Toby Dale and James Cole win the Flying Dutchman nationals at Whitstable
The Flying Dutchman national championship took place at Whitstable Yacht Club, in good weather and varied winds over the Bank Holiday weekend. Five races out of the scheduled six were completed and there was a mixture of conditions.
The first race on the Saturday started with gusts of 12-15 knots. The fleet quickly learnt that the left-hand side of the course was best, with more wind and less tide. Peter Doran and Richard Phillips rounded the windward mark first followed by Toby Dale and James Cole. A good start and first beat saw Vicky Parry and Ben Stirrup round close by with Tony Lyall and Colin Burns. Toby/ James squeezed inside at the wing mark to gain first. A capsize by Vicky/ Ben saw Tony/ Colin take third by some distance and the top three places were then set for the remainder of the race. With Rosie and Neil Pye taking fourth, Vicky and Ben recovered quickly so a race was on with Jamie Whitaker and Pete Hadfield for fifth. Jamie and Pete sailed an excellent last beat to ensure they finished ahead.
By the second race the wind had decreased and reading the beats proved crucial. Toby/ James led from the start, closely followed by Peter/ Richard, 3rd and 4th place was battled for during the first lap but eventually more experienced boat handling allowed Tony/ Colin to get ahead of one of the newest pairings in the fleet, Vicky/ Ben. Another new pairing to the class of Tom Reynolds and John Macaulay sailed a close race with Jamie/Pete only narrowly losing out. Dawn Barsley/ Steve Hammond fought hard for 7th narrowly loosing out to Rosie/ Neil. In the evening the fleet enjoyed a good BBQ and entertainment from a local band.
Conditions on Sunday were very light and tricky for the first race, tacking on headers and clear air proved essential as well as taking the strong tide into account. The fleet were close up the first beat but judging the layline was proving difficult due to the tide and windshifts. The first few of the fleet round the windward mark broke away with the tide under them, the final order saw Toby/ James 1st, Peter/ Richard 2nd and Tony/ Colin 3rd. By race two the wind had built slightly and large wind shifts saw Peter/ Richard gain a comfortable lead in the race. This was invaluable if they were to stay in contention for the Title. Overall leaders at the time Toby/ James had a poor beat and saw themselves in fourth place requiring them to do some heavy thinking about tactics in order to recover. Peter/ Richard sailed a good tactical race throughout to ensure they got first place, Toby/ James just edged Tony/ Colin for 2nd. The mixed pair battle between Rosie/ Neil and Vicky/ Ben continued, however, two 4th places by Rosie/ Neil saw them go ahead on points.
On Monday morning racing looked in jeopardy with very little wind promised however, after a postponement a breeze filled in and the first of two scheduled races was sailed. There were a few nervous crews who knew that things were still open on the score sheet. Leaders Toby/ James had to beat Peter/ Richard to guarantee title, this resulted in a close race with Peter/ Richard ahead at the start but a gibing match down the run saw Toby/ James edge ahead to take the gun. In the mixed pairs, a single point separated the two boats in contention, however, despite a fine start by Vicky/ Ben a late tack for the mark and some errors saw Rosie and Neil get clear ahead to extend the margin to two points.
Despite valiant efforts by the Race Officer to complete the final race, the wind finally died leaving the fleet becalmed, as sensible decision was taken to cancel the last race.
1st – Toby Dale and James Cole (GBR 382)
2nd – Peter Doran and Richard Phillips (GBR 377)
3rd – Tony Lyall and Collin Burns (GBR 385)
Westwood Trophy & Mixed Trophy – Rosie and Neil Pye (GBR373)
1st Newcomer – Ben Stirrup (GBR 383)
1st Wooden Boat – Jamie Whitaker and Peter Hadfield (GBR 38)
1st in 5th Race – Toby Dale and James Cole (GBR 382)