same venue saw the third annual RG65 class championships sailed, a quite interesting coincidence because the RG65 is in effect a half size Marblehead. The club had an entry of just under 30 boats, for the most part standard Dragonforce designs but with 25% of the boats of individual designs to the open rules of the RG65 class. The first day saw horrible weather conditions which included not only strong wind and rain but a very low mist (which could have been rain cloud at this altitude!), that made it very difficult to see the course over the water. The wind also swung around which caused a lot of delay whilst the Race Committee made major adjustments. The second day, by contrast, dawned bright and sunny with a good but not impossible breeze for the fleet to enjoy.
The heats were split into two fleets with the usual 4 promotions from B fleet to A, which meant that a number of skippers were kept pretty busy during the day. Racing was competitive throughout the two fleets with some well-known names having acquired a Dragonforce along with a welcome set of new faces.The overall winner was Agustin Moreno sailing his immaculate Argon but he did not have it all his own way, John Tushingham taking a close second place only two points behind and Mark Dicks sailing a new design named Silver chasing him strongly. The Dragonforce top boat was closely contested between Ken Binks, Buzz Coleman, and Phillip Playle and went down to the last race of the event.
Phil Playle ended up just one point ahead of Buzz Coleman but found himself in front of the scrutineers who checked out all the Dragonforce boats against their very tightly controlled set of restrictions in modifications. Phil’s boat was failed as it had a sticky patch over the ballast bolthole in contravention of the rules, which meant that Buzz Coleman took the newly created Dragon trophy home. Three other Dragonforces were found to have mods not in accordance with the DF regulations but all were allowed to keep their finishing places in the overall RG65 event.
This was the third UK Nationals of the RG65 Class, and there have been great pressures on the class as the result of the huge impact of the Joysway Dragonforce, the prototype of which sailed in the first Nationals at Kingsbury Park in October 2011. The fluid situation is now close to resolution so I will try to summarise the changes afoot.