By Trevor Bawden
Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club hosted the 2023 finale of the Blaze sailing calendar, hosting the Inland Championships and respectively concluded the Traveller's Series.
The prospect of a fantastic forecast for a weekends sailing attracted visitors from Pembrokeshire to Aberdeen, Essex and beyond.
A lot of the long-haul travellers arrived on Friday evening and were greeted by near freezing temperatures. Autumn had definitely arrived - or, for most Southerns, it seemed more like winter!
The club made up for cold temperatures with a very warm welcome and a takeaway from the local curry house to fuel us for the weekend ahead, and to keep the frost off the tents!
Saturday morning dawned with a building breeze and by the time we were all briefed of the local racing marks, the wind was blowing a steady 18-20+ knots. During the preparatory signals the wind built a little more, which was testing everybody’s boat handling skills and saw the first of many capsized boats of the weekend.
Race 1 got underway and it quickly became evident who'd had more practice in the stronger winds than others. Our ex-Chairman, Richard, found himself questioning his weekend choices whilst trying to work out which way up his boat was quickest! The race concluded with Christian, Will and Malcolm claiming the top spots.
An unusual format for a lot of us, we returned ashore for lunch. It is said that no sailing is good enough to deprive the Yorkshire folk of their Tea!
Venturing back out from the warm clubhouse fuelled by a lovely hot lunch, we were greeted by darkening skies and reports that the RO was recording 34 knots of wind, which led to most of us taking shelter whilst the weather front passed.
Malcolm, on the other hand, still revelling in the great first race result decided to launch, then rapidly spent the next ten minutes inspecting the underside of his boat.
Race 2 got underway with the passing of the weather front leaving us with some champagne sailing conditions. The compact fleet, saw some great racing throughout.
Race 3 brought the return of the dark clouds and fairly testing gusts. Making gains through the fleet with good boat handling was the key to success. Christian showed us all how it should be done, taking a lead by over a leg, while many of the fleet opted for a safe tack-at-the-gybe-marks (known in Essex as a Pink Gybe)!
Ashore for a great sociable evening catching up with some new and old Blazers whilst enjoying a lovely meal cooked by the chef of the local pub. Many of us watched Wales and Ireland failing in the Rugby World Cup whilst others non Rugby fans, were relaxing in the club hot tub!
On Sunday morning we were greeted by a ground frost and frozen boats, and a steady 8 knots.
There were scenes likened to a LeMans Start with no one wanting venture out in the cold until the last possible minute.
Race 4 proved to be tricky for the RO to get underway with the breeze slowly increasing and veering left creating a substatial port bias on the line and up the beat. Keith read the situation perfectly and capitalised on an early lead, staying ahead to the finish!
Race 5 brought a strengthening breeze and a test of tired bodies. This made for some tough racing throughout the fleet and one-on-one battles. A perfect end to a great championship.
A huge congratulations to Christian Smart for taking top spot in this year’s inland championship.
2023 Inland Championship results.
1st Chris Smart - Pembrokeshire Yacht Club
2nd Will Gould - Carsington Sailing Club
3rd Nick Hunt - Scaling Dam Sailing Club
Traveller Series results page coming soon...
Our thanks go to Tim Heaton and Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club for a warm Northern welcome and a well-organised event, to Imogen the well-tested RO and her safety boat team who were kept pretty busy. The caterers from the local Clarendon Hotel who provided a delicious Saturday evening meal and manned the bar. Thanks to Paul Hargreaves Photography for braving the conditions to return with some excellent work.
Also, of course, thanks to Hartley for their support of this event in providing the super glassware that every entrant took home.