Last weekend Datchet Water Sailing Club hosted the Dart 18 GP2 & Inland Nationals in what was forecasted to be one of the hottest April weekends on record, I’m not sure it goes down in my record book as the hottest, but certainly as one of the shiftiest as far as the wind goes.
Datchet offers pretty good facilities for those wanting to camp/motorhome and nearby are a selection of reasonably priced hotels.
Saturday morning was light winds and sunshine perfect for setting up boats, for those that had forgotten or needed to replace parts, Brian Phipps from Winsport who supports several events throughout the year was on site with his mobile workshop. It was also good to see that Brian had delivered two pre-ordered boats, one of them to Rod Winrow from Worthing who was competing in the event.
After a short briefing 20 Dart 18’s were ready to take to the water for a 1pm start, however, this was delayed a little by lack of wind. Once Barry Peters (RO) managed to set a course in very challenging conditions due to the massive wind shifts we all got off to a clean start. With very light winds and huge shifts, it was almost impossible to be in the right place at the right time, during the race I expect we all found ourselves becalmed more than once. The leading pack managed to get themselves around the course whilst the rest of us gained and lost multiple places within a leg. David Lloyd won race one followed by James Head and Mat Exon. While the Race Committee were waiting for the wind to settle on a direction, the sun had been replaced with rain, water spouts, temperature drop and freak gusts. Eventually the 2nd course was laid and much like the first race, the shifts were all over the place, during the second upwind leg we must have put in nearly 20 tacks with very little course change. Rod Winrow in his new boat took line honours with Simon Moruzzi in another new boat in second place and Mat Exon (yet to buy a new boat) in third place. Race three never happened due to the conditions.
In the evening Barry had suggested two local pubs for eating with the intentions of all ending up in the same one later, as I was being a responsible father and returned to the hotel at a sensible time, I can’t give you any of the social gossip from later on.
Sunday was forecasted to be a sunny day with a building breeze which was pretty accurate, but not without shifts. Due to the wind building and the first 2 races being only 2 laps we managed 5 races in all. With such short races you had to get the perfect start and those that did went on to be top finishers. The following races were 3 laps with lots of holes in the wind, it never seemed possible to go the same way twice, most of us seemed to be trading places throughout most legs. Rod Winrow won the 3rd race, Mat Exon the 4th and taking the overall title David Lloyd won the 5th, 6th & 7th races.
Well done to David Lloyd and Hayley Smith who won the event on only 8 points out of 7 races, last year’s winners Mat and Jakob Exon in second place and Rod Winrow and Sarah Gee in third. Also, a big well done to the UKIDA handicap winners, 1st Paul Craft, 2nd Matt Kingsland and 3rd Joe and Harriet Franks.
Thanks to Barry for pretty much organising the event single handedly, although we wouldn’t expect anything less of Barry and to everyone else who helped and especially all the travellers who took part in a very successful championship.
The Dart 18 is a fabulous boat to sail or race at any level with friends or family, looking through the results the helm and crew combinations are parent and child, husband and wife, brothers and friends, all of these as competitive as each other. Many helms travel to events looking for crew so if you are interested in giving it a go look at the events calendar on www.dart18.com, follow our posts on UKIDA Facebook or contact a member of UKIDA. If you are new to sailing and would like to try a Dart with an experienced Dart sailor, contact your local club which can be found on the Dart18 website or go along to one of the Try A Dart events which again can be found on the Dart18 website.
Rear Commodore Dinghy