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Yachting World Dayboat Open at Avon Sailing Club

By Simon Bullingham

Avon Sailing Club Yachting World Dayboat Open © Simon Bullingham

The second Avon SC Yachting World Dayboat open meeting took place on Saturday 3rd June. News of the now legendary hospitality offered at the Avon SC and its family friendly environment led to a record number of 11 entries and considerably more support crew, from across the country.

The sailing area at ASC is over 4 miles long but the river Severn between Tewkesbury and Gloucseter is considerably narrower in places. This led the race committee, headed up by club Commodore Peter Keighley, to decide that flights would be required to ensure all the boats could start in safety.

The 14ft dayboat is a craft which has an illustrious history, the first plans being advertised in 1949. The class rules allow some hull flexibility, and there were two wooden clinker and both smooth and clinker GRP boats in attendance. At the event, were the 3 newest boats and 3 boats from the early 1970’s. This versatile craft has been raced competitively for decades. It has also been used for creek bashing and costal cruising, including a remarkable 200 mile trip from Thornbury to Newlyn, round Lands End, in a gale.

The whole event had a magic family feel, with many of the crews and their families camping at the club. Like the boats, the age range of the crews also varied considerably with most of them crewed by youth sailors, including 7 year old Martha Wylie. At the other end of the range, two of the helms are rumoured to be around the Octogenarian mark but (if they are) you definitely would not know it based on the results. This is particularly true, given that one of the helms (possibly closer to being a Nonagenarian) put a cover over his boom and slept in his 14 ft wooden clinker boat, showing the younger sailors a bit of resilience in action! Peter Hewitt impressively managed to sail with 3 of his grandchildren Henry, Max and Stan in the 3 flight races. Matt Straker having refurbished Daydreamer over the winter was supported in the flight stages by his (wonderfully feral) nephew Laurie.

Avon Sailing Club Yachting World Dayboat Open © Simon Bullingham
Avon Sailing Club Yachting World Dayboat Open © Simon Bullingham

The conditions were perfect, a decent breeze around 7-12 knots from the NE for most of the weekend. It really was champagne sailing.

The flights stage was perfectly managed by the race committee and although some of the helms managed to get confused by the (not terribly complicated) intermediate marks, the racing was under way without a hitch.

Flights Stage Results:

Sail NoBoat NameNamesClubRound 1Round 2Round 3Pts
678GroovieMike HewittRYA7112
676MalloryJames HewittBosham3123
669MerlinPete HewittPoole1423
647AliceColin BlewettPoole2413
677GenevieveSimon BullinghamASC1364
619Moody BlueRobboASC2234
621DaydreamerMatt StrakerHamble3255
648ShamalRichard MillerASC5347
565AvocetTim ParkinsonThornbury7538
574AttilaDave AllenThornbury4559
553Proud MaryPaul BowdenThornbury66410

The top six boats went through to the Cup Final including fleet newcomer Jon “Robbo” Gent crewed by John Bullingham, with the remaining 5 going through to the Bowl Final competition.

The cup final was a closely fought competition with James Hewitt crewed by Cora managing to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, from younger sibling Mike, crewed by Steve Creasey. This resulted in Mike winning the event for the second time. Colin and Christine Blewett managed to hold off Pete Hewitt to take third place and prevent a Hewitt 1-2-3.

Cup Final Results:

PosSail NoBoat NameClubNamesRound 1Round 2Round 3Total pointsCup FinalFinal Points
1678GroovieRYAMike Hewitt711213
2676MalloryFrenshamJames Hewitt312325
3647AlicePooleColin Blewett241336
4669MerlinPoolePete Hewitt142347
5677GenevieveASCSimon Bullingham136459
6619Moody BlueASCRobbo2234610

The Bowl final was also keenly contested but local favourites Dickie Miller and Tracy Lashford used their knowledge of the river (and having finally rigged the boat properly) managed to get a flying start which they held to the end. Matt Straker and Freddie Gent finished second and Tim Parkinson crewed by Zanna Gent third.

Bowl Final Results:

PosSail NoBoat NameNamesClubRound 1Round 2Round 3Total pointsBowl FinalFinal Points
1621DaydreamerMatt StrakerHamble325527
2648ShamalRichard MillerASC534718
3565AvocetTim ParkinsonThornbury7538311
4574AttilaDave AllenThornbury4559413
5553Proud MaryPaul BowdenThornbury66410515

The Sunday race was a more relaxed affair being a 2 mile beat, up to the Lower Lode pub. Normal order was resumed with Peter Hewitt crewed by Louise Brown showing everyone the way, followed by Mike Hewitt crewed by Henry and Stan. Tim and Diana Parkinson finished 3rd. Simon Bullingham with Hugh Straker and William Hewitt narrowly beat Matt and Cora Straker to the line. The return journey was a gentle cruise all the way back to the ASC with the tide and wind behind the fleet. A great way to finish an amazing weekend.

Thanks must go to the race committee for a really slick job, the safety boat crews, the catering committee (and BBQ crew) and, of course, the bar team for keeping a group of over 40 campers sustained over the weekend.

Thanks to all the competitors for supporting the event and best of luck to all the YWDB crews at their national championships in Rock.

To see the article as published in YachtsandYachting please see here