What a weekend! The wind gods disregarded all available forecasts, which with days to go were predicting a millpond for all three days of the Impala nationals, to deliver Caribbean sailing conditions in Weymouth Bay.
This was the Impala class’s 35th Anniversary championships, and boats travelled from the Solent, Brixham, Saltash, Poole, Chichester and as far as Mersea Island on the East Coast and Flushing in the west to take part.
Race officer Derek Abbott and his team delivered some outstanding racing in tricky conditions. Friday hosted two races. The first, sailed in 8-10 knots gave an indication of how close the racing would be, as boats throughout the fleet changed positions multiple times before the finish. Darren Stansbury and Iain Gray on Maverick won the first race, with Olly Love and Sam Flint on Two Frank in second. The second race was in around 10-12 knots and was won by Matt and Michelle Dodd on Fearnought, with the Meakins’ and Cudmores on Polly 2nd. Ashore, the fleet decamped to Weymouth beach for a swim to cool down before the now infamous pontoon rum party, this year sponsored by Doyle Sails.
The close battle at the top of the fleet would continue throughout the weekend, with Maverick and Fearnought always within one point of each other. Saturday dawned with a millpond and blistering heat, and many competitors wondered if racing would happen at all. But the race team were confident, and, true to their predictions, the wind filled in right on cue at 1230. Three races were sailed in 10-16 knots. Matt and Michelle Dodd’s Fearnought won the first race, with arch-rivals Maverick edging the next two races to again leave them 1 point ahead of Fearnought that evening. Polly scored two thirds and a fourth, pursued hard by Poole Impalas Happy and Firebird.
GAP Communications sponsored the 35th Anniversary Dinner at the Weymouth Pavillion on Saturday evening, where on-the-water rivalries were transferred to the land in an ultra-competitive games night.
Sunday, despite a forecast for more wind, in fact saw lighter airs, leading many of the fleet who had added rig tension that morning scrambling to slacken the shrouds off before the start in 8 knots of breeze. A shifty and patchy breeze meant that huge gains and losses were there for the taking on both runs and beats.
Fearnought won the first race, which put them on equal points with Maverick, taking the battle for 1st place down to the last race. It wasn’t until the final beat of the final race of the championships that Maverick secured the title by a point, covering Fearnought all the way to the finish. Polly scored 3rd in the first race and an 8th in the second, which was enough to secure her 3rd place, while Barney Smith’s Imptish gained 4 places with a good performance on Sunday, edging ahead of Happy on countback.
With birthday cake ashore at the Royal Dorset YC, the prizegiving was a generous affair, thanks to support from Doyle Sails, Spinlock, Lewmar, One Sails, North Sails and Nix Digital.
1st went to Maverick, with Fearnought 2nd and Polly 3rd. Best improver went to Peter Norman’s Firebird, who finished 11th last year and 6th this time around.
Furthest travelled went to Julian Lord’s Scallywag, while Stuart Higgins received a ‘Longest-serving owner’ award, having owned Flushing-based Atalanta since 1990. Pip and Pete Rouse on Voodoo received the ‘family boat’ award in their first nationals, having bought the boat only weeks ago.
Thanks go to all competitors in this competitive yet ultra-friendly class, and to the organisers who made the event so successful. We’ll see you next year!
|1||6||Maverick||D Stansbury and Iain Gray||Saltash Sailing Club||1||-4||-2||1||1||2||1|
|2||7||Fearnought||Matt & Michelle Dodd||Brixham||-5||1||1||-2||2||1||2|
|3||15||Polly||Meakins and Cudmore||Hamble River SC||-6||2||3||3||4||3||-8|
|4||24||Imptish||Barney Smith/Graham Tullett||Hamble River SC||3||3||-10||-8||8||7||3|
|5||24||Happy||john mc quillan||Poole Yacht Club||(13/DSQ)||6||5||5||3||-10||5|
|6||25||Firebird||Peter Norman||Parkstone Yacht Club||-9||-8||8||4||5||4||4|
|7||27||Scallywag||Julian Lord||West Mersea YC||-8||-7||4||6||6||5||6|
|8||34||Two Frank||Olly Love & Sam Flint||Hamble River Sailing Club||2||-9||6||9||-10||8||9|
|9||34||Trudi||Philip McDanell||Itchenor SC||-10||5||-9||7||9||6||7|
|10||37||Magic||Olly Bewes & George Beevor||Royal Southern YC||4||-11||7||10||7||9||-11|
|12||58||Voodoo||Pete & Pip Rouse||WSC||11||-12||11||-12||12||12||12|