Noble Marine Winter Championship

3 back to back races.




Event Details


Saturday, February 24, 2018

Notice of Race


Event Categories

Super Series
Veterans GrandMaster and Septimus Series

Sailing Instructions


Venue Address

Pitsford Reservoir


Club Telephone

Club Website

Club Email

Noble Marine Winter Championship - Report

The Noble Marine Winter Championship 2018

Winter is coming.
The National Solo season opener at Northampton S.C. proved the place to be with an entry of 57 which represented the highest since 2010 and a figure which matched the combined total of 7 of the RS classes at their similar event.

It had been 11 years since we last visited Northampton and driving half way around the reservoir trying to find the entrance had reacquainted myself and my chauffeur with it’s generous proportions…. we also now know where the fishing lodge is.
Walking around the dinghy park before racing and it was clear that the builders had been busy, latest hull number being 5788, proudly owned by Rob Cook. With quite a few boats on order there is a sweepstake on who will get Solo 5800, my bitcoin would be on Scotsman Kev Gibb who was already sporting 58 on his sail (with special dispensation, granted by the NSCA president). Gold and silver shimmered against a sky that could have been painted by a Man City fan, though talk on shore was of the rugby. With visitors from Ireland and Scotland, racing promised to be equally competitive, fortunately our NSCA on-water judge Steve Watson would ensure the scrums would be fair and the only biting would be from the Easterly wind which was spread across the course like butter on a crumpet.

Among the familiar faces were some new ones and some that I had raced against in the eighties and nineties, I suddenly felt rather old. Andy Davis would not be racing as he has still to complete the fit out of his 2018 model while Steve Ede had broken down on route… lets hope Ferrari fair better this season. Charlie Cumbley would be the favourite having won this event 5 times and was looking to complete a Harry Kane style hat-trick with victory. Olly Wells had delved deep into his pockets to pay his NSCA subscription just so he could do this event at his home water and he was accompanied by 7 other Northampton members, good show.

PRO Neil Barford, assisted by Paul Busby and Richard Goodenough who himself was National Inland Champion in 1985 set a triangle, sausage, triangle course in the building Easterly and as the seconds counted down, pulses started racing. Steve, the on-water judge manoeuvred our roto -moulded bright orange rib into position behind the fleet as they lined up, his eyes trained on rudder movement.

A reasonably square line ensured a clean start, the fleet keen to get on and off the water in record time and before appendages started falling off.
Ian Walters, a stranger to the Solo since the nineties but drawn back into the fold with the emergence of a talented brat pack at Grafham Water and the mind boggling big fleet circuit that is the North Sails Super Series was quick off the line at the pin in his Winder/North and soon established a powerful position at the front from Laurence Creaser Winder 1/North, Vince Horey Winder 1a/P+B, and Chris Brown Winder/North and they rounded mark 1 in close synchronisation. Charlie Cumbley rounded fifth from Ewan Birkin Walls with the 51 other competitors already working on a plan B to get back into the race. The first reach provided a nice angle for surfing and the judge’s presence kept mainsheet pumps to the compulsory one pump per wave. Olly Wells Winder/North, had rounded 11th but touching the mark and the subsequent turn had him questioning his eagerness to cough up £25 and the entry fee.
The second reach was far broader but with gusts screaming down the course, dynamic steering would reap benefits and sinking deep at mark 3 proved tricky.
Walters and Creaser continued to battle upwind, going right would hook you into a nice lift but left would bring more pressure. Creaser crossed just behind our jury rib, voicing his frustration at the wake we were creating while close to shore the local surfers bobbed up and down like sea lions awaiting another one of our prefect breakers to arrive. Well, thirty stone in a Jaffa is probably on the threshold of rule of the Maritime and Coastguard Agencies rescue boat code. After several changes in the lead it was Walters who sneaked into the top mark on port from Creaser, ominously though the big gain was by Cumbley Winder Mk 2/North, who was up to third and moved through into the lead by the bottom of the sausage. Horey, Brown and Walls continued to battle with Ian Maclean and Steve Denison making inroads as the race went into the 3rd quarter.
Cumbley extended with his North Sails teammate Creaser and Walters completing the top three.

With the fleet electing for three back to back races, the PRO quickly re-booted the start sequence and we were into race 2.

The wind had tracked slightly left as it increased to the top end of force 4, the crests of the waves covering the course like a flock of half submerged sheep. Walters nailed the pin again, this time with his Grafham wing man Walls watching his six. The fleet worked it’s way through the wool lined chop, Creaser had bailed out early and was seen ducking transoms while the majority hit the left corner. At the top mark it was Walters who squeaked around first from Dave Lucas, another of the Grafham posse and Cumbley. Littleton sailor Simon Derham was next with Wells, Martin Honnor, Brown and the transom eating Creaser in a creditable eighth. The reaches, judging from the emotions in the sailors eyes were at times euphoric, though the spray would soon wipe away the smiles from behind those balaclavas. Special mention to Grayson Eacecott racing Solo 4491 who rounded the top mark in 11th. 4491 is 15 years old, wooden and Grayson was still suffering from a lash-up in Newcastle the previous night, that’s dedication.
Cumbley moved through to take charge, the National Champion clearly sending a message to anyone with designs on his crown. With the Magic Marine UK Championship scheduled for July at HISC where he won the title in 2013, he must be feeling confident.
Wells, keen to make amends for R1 and get some value for his money went hard right, the diminutive sailor working his walnuts off and sniffing a win. He rounded second, behind Cumbley with Derham and Walters splitting gybes down the run. The breeze was building and Cumbley, clearly preferring the cooler northern hemisphere climate to the temperatures he had endured contesting the Etchell Australian Championship the previous week took the win to seal the regatta. Walters ground down Wells up the last beat to claim 2nd and consolidate his position overall while Derham finished a creditable 4th ahead of Lucas. Grafham will be hard to beat in a team event!

Pin end favoured and Lucas nailed the pin with Kev Gibb, Cumbley and Horey all driving hard left. Wells, with fire in his belly and his face glowing like a little garden gnome, rounded first, clearly enjoying his new found freedom from the shackles of professional dinghy sailing. His resolve in this race had also been strengthened by a pre race swim and a right hand corner first beat which paid big style. Walters was next round, impressive as he had been first to the mark in the previous two races and has lost none of his talent for making a Solo go quick. Ian Maclean was next with Hill Head sailor Nigel Thomas, Chris Mayhew and Cumbley completing a top six. Fatigue and extreme cold was taking it’s toll although through the camera lens things looked quite cozy as the bright Winter sun lit up blue skin and chattering teeth. Wells apparently capsized which was frustrating for both of us as it would prove expensive for his overall result and I would have loved to have captured the moment to improve my video hits. Walters led at the top of lap two with Cumbley and Maclean on his tail, Mayhew, Brown working hard to make the frame and Wells down in 11th but keen to make amends. The run to the bottom mark relied on keeping your head out of the boat as gusts ran down the course. Going high seemed advantageous but the kicker was a tricky final approach into the sole leeward mark.
Cumbley stretched out to an uncontested lead and completed a race day full of bullets, a hat-trick on the bounce of Winter Championship wins and six in all. Maclean’s 2nd gave him third overall ahead of the consistent Walters who would be second overall. Chris Mayhew in 4921, a beautiful Poulson wooden example finished 4th and proves that, in the right hands and on the right day, these Solos still perform. Chris Brown in fifth and fifth overall once again showed he has some form and will look to add to his collection of trophies in 2018, Garda and Hayling Island top of his hit list. I hope Olly Wells, who finished fourth overall will rue the capsize that cost him some bragging rights, at least he won the Wally of the Day with his two capsizes and sported the gold jacket and cap at the prize giving.

A big thank you to Phil Kilburn who supplied some nice prizes, courtesy of Noble Marine who provide some great insurance cover for the class. Commiserations to Richard Bundock and Grayson Eacecott who would have won Noble Marine kitbags had they stayed for the prize giving! These were gratefully re-gifted to Chris Mayhew and Ian Walters.
Thanks to Northampton who provided both great on water management and off water catering and to Neil Pitcher who has re-ignited the Solo fleet there.

Congratulations to all the competitors, 57 entries despite a forecast of 0 degrees. We resume the North Sails Super Series at Draycote Water on April 7 so come and join the party.

Will Loy
President NSCA


Noble Marine Winter Championship - Results