Updated: Dec 11, 2021
Firstly, a bit of a summary from the 2021 Season – and what a season it was!
The season started with some uncertainty as to how well attended the events would be due to covid. Fortunately, the first open meeting of the year at Burghfield Sailing Club got lucky. 16 sailors arrived for the one day event, 5 of them visitors. Mike Lyons went onto win the first event of the year.
Next up and with Covid restrictions still looming which unfortunately had an impact on travellers’ accommodation was the Northern Championships. Due to covid the event had a low attendance with just 7 sailors able to take part.
However, it wasn’t all bad news for first time hosts Dee Sailing Club. The competitors would be among the first to lay eyes on the new design sail.
Newcomer to the fleet, Will Gould, took home the Northern Championship trophy and with it a target on his back for the season!
With covid restrictions easing the attendance for the Southern Championships was hopeful, only to be dashed by a very windy forecast for Sunday. However, the eager ones who were chomping at the bit to get back into fleet racing made the journey.
Four of those attending had been lucky enough to get their hands on the brand new sail design developed by Hartley Boats. This soon turned into the “official” launch of the new sail. As they were hoisted the fleet came quickly pacing across the dinghy park to check it out. First impressions were good!
Ben Harden went onto win all three races, with the new sail, followed by Eden Hyland in second also with a new sail – however, in third and only beaten on count back was Nic Tolhurst who was using the old sail. So, it wasn’t seen as a clean sweep for the new design.
Then it was time for the big one, and boy was it a big one!
In fact, the biggest one in history…
With Covid restrictions relaxed the Blaze fleet came back with a vengeance as 70 boats made the start line at the 2021 National Championships, hosted by Paignton Sailing Club.
The Blaze fleet, seeming keener than ever, started to arrive to the English Riviera in dribs and drabs from the Wednesday, some of whom joined the club racing in the evening. However, the majority of the fleet arrived throughout the Thursday, with some even making the journey from as far north as Aberdeen.
During Thursday morning it was quite common to see Will Gould from Hartley Boats being swamped by the masses who had new sails on order and were chomping at the bit to see it in the flesh! Many of whom were keen to get out on the water to test the new sail and make the decision on whether they would stick with the North, which they had tried and tested rig settings for or opt to go for their new Hartley Boats (HB) sail.
After two days of racing, it was Ben Harden from Burnham-On-Crouch who took the win, with a day to spare. Unfortunately, for the rest of the fleet racing was cancelled on Sunday as the wind never arrived.
Top 5 overall
1st – Ben Harden
2nd – Eden Hyland
3rd – Ben Pickering
4th – Malcolm Hutchings
5th - Mike Lyons
Next up on the calendar was the Western Championships. As no other Blaze specific event had been organised in the west this event was tagged onto the Paignton Open for Single Handers, an event usually well attended by the Blaze fleet.
Chris Dyer of North Devon Yacht Club finished an amazing 2nd overall. And with it taking the Western Championship title.
Heading into the end of August, when the weather is supposed to be nice, and it was the turn of the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club to host the Blaze fleet for the eastern Championships. Home to the largest fleet in the country, it was expected to see a good entry, and a good entry it was with 27 getting on the water.
The two days of racing sandwiched an excellent social evening with plenty of fun and games taking place in the RCYC bar.
Nic Tolhurst gave Ben Harden a good battle through all 6 races which were sailed in a variety of wind strengths. However, Nic didn’t quite manage to get past Ben by the finish line, so it was Ben Harden who took the Eastern Championships title.
The last event of the season was hosted by Hornsea Sailing Club, competitors started to arrive on the Friday to beautiful October weather which promised much in the way of lovely sunshine, views, and scenery around Hornsea Mere but less so of wind.
What followed was a weekend of light and shifty racing, where catching every gust was just as important as the shifts!
Burnham boy Charlie Mathews kept his cool through out the two day event and took his first major championships win!
Top 5 overall
1st - Charlie Matthews
2nd - Josh Hyland
3rd - Mark Blackham
4th - Richard Woodcock
5th - Tony Ridley
So, there we have it, a quick summary of 2021! A cracking season despite some of the setbacks.
We recoded a total of 102 different boats entered across each of the seven events. Which means the promise from Richard Hartley of a new class association boat if we can get 100 entries at the 2022 National Championship might not be far from our reach! So, if you know of any Blaze owners or have seen an old Blaze sitting around at your club – do your best to get them back onto the water and to the 2022 Nationals or other events!
A quick thank you must go to all who helped with organising our events this year and a special thank you to our wonderful sponsors who have provided lots of goodies for each of the events. Please support our sponsors where possible!
Now for 2022
Here’s what you can look forward to. Make sure to put the dates in your diary and we will see you there for another epic season of Blaze sailing!
19th March - Burghfield Open Meeting 2022 – Burghfeild Sailing Club
7 & 8th May - POSH Open Meeting 2022 - - Paignton Sailing Club
21st & 22nd May - Southern Championships 2022 – Warsash Sailing Club
10th to 12th June - National Championships 2022 – Stone Sailing Club
20th & 21st August - Eastern Championships 2022 – Royal Corinthian Yacht Club
10th & 11th September - Northern Championships 2022 – Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club
1st & 2nd October - Inland Championships 2022 – Draycote Water Sailing Club
Please remember the Blaze Class Rules have been updated and come into effect 1st January 2022.