By David MacFarlane
A strong fleet of 22 boats gathered at Brixham Yacht club over the week of the 23rd July, to compete in the YWDB Class National Championships. All the major clubs with fleets of DBs were well represented.
In addition, we were also joined by two entrants who travelled hundreds of miles to be in Brixham. Tommy Bennett from Scotland brought his fastidiously restored 1956 clinker built boat, and 20 year old Jack Young from Royal Cork Yacht club joined us with his immaculate cold moulded version built by his grandfather Don Young.
This year we also had six young sailors aged between 7-14 years old, crewing their fathers on alternate days.
Brixham Yacht Club is an ideal venue for DB Week as they are able to accommodate the boats either on shore or afloat on their pontoon.
The programme consisted of 5 points races and a stand-alone Long Distance Race on the Tuesday. In addition, there was an ‘Opportunity race’ which gave the chance for ladies, crews and cadets to take the helm and compete for three separate trophies. Another tradition of DB week is to run different style courses each day which keeps the Race Officer and mark layers on their toes.
After registration and welcome drinks on Saturday evening, and an excellent fish and chip supper provided by the host club, we were ready for the hot competition of the week ahead:
Day 1 – The course for Race 1 on Sunday was a 4 lap triangle/ sausage with an 18-25 knot westerly wind forecast. 16 boats made it to the start line. The first clean start of the week soon saw some of the heavy weather crews powering to the front of the fleet and thoroughly enjoying the surfing conditions on the offwind legs.
The race proved to be a battle amongst three generations of the Hewitt family. Father Peter, crewed by Chis Lockett (DB 669 Poole YC), his son Michael Hewitt with Steve Creasy crewing (DB678 RYA) and James Hewitt (DB676 Bosham SC) crewed on the day by his 9 year old son Henry.
The race for the lead was very tight until Michael found a significant port hand lift off the cliffs to establish a winning lead which he held to the finish. He was followed by Peter & Chris and then James & Henry in third place.
Day 2 – The forecast for Tuesday’s scheduled back to back points races was only slightly less than on Sunday. The course selection for the day was a trapezoid.
The first race witnessed a fantastic piece of seamanship when the gooseneck on Jack Young’s boat (DB657 Royal Cork YC) sheared off mid race. Jack and his crew Ellie Aneiros managed to lash the boom back to the mast, but the problem they then had was that on each tack the boom had to be manhandled to the other side of the mast! To their huge credit they not only overcame this significant handicap but also sailed brilliantly to take first place ahead of Peter & Chris with James & his 7 year old son William finishing in third place.
The Hewitt dynasty reigned supreme in the second race of the day with Peter & Chris taking a hard earned 1st place with sons Michael in 2nd place, and James picking up a consecutive third place finish. It was a slightly diminished and pretty exhausted fleet that made their way back to the club.
So, after the completion of three points races the Hewitt’s had a very strong hold on the leading overall positions. After a discard, Peter was leading on 3 points but equal on points with Michael, and James third on 5 points.
Monday evening is quiz night and the tradition is that whoever won the previous year has to take over the role of quizmaster the following year. So, Bob and Kath Davis (the class treasurer and membership secretary) stepped up and ran a hugely enjoyable and successful evening.
Day 3 – The wind on Tuesday was markedly different from the previous days, with barely a ripple across the whole of Torbay. The scheduled race of the day was the Long Distance Race.
The original plan was an extended race around buoys in the bay, finishing outside the Marina in Torquay, followed by a sandwich lunch at the Royal Torbay Yacht Club before a leisurely and very informal reverse pursuit race back to Brixham. Unfortunately, by the time a slightly feeble 3-4 knot breeze filled in, there simply wasn’t enough time to get over to Torquay and back, so a large triangular course was set on the Brixham side of the Bay.
The right-hand side of the initial beat proved to be the way to go and three boats took that option breaking clear of the rest of the fleet. Peter & Chris showed their all-weather ability and led at the windward mark followed closely by relative newcomers to DB sailing Nigel & Isabelle Russell (DB614 Bosham SC) and David & Fiona Macfarlane (DB597 Bosham SC) in third place.
There was no change of positions down the long broad reach to a buoy off Paignton pier and the three boats maintained the same positions at the finish off Brixham Harbour.
Day 4 – The light conditions continued into Wednesday when the fourth points race was due to be run, followed immediately by the Opportunity race. The PRO Peter Lytton very wisely kept the fleet ashore for an hour by which time a steady 6 knot breeze had developed. The course for the day was a windward/leeward with a spreader and gate.
A late shift during the starting procedure created a hint of port bias and the boats that were able to tack onto port immediately after the start had a significant advantage. At the windward mark last year’s Day Boat champions Alastair & Jacqui Seaton (DB653 Bosham SC) very narrowly led from David & Fiona.
This order was maintained for the next lap. However, on lap 3, Mark & Shirley Stanton (DB673 Bosham SC) took full advantage of a favourable offshore shift and took over the lead which they extended and held to the finish. All three of the overnight series leaders scored results that would later count as their discards.
After a brief delay to swap crews a very encouraging 14 boat fleet came to the line for the Opportunity race, sailing a shortened version of the morning course. The start was highly competitive which resulted in the only occasion in the week when a general recall flag was flown!
The three individual winners of the race were Ellie Aneiros (1st Lady), Chris Lockett (1st crew) and Genevieve Bullingham (1st cadet) Following the annual class AGM, the entertainment on Wednesday night of DB Week is traditionally devoted to shanty singing. And the team from Gravesend SC, very ably led by Steve Davies, provided a wonderful evening which was thoroughly enjoyed by all.
Day 5 – Another light wind day was forecast for the final points race on Thursday. All three Hewitt boats, Pete, Michael and James were still in with a chance of taking the overall prize.
The course for the day was a reverse “P” which had the mark layers scratching their heads!
Alastair & Jacqui Seaton took the inshore route to the first mark and emerged with a narrow lead from Nigel & Isabelle Russell. Crucially, Pete Hewitt & Chris Lockett worked their way up through the fleet and rounded third with their other adversaries for the overall title in mid fleet. These positions were held to the finish which earned Pete & Chris the Champion Dayboat title.
Alastair & Jacqui’s last race win moved them up into the runners up position and Jack & Ellie’s 4th place in the final race earned them 3rd place overall. (Full results below)
On Thursday evening, Brixham YC laid on an excellent prize-giving dinner, which was briefly interrupted by a sighting of a school of dolphins just off the club’s pontoon!
The YWDB class, originally designed in 1949, has over the years amassed a huge array of magnificent trophies and these were awarded by Fiona Macfarlane to many deserving winners.
Our thanks go to Richard Spreckley, Commodore of Brixham YC for hosting the week and to Adrian Morrall, the event director who was hugely involved organising all the logistics leading up to the week and was a key member of the mark laying team. A special thanks goes to Peter Lytton the PRO and his committee boat team who delivered outstanding race management throughout the week.
We are already looking forward to next year’s DB Week at Rock SC which is scheduled to take place from 24th-30th June 2023.
1st DB669 Peter Hewitt & Chris Lockett (Poole YC) 9pts
2nd DB653 Alastair & Jacqui Seaton (Bosham SC) 13pts
3rd DB657 Jack Young & Ellie Aneiros (Royal Cork YC) 14pts
4th DB673 Mark & Shirley Stanton (Bosham SC) 16pts
5th DB676 James & Henry/William Hewitt (Bosham SC) 16pts
6th DB678 Michael Hewitt & Steve Creasy (RYA) 18pts
The full results are available here: Brixham YW Dayboat Week 2022 Results
To see the article as published in YachtsandYachting please see here