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Rooster 8.1 Nationals at London Corinthians

20th and 21st November 2010

Picture Gallery

A chilly East-North-East wind, near enough a spring tide, not really enough puff, what better day than to host the first national championships on the tidal Thames since ... well, probably since sailing clubs started proliferating on puny little gravel pits.

Our nationals were for the Rooster 8.1 class; a new class developed by Steve Cockerill, boss of Rooster Sailing, who decided that a mere 7.1 m2 standard rig didn't offer enough power for the Laser (an idea that many a sailor would surely question) so developed an 8.1-m2 sail that, with a simple extension, could be used on the boat with all its standard rigging. How fitting, then, that this new class should hold one of its early nationals on the Thames, a stretch of water that in years gone by hosted huge fleets of International 14s and Fireflies as those classes developed.

We have our own Val Nedyalkov to thank for this exciting new event in our growing dinghy activities. He persuaded Steve a) that actually you don't need to be at Stokes Bay or Weir Wood reservoir to enjoy exciting racing, and b) that a Laser with a bit of oomph added would be ideal for the river. And so it proved.

It was a risky venture persuading 8.1 sailors to come to central London to compete, and some it has to be said, were suspicious. Five competitors indeed signed up and in the preceding week decided it wasn't for them, but for the nine Corinthians and ten visitors from afar afield as the Isle of Wight who turned up it was a sometimes frustrating, always absorbing contest. Our race officer Alan Beaney, assisted by Johnny Lyell on the first day and Peter Hallett on the second, managed to run eight races in total with two discards, and if there's anything that we Corinthians can take from it, it is that we might have home advantage, but a top quality sailor - and Steve is current World Masters Laser Radial champion - will get the measure of the conditions in no time and despite being in a totally new environment dominate the racing.

Day one saw a very light East-North-Easterly wind, so Alan took us down river and took the controversial but sensible decision to start the fleet downwind from close by Hammersmith Bridge. With spring tides and such light wind, an upwind start would mean whoever got to the bank first with clear air ahead of them would win.

There was an inevitable rafting up around the leeward mark for all three races, but Andy Le Grice, Steve Cockerill, Gary Bullock, Trevor Scovell and Val seemed to manage to find clear air and were emerging as the sailors it would be hard to beat. At the end of the first day's racing, they were up there at the top of the leader board.

Day two gave us slightly more wind, this time from the North-North-East, so Alan sent the fleet up-river, and this time there was enough puff to beat the tide and return to a more conventional upwind start. Alan wasn't going to let us have it all our own way, though, and sailors had to come away from the bank and go through the start-finish line for each lap.

Again hard-fought battles were won and lost, but again it was Steve and Andy who showed their superiority, and after three races on Saturday, and five on Sunday, finished first and second respectively. Gary Bullock was third and best Corinthian was Val in fourth place. In fifth was Nigel Edwards, who had arrived in style, sailing his boat upriver from his home club, Ranelagh.

For the rest of us, we all saw the competitive bar raised, with Phil Robin the second-best Corinthian in 10th, Clive Kitson in 11th and Simon Hills in 12th. Just behind him was ex LCSC class Captain Jonathan Smith, back in home territory. No Corinthians, though, had sailed the Rooster 8.1 before, but from the author's point of view (behind!) the impression was the leaders were sharper in all departments.

Thanks must go to Val for getting the wheels in motion, but also the dinghy sailing committee, particularly Beverley Beech and Angela Boyhan, and all the volunteers for making this such a successful event. The shore team did a superb job of getting boats on and off the pontoon, the catering from Wendy was superb, Neal Kelshaw set up a smart online booking form, Francesca Fearon managed to rustle up free beer from Fullers. There is no doubt that this sailing club can host great racing with great hospitality. Steve has mentioned in his blog that there might be a return next year. Watch this space.

Here are the links to the reports in Yachts and Yachting for day 1 and day 2, along with Steve's blog with some tremendous webcam footage from the front of his and Andy le Grice's boats, showing just what it's like to sail at London Corinthian Sailing Club.

More pictures can be found at Martin Dixon's web albums for Saturday and Sunday.

Overall Results

Position Helm and Crew
1st Steve Cockerill
2nd Andy Le Grice
3rd Gary Bullock
4th Val Nedyalkov
5th Nigel Edwards
6th Neil Peters
7th Simon Barrington
8th Trevor Scovell
9th Sarah Cockerill
10th Phil Robin
11th Clive Kitson
12th Simon Hills
13th Jonathan Smith
14th Chris Fyans
15th Andre Gareh
16th Robin Johnson
17th John Cronk
18th Andy Oliver
19th Kevin Seebaluck

by Simon Hills

Photos by Martin Dixon

Copyright © London Corinthian Sailing Club, 2010