The Bottle Boat Championships were hosted by Waldringfield Sailing Club on Sunday 7th October 2012. A great deal of fun was had by all competitors ranging in age from 9 to nearly 80 sailing this basic, yet colourful, one design class made mainly from recycled materials. This year’s championship was regarded by many as the best yet, partly because it was sailed in ideal sunny and warm conditions on the River Deben. The wind conditions were perfect with a light northerly wind parallel to the beach against a flood tide. 25 competitors, including 7 juniors, sailed 15 races, equivalent to one and a half Olympic games, over a simple 350 metre ‘sausage’ course. A spreader mark at the windward end and a gate at the leeward end minimised potential collisions and whilst there were some, penalty turns were done without much hesitation or repeated hails from the observers. Family supporters, as well as casual spectators, really enjoyed the intense competition so close to the shore in front of the clubhouse.
After a beautiful sunny dawn, a thick mist descended and this only cleared after the sun burnt it off by Race 3. Race 1 was won by previous champion and junior champion, Paul Morgan, with Wayfarer sailor, Neil Collingridge second and Alan Viney third. These 3 chased each other for the podium positions throughout the event. Cadet sailor, Henry Stone, who was new to radio racing won Race 2, with Alan second and another Wayfarer sailor, Mike Pert, third. Not to be outdone again, Alan won Race 4, with Lark sailor, Chris Fish second and Mike third again. Neil came back to win Race 4 with Tim Norris second and Paul third. Alan Viney kept up the pressure by winning Race 5 from his son Graham with Paul repeating his third place. In Race 6 Wayfarer sailor, Gordon Harris, made a perfect start at the starboard end, but then had trouble in the traffic to let Chris and Neil take the lead and match race each other down the run to finish in that order with Punch sailor, Bernard Kufluk third. Neil stepped up his performance to win Race 7 followed by Paul and Mike, after which there was a very close finish by 5 boats that crossed the line together within a second or so! The race committee watching contemplated the chaos that is likely to be caused by the new RRS Appendix E where the normal radio sailing 2 digit sail numbers are to be hailed by single digits in a most unnatural way. As one of the boats finishing also had a single digit sail number, the new rules would appear to be a recipe for chaos at the start and finish and any situation where several boats need to be hailed clearly and accurately in a hurry. Race 8 saw a new winner in Noel Fraser with Mike second and Alan third. In this race young Henry Stone did very well to recover from being over the line at the start to finishing fourth.
The BOTTLE boat sailors joined new WSC members for a welcome break at the lunchtime barbecue. The lunchtime scores with 2 discards showed Alan in the lead with a score of 18 followed by Neil with 21and Paul with 30.
Refreshed by a very good lunch, Gordon Harris made another good start in Race 9 in the stronger tide, rounded the windward mark first and couldn’t be caught by Neil in second with Alan third. Neil upped his game to take Race 10 in front of Bernard and Tim Norris. At this point the wind became a bit more north-westerly and variable in direction leaving the course briefly in shadow at times. Young Angus Stone picked up the best breeze and made all the running in Race 11 to win from newcomer Peter Dunne, who sailed a very good race to beat Neil into third. For the first time in the event there was a back-to-back winner in the next 2 races when young Paul Morgan beat Neil into second place each time with Howard Ryan third in Race 11 and Tim third in Race 12. Another young sailor, 9-year-old Angus Collingridge, who hadn’t raced radio boats before, was initially having great fun at the back of the fleet until Race 12, when he made a good start, led his dad Neil for some time and finished a creditable eighth. Neil came back to win Race 14 with Noel second and Mike third. The pressure was building for the final race with Henry being the star, tacking on the lifts downwind and getting the most power out of his swing rig by doing so, leaving Alan in second and Tim third.
At the prize giving, PRO Roger Stollery thanked the Lake family and those behind the scenes in the club for providing a fantastic barbecue lunch. He thanked the race team of Peter, Linda, Adrian, Emily for their work on the start/finish line, Sarah for inputting 345 individual scores on the computer and John Smith and Robert Lake on the water for separating entangled competitors and keeping the course adjusted relative to the beach. Neil Collingridge, thanked Roger and his team for running another good event that was much enjoyed by both sailors and spectators alike.
It was very encouraging to have so many junior competitors making up 1/3 of the fleet as well as the few competitors that had done little radio racing before. There were some very good and experienced dinghy sailors taking part and they discovered again that there is more in this side of sport than meets the eye!
1st Neil Collingridge WSC 37, 2nd Allan Viney Guildford 57, 3rd Paul Morgan Guildford 58, 4th Henry Stone WSC 67, 5th Mike Pert WSC 72, 6th Noel Fraser WSC 84, 7th Tim Norris WSC 84, 8th Bernard Kufluk WSC 88, 9th Robert Norris 92, 10th Graham Viney Guildford 95, 11th Chris Fish WSC 124, 12th Gordon Harris WSC 134, 13th John Fish WSC 169, 14th Peter Dunne Guildford 184, 15th Angus Stone WSC 184, 16th Matt Lake WSC 185, 17th Howard Ryan WSC 185, 18th Dot Fraser WSC 205, 19th George Barton/Angus Collingridge WSC 226, 20th Christophe Fraser 244, 21st Hugo Fraser 244, 22nd Simon Kernthaler 253, 23rd Tom/Mark Barton 300.
Report and photos courtesy of Roger Stollery.