2008 National Championships at Llandudno Sailing Club & Poole Yacht Club

photos of racing at Poole YC by Mike Millard - click to expand

The 2008 English broke several records, with the first ever lady national champion in the form of Emma Barry and secondly it is believed this is the first National Championship to be completed over two different venues and in fact two different countries.

74 boats in total participated in the 2008 Nationals, firstly starting in Llandudno SC North Wales over the whitsun bank holiday weekend, but as is becoming more common with the UK this produced several days of inclement weather, that delivered windy conditions more akin the winter, which despite the gallant efforts of the hosts meant only one race could be completed. Poole YC then stood up to the challenge, agreeing to allow the outstanding races to be run at their club a few weeks later. Here again the event succumbed to strong winds with only three races to be sailed and one days racing lost, fortunately this gave four races in total sufficient to decide the outcome of the National Championships.

Report from 2008 National Champion, Emma Barry:

The Mirror Nationals started on the 24th May at Llandudno and began with a Northern onshore wind of about 15 knots creating a rough sea.

After the briefing, we set off on the long trek down the promenade to our boat and got ready to launch through the crashing waves with the help of parents volunteering to get their feet wet. With the state of the sea, it was only possible to launch all the boats off one slipway one at a time. We were the first to be launched. Many stood and watched to see how it was going to be achieved. Launching took 2 hours and inflicted serious injuries to 3 adult helpers; one with a broken hand, a second with cut fingers and a third was washed off the slipway and suffered from shock.

By the time the race started the wind had picked up to 25 knots and the waves were over 3 metres high so visibility was lost in the troughs.

We got a good start in the middle of the line in the front row and worked hard up the first beat to round the windward mark in 3rd place. The next leg was a run and being light and using the waves to our advantage we very quickly overhauled the 2005 Mirror World Champion Ross Kearney who was the boat ahead. Shortly afterwards Ross saw a sailor in the water separated from their boat and altered course to rescue them. The leading boat sailed by Tom and James Lovesey got lost sailing past the leeward gate, so we started the next beat in the lead. Again we worked hard to keep the boat moving over the waves and pulled out from the pack behind us. It was on this leg we realised how the rest of the fleet were struggling as we passed boats that had capsized and were still on the first leg. I could roughly remember where the windward mark was having rounded it some 20 minutes earlier. We then rounded the mark and pulled the spinnaker up, I couldn’t see the gybe mark so all I could do was to sail towards where I expected it to be and hope that as soon as possible we would be on the top of a wave at the same time as the buoy, so we could see the buoy because otherwise it was lost in the troughs. Half way along the leg Martina spotted the buoy and I was not far off with my guess so it was only a small change of direction to lay the buoy. The gybe mark was under the cliffs in a big sea and when we finished the gybe we were aiming at the pier. I luffed up to the lay line of the leeward mark and we continued to pull out on the rest of the fleet. We surfed down the waves and rounded the final buoy and sailed through the finish line to win the race.

It was then that the race officer abandoned racing for the rest of the day so as boats finished they sailed in. Parents were expecting 3 races so they were not ready on the beach with enough people to lift boats out of the water and no trolleys were in position on the beach. We came in under control and the boat was lifted out onto the beach, but I can’t say the same for the rest of the fleet. Immediately after we were ashore, Ross who was following Natalie Roach caught a wave and ran into the back of her boat, holing his boat and breaking her mast. Things did not improve for the rest of the fleet with a further 10 masts being broken and further damage inflicted to the boats, most of the damage was caused by waves breaking and pushing the boats onto the beach. The severity of the weather resulted in only 29 boats finishing the race, so just to finish was an achievement.

This turned out to be the only race of the four days at Llandudno, with the wind increasing, thus causing the waves to break sooner as they came into the beach, making it impossible to launch or recover the boats and after the disaster of the first day the race officer did not risk going out again, but we had not won yet as in the sailing instructions it stated that 2 races were needed to constitute a series. It was decided by the Mirror committee to use the next nationwide series event to be held at Poole to continue the nationals on the 21/22 June.

We arrived at Poole and by this time I had finished my A levels. We rigged and launched in southerly winds of about 16 knots and did our practice beat and got all our information we needed for the races ahead. We were sharing the race course with the Laser fleet who started 5 minutes before us, which we used to our advantage as this confirmed to me that the end I wanted to start at was the biased end. I found a transit showing me where the start line was and with 50 seconds to go I realised that 95% of the fleet were holding back, so we sailed flat out at the line from 20 seconds so we didn’t give away where the line was to the other boats which kept that to our advantage. We rounded the windward mark in second place just behind our local rival Millie Newman sailing with Michael Conlon. We were patient keeping ourselves just behind them ready to attack at the first opportunity, this came on the third leg which was a beat where we overtook them and maintained maximum speed on the run with Martina flying the spinnaker extremely well enabling us to pull away. Even though we had a good lead we still pushed ourselves for the final loop round the course and crossed the line well ahead of Andy Smith, the 2004 fireball world champion who finished in second place.

In the second race the boats were still holding back, but not quite as much as they had in the first race so we lost our advantage, but we didn’t let that get us down and we rounded the first mark in 5th place. We sailed the run very well getting ourselves up to 3rd, and we stayed 3rd for the beat with Andy Smith ahead of us and Henry Spreckley leading. Andy got the lead on the reach and on the penultimate leg we pulled through and finished in 2nd place.

In the final race of the day and as we found out later the final race of the event, the race officers decided to give the Lasers an extra lap.

This race was looking good for us and we were lying 4th on the second beat, but the wind had picked up, and a lack of communication between myself and Martina resulted in us hitting too many waves which reduced our boat speed and we rounded the windward mark 8th. Normally we would pull back some places on the final leg, but with the lasers doing an extra lap and they got in the way and slowed us down and we finished 8th. The race was won by Ross Kearney who overtook Natalie Roach near the finish after it looked as though she had an unassailable lead but suffered from the same problem as we did from the Laser fleet.

Even though I wasn’t pleased with this result we still had the lowest aggregate score of the day, so were leading the nationals and the nationwide series event at Poole at the end of the day.

The winds were forecast to pick up over night and we were told to expect a delay anyway due to a lack of water with the tide being out, but we arrived early and got the boat ready. Our sail maker Tim Rush had come down for the day to see how the event was going and had arrived to see the wind consistently gusting 35 mph which is too strong for the mirrors to sensibly race in without lots of damage, so the race was postponed. The Lasers fleet had decided by 11 am to abandon it but the race officer waited to see if the wind would die down before he made his decision for the Mirrors but the wind showed no sign of dropping, so at 12 noon the decision was made to cancel racing. This meant the boats could be packed up ready for the road and then it was prize giving.

Winning this event has made Martina and I the 2008 Mirror National Champions and I am particularly proud to be the first female helm ever to win the Mirror Nationals in its 45 years existence.

Brightlingsea Sailing Club won the team shield on countback from Itchenor Sailing Club.

Overall Results: (top ten)

Pos Sail No Helm Crew Club R1 R2 R3 R4 Pts
1st 69776 Emma BARRY Martina BARRY Brightlingsea SC 1 1 2 -8 4
2nd 70506 Ross KEARNEY Katy JONES Staunton Harold 2 RDG 5 -6 1 8
3rd 70139 Natalie ROACH Grace ROACH Royal Navy Sailing 3 -8 5 2 10
4th 70513 Andy Smith Tom SMITH Notts County SC -12 2 1 9 12
5th 70499 Henry SPRECKLEY George SPRECKLEY Itchenor 2 7 3 -15 12
6th 70504 Hugo SLOPER Aiden McCartney Itchenor -13 4 7 7 18
7th 70515 Edward GREY Bethany GREY Rwyc 10 -23 9 3 22
8th 70356 David CONLON Mitchell BOND Brightlingsea Sailing Club 6 -11 11 5 22
9th 70442 Emma SPRUCE Lucy Ford Brightlingsea (67 DNF) 3 8 13 24
10th 70154 Tom LOVESEY Millie Pugh RYA / Poole YC 7 12 -16 6 25
 

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