A total of 91 boats turned out for last weekend's Mirror national championship at Poole
With 91 entries, record numbers for recent years, the Poole Yacht Club Mirror Nationals 2005 was set to be an extraordinary event and with the previous two times national champion Dan Ellis not attending a new champion would be named. The standard of entry was none the less exceptionally high, with champions from other classes competing and the 1978 National Champion returning in the Bronze Fleet.
Saturday morning arrived with a vast range of sailors registering thick and fast including six single-handers, junior teams, parent and child teams and covering an amazing age range of seven to 75 years. Several families entered more than one boat, allowing parents to compete against their children and siblings to battle it out.
However, as the morning drew on it became more and more apparent to all, that racing was unlikely to get underway. With a constant 30 knots and gusts of 50, the Race Officer postponed racing several times with boats still not launched, before making the decision to finally abandon racing for the day. Needless to say all of the sailors made the most of the situation, enjoying the music and the social side of the sport and receiving some expert coaching from Rob Grieg-Gran for the more junior sailors.
Having lost three races on day 1, it was hoped to sail 6 races on the Sunday to complete the 9 races planned. Sailors returned to the Yacht Club to frustratingly find very little wind. Racing was postponed again until the early afternoon when the wind began to fill in. Racers where sent out in a steady, but very shifty Force 2-3.
After two general recalls and with time rapidly slipping away the chance of getting six races in became more and more unlikely so the Black Flag was raised for the third start. Finally the fleet got away, but not without casualties, with two boats being caught over the line. From the start Anna Mackenzie and Will Kalderon got themselves into extremely good positions and heading out to the right they and others found themselves with a huge advantage over the fleet that had sailed left. Not only was there more pressure and less tide, but half way up the beat a massive wind shift gave them a lift. However, the race officer decided that this was too great an advantage and abandoned the race and the sailors went ashore still not having completed any races. After a quick break, the sailors launched again at 1600 and another start sequence began, going straight into a Black Flag start. This time all boats were clear and racing was underway. Jamie Knill and Anna Mackenzie came off the line and quickly built up a substantial lead. This lead was held until the final leeward mark where Anna gained water on Jamie and took first position on the last leg of the race. Meanwhile further back there was a pileup on the gybe mark involving 10 or so boats with positions changing all the time.
With the wind filling in things were looking up and two more races were completed, both starting on a Black Flag, with the last boat coming ashore after 2000.
On the final day of racing, with three races planned (to make six), a Black Flag sequence was used for all races. Race 4 started with the fleet split coming off the line, some going to the starboard side and others going to the port. It soon became apparent that the middle-port side of the course was paying off and at the windward mark Juliet and Richard Long came out on top, closely followed by Peter Gray. The majority of the fleet overlaying the buoy meant that considerable gains could be made and with the bulk of the fleet staying on the same gybe to the leeward buoy, positions remained fairly constant. Despite this the Longs and Peter Gray continued to lead the fleet and the first five broke away. With the wind tunnelling down Wareham River gybing after the windward mark seemed to pay, with Juliet Long taking full advantage to win the race.
Anna Mackenzie and Holly Scott went into the final race leading the championship, which were still wide open, as they had been all weekend, with several boats still vying to become the national champions. Again the winds were extremely shifty and positions were constantly and dramatically changing all through the course. However, father and son team, Hector and Ben Cisneros of Reading SC finished off a very consistent weekend’s sailing with their first win to take the overall title as Mirror national champions.
The Silver Fleet for Zone Squad members was won by Sam and Ed Nicholls of Maidenhead, achieving 22nd overall in their first nationals. The Bronze fleet for the older boats and non squad junior sailors was won by Martyn and Kieran Ellis of Scaling Dam SC in their 33-year-old boat, Martyn the 1978 Champion has now returned to Mirror sailing with his son.
The singlehanders had an exciting competition, with some overcoming their five minutes start handicap to overhaul many double handers. However, Ben Houghton of Weir Quay SC won four out of the six races to take the overall honours.
1st 69912 Benina Milkshake, Hector and Ben Cisneros Reading 25pts
2nd 70172 Av It, Anna Mackenzie and Holly Scott Royal Windermere 27 pts
3rd 70222 Whatever, John and Jamie Clemontson Hamble 38 pts
4th IRL 69917 Balls of Fire, Simon McGrotty and Melissa Daly Skerries 42 pts
5th 70333 Vengeance, Juliet and Richard Long Plym 46 pts
6th 69675 Swallow, John and Megan Brickwood Hamble 49 pts