Saturday 31st May and Sunday 1st June 2014 saw Coalhouse Fort MBC host the ‘A’ Class National Championships, with Geoff Appleton as Principal Race Officer. Although the weekend as a whole was warm and sunny there was a distinct lack of wind at times which created significant difficulties for Graham Childs, the Assistant Race Officer, in setting suitable courses.
As skippers arrived at the venue on the Saturday morning there was basically no wind. However, by the time the briefing had completed there was a very slight breeze from the ENE which was virtually blowing across the lake into the face of the skippers. As the morning progressed, the wind started to veer round to the NE causing several course changes and at times increased in strength to quite a blow creating a challenge for the skippers.
By lunch time and after one discard, with two wins and a second, Darin Ballington had established a lead over a trio of skippers, namely Graham Bantock, Ken Binks and Peter Wiles, all vying for second place. If it had not been for a retirement in Race 3, David Munro could have been up there too.
Following the lunch break, the wind had veered round to a more northerly direction and a more consistent strength and as such enabling Graham Childs to set a course with only minor changes. By the end of the afternoon, with 8 races completed and two discards, due to Graham Bantock and Peter Wiles’ more consistent scoring and Darin having a bad afternoon, Graham and Peter both moved ahead of Darin, with Ken Binks still hovering in fourth place.
An interesting and eventful days racing with the top four skippers all in a position to take the overall win and so to tomorrow!!
Sunday morning greeted the skippers with the same weather conditions as the previous day and so it was hoped the wind would increase again. However, by the end of the briefing there was still not enough wind to allow Graham Childs to set a course and so the start of racing was delayed for about 30 minutes. Eventually a course was set and the first race of the day got underway, with what little wind there was from the NNE. The conditions were quite challenging which was the cause of a number of contacts in the ‘B’ heat, but all incidents were resolved on the water. The wind continued to vary in strength, if you can call it that, from nothing to a slight breeze even during a heat, such that Geoff Appleton the Principal Race Officer took the decision to take an early lunch – inevitably five minutes later the wind grew significantly in strength for about 10 minutes or so and then dropped off again.
During this morning session, Darin Ballington recovered some of his consistency, although Graham Bantock increased his lead to 9 points over Darin, Peter and Ken who all continued to battle for second place with two points separating them.
During the afternoon session, whilst the wind seemed to increase in strength very slightly there were significant changes in direction, as much as 180o, causing several course changes. During this time, Graham Bantock and Ken Binks both maintained their positions due to some consistent racing, whilst Darin Ballington and Peter Wiles both dropped away as a consequence of both of them having two bad races. After retiring in race 13, in race 14 Darin had a coming together with Roy Stevens and Arjan van der Cingel from Holland which resulted in a request for redress from Arjan, which was agreed following a Protest Hearing after racing was completed for the day.
The winner and 2014 Radio National champion is Graham Bantock, Graham was the most consistent skipper over the 2 days and managed to use his skill and experience to achieve an enviable score with nothing lower than a 6th position.
In addition to winning the ‘A’ Boat National Championship, Graham Bantock won Round 7 of the PRACC series, The Apples Trophy and the Eastern District ‘A’ Class Championship.
The real battle however was for 2nd, 3rd and 4th with Ken Binks, Darin Ballington and Pete Wiles fighting hard for the podium spots. Some very tight races saw all three skipper taking points off each other, with Darin looking to be the victor until a retirement in race 13 and subsequent poor race 14 gave Ken the opportunity to grab 2nd spot.
All racing was undertaken with a great spirit and as newcomer Brian O Neil (travelled all the way from Northern Ireland, welcome to the fleet, Brian) said, in a “gentlemanly fashion” and everyone left after the prize giving with a renewed interest in the class.
|3||Darin Ballington||98||Manor Park||Sword||48.0||5.0||1.0||2.0||1.0||2.0||7.0||6.0||6.0||3.0||2.0||2.0||1.0||12.0||15.0||10.0|
|4||Peter Wiles||59||Poole||Sweet 9||51.0||1.0||4.0||5.0||4.0||4.0||2.0||1.0||2.0||6.0||5.0||3.0||10.0||6.0||8.0||14.0|
|5||Vernon Appleton||36||Coalhouse Fort||Sword||56.0||4.0||6.0||7.0||3.0||1.0||8.0||14.0||4.0||5.0||3.0||6.0||5.0||2.0||4.0||6.0|
|13||Arjan van der Cingel||67||RZN||Sweet 9||134.0||5.0||15.0||4.0||10.0||8.0||9.0||13.0||12.0||16.0||9.0||13.0||12.0||9.0||15.0||19.0|
|14||Bob Conner||5||Woodspring||Sweet 9||152.0||3.0||11.0||14.0||14.0||17.0||12.0||11.0||16.0||14.0||14.0||8.0||13.0||15.0||10.0||13.0|
|15||Damian Ackroyd||101||Leeds Bradford||Sir Percy||156.0||4.0||13.0||16.0||15.0||14.0||13.0||7.0||9.0||12.0||17.0||16.0||17.0||13.0||9.0||15.0|
|17||Brian O’Neil||60||East Down||?||185.0||8.0||18.0||13.0||11.0||19.0||17.0||17.0||14.0||17.0||15.0||15.0||18.0||17.0||12.0||11.0|