The afternoon kicked off with a presentation from defending National Champion John Tushingham sharing his insights into the history & development of the DF65 and the DF95 which he then followed up with boat maintenance advice and tuning tips. It was really refreshing that the bloke we’re all looking to beat is willing to stand up in front of us and tell us exactly how he sets his boat up before the Championships and not afterwards! You can’t say fairer than that and I certainly made a few changes to my setup after the talk so thank you John and long may the openness and good nature of the DF65 Class continue.
And as always happens with these things, the conditions for the Friday afternoon practice session were perfect… solid C rig winds coming straight down the lake under a cobalt blue sky. And no it wasn’t a mirage, it really did happen.
Saturday dawned and the blue skies and golden winds had been replaced with predictable greyness, constant rain and a fraudulent breeze which was under the influence of those blasted hotels on the promenade. We all muttered the familiar refrain ‘you should have been here yesterday’ but the fact we were there yesterday just rubbed damp salt into the wound.
Anyway, the racing kicked off about 10am with 39 competitors across 3 seeding races. With the wind coming in over the hotels it was always going to be a long day with enough holes and big shifts to drive the majority of the fleet crackers. At times it was a real struggle getting to the windward mark… except when you came in on your own personal shift and bamboozled the fleet.. then it was great! best mark placement ever! (as you streaked away) if only it happened every time eh?!
Racing rolled on at a good pace throughout the day which was a testament to the race team… big Tommy Mills on shouting duties, Judith Baldwin quietly and unassumingly doing an amazing job (in the rain) with the scoring and Ken Crabtree wangling his laptop back at the clubhouse and expertly marshalling his race officer troops.
Saturday after hours
After racing concluded on on Saturday evening we held the inaugural Dragonflite 95 Team Race which was won by the ‘The Dark Side’ team comprising: John Tushingham, Chris Chatfield, John Sharman, Ian McDonald and Garry Benson sailing that devious black sailed DF95. The committee has since decided that next year’s team race will be held at midnight (in the pitch black) to even things up a bit 😉
I’m not sure what any of these crazy numbers and scrawls mean, make of them what you will…
And then on to the evening meal. Vats of tasty curry and chilli appeared, pizza’s, garlic breads and salads (not dragged up from the bottom of the lake we promise) followed by Strawberries and Cream which was all devoured in short order. As was the 5 litre bottle of red wine which uncle Derek insisted was drunk before we were allowed to sneak off for a well earned rest.
And then the second day of racing. Again the shifty wind, again the grey skies and one tremendous rain squall. But it’s Fleetwood in July, what else did you expect?!
We raced into the top corner and despite the race team’s best efforts the beat to windward was a game of Russian Roulette, who’s going to blink first and try and get across? not me Vladimir, let someone else pull the trigger! There was a huge bend in the wind towards the top mark and big holes in the middle with 30 degree windshifts that made you feel famous for a minute before things got ugly again within seconds. Tacking on to a massive knock and wallowing around like a donkey on a waterbed gasping for breath is not fast and we all suffered from it. The wind is cruel mistress, we can’t live with her and we certainly can’t live without her in this perplexing wind powered game. And as I always seem to say in these reports we all had our good moments and bad, whether we were rising up into A fleet and hanging in there…
Or the blasted weed was dragging you into C fleet like a vegetative nightmare hell-bent on ruining your weekend (I’m looking at you Mike Parkington, your luck has got to come good soon mate!) I’m sure we’ve all got our own tales of woe and tales of momentary glory to look back on and
bore share with our friends with over the coming weeks! Which lets be honest, is what its all about.
And now to the final results. John Tushingham battled a broken rudder servo, a couple of ‘weedings’ and still managed to navigate himself ahead of Derek Priestley on his home waters for a richly deserved win. I clung on by the skin of my teeth after a good day on Saturday for 3rd followed by Buzz Coleman and Ken Binks who both suffered on Sunday afternoon with the dreaded salad keels which cruelly knocked them out of a couple of vital races.
But more important than the numerical minutiae above, is this picture from the lens of Sue Brown which sums up the weekend for me… just a bunch of great people, little boats and plenty of smiles. It really was a cracking weekend.
Oh and before I forget (and through gritted, envious teeth) we must all congratulate Chris More for winning the Dragonflite 95 in the grand prize draw! Fancy that, coming to the Nationals with a DF65 and going home with its bigger brother! The jealousy is palpable! But regardless, well done Chris, enjoy your boat and hopefully we’ll see you at the DF95 Nationals later in the year?! (@ Lincoln, this coming November, you heard it here first)
Special Mentions and Thankyou’s
Firstly to our most distinguished guest this weekend… Mr Norman Fish who was a former Secretary of Fleetwood MYPBC and Vane 10 Rater National Champion 1960 & 1965. It was an honour to welcome you back to the club Sir, Thank you for coming.
Thanks to Mike Weeston for running the pits and gracing us all with ‘that laugh’ and while there weren’t too many breakdowns to contend with, Mike still kept a few boats in the game that might have otherwise been knocked out. Word has it Mike is heading to the pits himself soon and getting some new knees fitted so he can get back racing next year (once the new knees have been soaked in Corrosion x to stop them wearing out so quick!)
We must of course mention our most travelled competitors, the Swedish team of Benny Johnsson, Magnus Timerdal, Petter Forsen, Carl Malmberg & Mats Bengtsson. Thanks for coming chaps, I was most impressed how quickly ice cold bottles of Stella Artois appeared in your hands after the racing concluded. True professionals!
And finally a massive Thankyou from the whole fleet to the Race Team which comprised:
- Ken Crabtree
- Tommy Mills
- Judith Baldwin
- Graham Gatehouse
- Eddie Greenwood
- Trevor Bell
- Maureen Priestley
- Dorothy Crabtree
- Bob Allen
- Paul Balcombe
I’ll keep this following section open for the photographs and video’s that I’m sure will start appearing soon. I’ll keep my eyes peeled but you can always email me if you’ve got some stuff to share:
Here’s a great video from Tony Wilson and his massive selfie stick: