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By Rooster Sailing
I decided fairly late on that I would go the Nationals at Weymouth, even if it did mean sleeping in the back of the van for the week! I'd been busy instructing all through the Summer holidays and hadn't had much chance to train with anyone since the Worlds, so at least it was an opportunity to get some good racing in, especially with all the overseas entries.
The first day was pretty windy from the West and we were sent far out into the Bay for 2 scheduled races. At this stage, Radials, Standards and 4.7s were all sailing on the same course. After a number of complaints, this was fixed for the rest of the week with the 4.7s getting their own course and race officer. I don't understand why this wasn't planned from the start or why the Radials don't get their own course either - the numbers certainly justify it. As Dad had won the first race at the Comet Nationals the day before, I thought I'd better do the same and followed this with a 6th in the second race with all overseas sailors ahead of me. In fact at the end of the first day the top 4 overall were all foreign visitors with Andrea Brewster and me top Brits.
The next day the wind had gone round to the North-West and was up and down and shifty. I had a great day, scoring 2-1 to top the leaderboard and retain the day trophy from last year that I'd just had engraved.
Tuesday dawned with no wind and none forecast. Ken abandoned early (right decision this time) and we had a day off. That didn't seem to do me any good and it all went wrong for me the next day. There was a moderate Easterly wind but with all of Weymouth Bay to choose from we got sent to the far side under the lee of Osmington Cliffs - something to do with the Committee Boat's owner wanting to be on one of the Olympic courses!!! I started badly, made too many mistakes, had 3 poor races and dropped down the overall.
After that, we split into Gold and Silver fleets for the last 2 days. About a third of the Gold fleet were overseas sailors. The wind had veered to the South-East and we sailed a bit further out in the bay which was better. It was also a bit stronger with big waves or at least for the first race - which reminds me, why doesn't racing at UKLA events ever start at the scheduled time! I was unfortunate to drop from 3rd to 6th in the first race but it was still an improvement on yesterday. I still wasn't starting well and got a 20th (discard) and 12th in the other 2 races. I didn't lose any ground on my British rivals (apart from Hannah Snellgrove who had just had 2 great days after a poor start to the regatta) but didn't make any significant gains either. We were into the last day with just one race scheduled and the National Championships still wide open. I still had a chance of winning if I had a good one and the others slipped up. The forecast light South-Westerly arrived after a couple of hours postponement and a course was set in Portland Harbour - I don't know why we can't sail there more often. I had a good start, spotted that the wind was going right as the sea breeze (and the mist) came in and was near the front all race, ending up 2nd sandwiched between the 2 Belgians who finished 1st and 3rd overall. Most of my rivals finished further down - but not Jon who was just a few places back and beat me to the National Title. We were 4th and 7th overall. Congratulations to him - he didn't win any races but he only had one bad one and was nearly always near the front. So 3rd last year, 2nd this year, maybe I'll do it next year.
Having all the good overseas visitors made for some great racing but I can't say I wasn't jealous of their coaching support etc. Prize-giving could have been much better organised too, with more acknowledgement of who had come where in the National Championships - the girls got little recognition for their performances and neither did Jack for winning the Standard Nationals. maybe the first youth to do this.