Wilsonian SC sailors call themselves "Willies". Rachel writes about what they got up to at the 2021 Nationals

8 Sep 2021 - by Rachel Sheridan

Willies on tour….

Dear Reader, just to warn you of any disappointment from the misleading title as this is not some sordid Stag/Hen night story but merely a happy recount of the 2000 Class Association National Championships held in Royal Torbay Yacht Club from 8th to 13th August 2021. There were 4 boats entered from Wilsonian SC, otherwise known as the Willies. We had our ‘support team’ with us including Rachelle who was recovering from shoulder surgery the day before (how’s that for dedication) and Geoff, our personal club bosun, who Zoe would be grateful for later in the week when she had some spinnaker problems and crew shortage, we also had our ‘nationals newbie’ Isabelle who was crewing for me who is originally from France, although she’s been in the UK for 20+ years . After 220 mile drive taking about 8 hours most of which was spent on A303 Stonehenge – they’re just some stones, they’ve been there ages, they’ll still be there when we go past later!! Following the brilliant welcome instructions from the 2000 Class Association and fabulous welcome from the team at RTYC, boats unloaded and masts erected, then new measurement checks completed and most kit passing – don’t ask about sail numbers! The Commodore’s Welcome meal at the club on Saturday night was a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new ones. After enjoying the delicious chicken dinner a story was recounted of school basic French lessons and a holiday to France which led to an incident in a bouchere involving a beautiful French shop assistant and a nervous teenage boy who instead of asking for chicken breasts, commented on her voluptuous figure!

The 2000 National’s format is 10 races, scheduled at 2 per day, over 5 days. The great news about nationals is that the fleets are split into different groups to encourage sailing, everyone is in the main overall classification then it’s broken into Family fleet, Youth helm fleet, New comer fleet for first timers and Silver fleet for previous nationals entries, which included all the 4 Willies boats. Day 1, Sunday 9th August 2021, wow what a start to the week! The gusts were recorded up to 30 knots. Race briefing at 11.30am on the quay side, 2 races planned with 13.30 start time. Launching was the first challenge and Zoe & Peter (2523) should have been nominated for a Chairman’s champagne moment after capsizing within the harbour walls. Day 2, Monday, still very breezy with gusts slightly lower at 27 knots and the race start time now at 11.30am for the first of 2 daily races. I can’t remember how many times Andy & Felix (21914) and Nina & Chris (21405) capsized those first 2 days but certainly they were in double figures, whilst Isabelle & I (22321) and Zoe & Peter (2523) launched and sailed to the race area but decided the conditions were too much for us. Day 3, much better conditions. Fortunately during the week the winds calmed down, in fact Race 5 on Tuesday got off the a great start with a couple of amazing spinnaker runs, then, much to everyone’s disappointment on the final lap, the wind completely dropped and the race officer hoisted the postponement flag. This meant that we would be a race behind schedule, so Thursday would have 3 races planned. After 3 days of racing, Wednesday is the traditional lay day, which meant a trip to Dartmouth on the ferry. Feeling rested, we were back on the water for Day 4 Thursday. The breeze was good and there were some amazing spinnaker runs. Peter was feeling unwell, so Geoff stepped in for Zoe as crew. In Race 6, Isabelle (my crew) had mastered the spinnaker and we were screaming downwind then decided to gybe - big mistake – we went over with a classic capsize and she was swearing in both French and English, much to the amusement of the safety boat who were within earshot on standby. A very exhausted fleet returned to the harbour and I’ve never been so glad to see a man in uniform to help pull the boat up the slipway – we are very fortunate to have the Services sailing as part of our 2000 fleet. To round off the day, even better, was a tasty curry waiting for us back at our accommodation, thanks to Rachelle. Day 5, final races, there was great with excitement at the top of the fleet.

It soon became clear who the top sailors would be this year and it was a tightly fought battle, with each race finishing with a potential different National Champion. In fact it was so thrilling the top sailors had discards for 4th place, something I can only every dream of, absolutely down to the wire excitement so much so that on the last windward mark rounding and last spinnaker hoist and run of the 2000 National Championship, determined who the final winner would be! Prize giving and championship dinner on Friday night confirmed the results, with congratulations to Rob Burridge & his daughter Sarah our 2000 Class Association National Champions 2021.

Our Willies boats did well, final overall results:

  • 36th place Andy & Felix (21914)
  • 37th place Nina & Chris (21405)
  • 42nd place Rachel & Isabelle (22321)
  • 46th place Zoe & Peter/Geoff (2523)

We were all placed in Silver Fleet as all Willies boats had already entered previous nationals, with results 11th place Andy & Felix (21914), 13th place Nina & Chris (21405), 15th place Rachel & Isabelle (22321) and 18th place Zoe & Peter/Geoff (2523).

Our best overall race results were 3 x 32nd place for Andy & Felix in Race 2, Race 4 and Race 8, 25th place for Nina & Chris in Race 9, 2 x 37th place for Rachel & Isabelle in Race 5 and Race 9, 39th place for Zoe & Peter/Geoff in Race 7. The results can be viewed online at results.rtyc.org

We’ve got an exciting season ahead for 2022, combined RS event for our 2000 Class Association to Carnac in North West France for from 2nd to 6Th June 2022. Looking forward to seeing everyone at next year 2000 National Championships at Castle Cove, near Weymouth, from 13th to 19th August 2022. Come along and join us.

Rachel Sheridan 22321 Lazy Grey

2000 Fleet Captain Wilsonian Sailing Club