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2017 National Championship at Stone SC

Unicorn National Championship 2017, Stone Sailing Club, July 31st to August 4th.

 

Day one of the 2017 National Championships.

The weather forecast was winds force 4-5 and so it proved. South Westerly in direction

and becoming more southerly in direction. The morning race was sailed on an ebbing tide

and the afternoon race on a flood tide. Gary Piper, William Dawson and Dan Jarman had

all bought and restored their old boats and were clearly going to set the pace whilst Steve

Pooley had brought along his latest acquisition, Unicorn 1100 the latest boat from the Gary

Piper stable but stripped of mast, boom and control lines and hence the Sunday had been

spent in rebuilding the rigging.

Rather surprisingly in the morning race, Julius Mach led at the first mark and also at marks

two and three where he rather lost his way not being able to spot mark 4 and eventually

being the sixth boat to round. Dawson and Piper then sailed away from the rest of the

fleet and after 3 laps Piper was first, Dawson second and Mach third benefiting from

Jarman having to retire after omitting a mark.

The second race saw Piper, Dawson and Pooley take an early lead but there was much

place changing on the run as a result of a vast amount of weed being swept up the river by

the incoming tide with boats swooping in varying directions as weed was cleared from

rudders. This race was only two laps fortunately for Jarman as sailing in the only boat with

pinned rudders as opposed to rudders held down by lines or other means meant he was

down to his last replacement pin as the pins sheared due to the accumulation of weed.

Piper was first, followed by Pooley and then Dawson.

Day two

The day started with lighter winds but this was just a teaser. There were indeed light

winds and plenty of windless patches as well but as the day progressed the winds grew

stronger with many shifts and gusts. The morning race was on an ebbing tide with the

second mark providing a test of skill. Piper made a clean approach and rounding and got

away from the rest of the fleet. Jarman and Mach arrived next and both failed to round

and had to put in several tacks before managing to round. Dawson thought he saw an

opportunity and came in fast to the mark and attempted to tack inside the pair and

discovered his error when the mark approached and hit him. Jarman subsequently

extended his lead over Mach. Dawson and Peter Toft got past Mach on the last lap when

Mach sailed into a hole and the pair picked up a gust and sailed a reach to the leeward

mark. Although Mach was able to pull a place back the race finished with Piper first,

Jarman second and Dawson third.

The afternoon race held in a newly flooding tide saw Jarman, Mach and Piper arrive at the

first mark in that order. Jarman and Piper tacked at the mark opting for a three tack beat

to the next mark but lessening the chances of interaction with weed whilst Mach stood on

for a one tack beat knowing he could clear his rudders and daggerboards quickly if

necessary. The one tack beat proved the better route and Mach subsequently led the rest

of the lap from Jarman and Piper. The wind had increased substantially for the second lap

and the heavy weather contingent of Jarman, Piper, Dawson and Pooley all swept past

Mach on the first leg. Pooley dropped a place on the run but then progressed from fifth to

second on the beat to the finish. First was Jarman, followed by Pooley and Dawson.


After racing there was a cream Prosecco – like a cream tea but with Prosecco rather than

tea – (included in the entry fee), a roast dinner (extra) and then the quiz night – first prize

£50 plus other prizes.

Day three

Races 5 and 6 were brought forward to Wednesday as the forecast for Thursday was

rather breezy. Even so the winds were still quite strong.

The morning race – Due to the strength of the wind a somewhat diminished fleet took to

the water with Boosey joining the four windy weather favourites. Jarman, by now in his

element blasted away from the start, with Piper and Dawson having a close battle. Having

led all the way round the course and with only a short leg to the finish, Jarman was

broadsided by a 35 knot gust which ended in a spectacular capsize. Piper and Dawson

were so intent on covering each other they failed to notice Pooley gaining ground and

allowed Pooley to pass to claim his first race win of the series.

In view of the high winds the afternoon race enticed Mach to try out a cut down sail he had

just had made. The sail worked miracles. As soon as it was up the wind died away and

the rain started. Jarman led away from the start line pursued by Piper, Dawson and

eventually Pooley. Dave Boosey and Mach had a tussle at the back of the fleet with

Boosey winning out. With very little drama the positions at the end were Jarman first

followed by Piper and then Pooley.

Some 220 people attended the barbecue in the evening which was followed by a barn

dance.

Thursday all racing was cancelled for the day. A catamaran was seen flying a hull but it

must be said that it had no sails up and was anchored. The bar was drunk dry while a rock

band played out the history of rock.

Day 4

Competitors were pleased to see the daily brewery lorry turn up as even the bottled beer

had mostly run out. Eleven empty kegs from the previous day were taken away.

The westerly breeze was still howling for Friday’s penultimate race with a steep Blackwater

chop caused by wind over tide. There was much place changing at the front end of the

fleet. Pooley took the lead, however confusion prevailed among the front runners, which

shall be blamed on poor visibility at the time, over the other Stone Week competitors’

shortened course flag. The shortened course flag was spotted but not the fact the the

Unicorn flag was not displayed whilst all the other class flags were. The leaders stopped

but Jarman carried on for the third lap to be the first and only finisher.

For the last race of the week sailed back to back in order to allow competitors to de-rig and

the race committee to calculate all the results, the tide was ebbing and the waves had

calmed down. Beating into the tide and a force 5, Jarman built up a comfortable lead and

went on to win. Gary Piper battled for second place against Pooley and Dawson who

finished in that order.


Piper won the championship with 9 points followed by Jarman with 11 points and Pooley

third with 15 points. Dawson, Mach, Boosey, Toft, John Moore and David Taylor filled the

minor places in that order. Over one hundred people sat down to a two course dinner to

watch the presentations with the hardy ones then going on to an end of week disco.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016 Nationals at Stone

Unicorn Nationals 2016

 

The 2016 Unicorn Nationals were held between the 1st and 5th August at Stone Sailing Club on the Blackwater.  The forecast was for initial light winds increasing through the week which with the strong tidal streams would lead to some very lumpy water.  Gary Piper had given up sailing Unicorns after last year but could not kick the habit and has bought back one of his former boats (1098).  Owen Cox had also given up sailing Unicorns but likewise has bought a former championship winning boat (1100) and Will Dawson after an absence of some 10 years had bought back his old boat (1091) which has been fully restored.  Last year’s champion Steve Pooley, local former champion Peter Toft and last year’s runner up Julius Mach made up the favourites from which the winner was likely to come.  A recent newcomer Dave Boosey had some different ideas and intended to break into the top six.

 

The morning race on Monday in was held in light conditions with wind against tide increasing the apparent wind. Mach was an early leader but dropped back to 6th on overstanding the first windward mark whilst Peter Toft using local knowledge took the lead at the mark.  There followed a short fetch to the second mark with no place changing and then a run to the next three marks during which Mach retook the lead.  Toft tried an alternative route to the fifth mark and lost out.  Mach was passed by Cox on the beat but Cox then steered towards the wrong windward mark allowing Mach to regain the lead again which he held until nearly reaching the leeward mark when he was passed by Toft who had again taken an alternative route but this time with considerable success.  Mach was then passed by Piper and Cox as he found weed and lost time clearing his rudders.  Toft held off the challenge from Piper up the beat to the finish.  Toft 1st, Piper 2nd, Cox 3rd.

 

For the afternoon race on Monday the tide had turned so the apparent wind was lighter.  From the start Cox took to the north shore followed by Brooks whilst Dawson made an excellent start along the south shore.  Cox and Dawson developed a considerable advantage over the rest of the fleet who were tacking up the south shore with Cox eventually gaining an advantage of some 300 yards.  Piper, Toft and Mach formed a chasing group with Mach breaking away from the other two and closing down Dawson.  On the second beat Cox again went for the north shore allowing Dawson and Mach to try short tacking up the southern shore in a successful effort to close him down.  Dawson rounded the windward mark first followed by Mach and Cox.  Mach closed up completely on Dawson on the final run and edged in front just as the shorten course was signalled and managed to hold the lead to the finish.  Mach 1st, Dawson 2nd, Cox 3rd.  At the other end of the fleet Boosey managed to get in front of Pooley and Arthur Brooks gained an advantage over David Taylor.  Overall scores at the end of day 1 were Mach 5pts, Toft, Piper and Cox 6pts, Dawson 7pts.

 

Tuesday’s wind started off light and westerly but increased throughout the day and eventually became south westerly.  The first of Tuesday’s races on a rising tide with wind against tide saw much place changing throughout the fleet.  A small mistake could see a boat slip from first to sixth and then climb up to the front before again slipping back.  Cox moved from 4th to 1st on the final run and held off Piper to win the race.  Cox 1st, Piper 2nd, Mach 3rd.

 

The afternoon race on Tuesday was on the same course as the morning race but the tide had reversed and the wind swung completely to south west meaning both the last and penultimate legs were biased beats.  This sorted out the boats that pointed high from lower pointing boats.  The first beat established the order for the rest of the race with the exception of Pooley who on the first beat of the second lap found the go button on his boat passing Mach and Toft and then going on to pass Cox at the end of the first beat of the third lap.  Brooks had an issue with his mainsheet, capsized and ultimately failed to finish.  Piper 1st, Pooley 2nd, Cox 3rd.  After four races there had now been four race winners meaning this was the most competitive Nationals for at least 10 years.  Overall scores at the end of day 2 were Piper 9pts, Cox 10pts, Mach 12pts.

 

Wednesday was a rest day.  A race round Radio Caroline and another round Osea Island were offered but declined by the Unicorns.  The force 5 against the tide with wind whistling in the rigging may have had something to do with the decisions.  At this point it is probably time to mention that the gold anti-vandal paint that Iain Rogers had unwittingly used to paint his spars and parts of his hull had been lacquered over and was safe to touch although it still came off when any PVC tape that had been in contact with it was removed.  It was said that traces of gold are still being found round the former Bradwell Power Station. 

 

Thursday came with winds no less than Wednesday and after an initial consideration of postponement until the tide had turned it was decided to proceed as scheduled.  Six boats prepared to go out but Rogers was still attempting to launch long after everyone else had finished.  Cox took an early lead with Piper close behind followed by Pooley.  Mach was fourth but retired to conserve energy and boat allowing Brooks to move up to fourth.  These positions remained unchanged to the end.  Cox 1st, Piper 2nd, Pooley 3rd.

 

Thursday’s second race was held in similar conditions to the first with the wind against tide kicking up a considerable chop.  Cox led from Piper with Mach, Brooks and Rogers contesting the next three places.  Mach slipped from third to fifth after a poor beat and slow run before recovering back to third on the final beat with Brooks only three seconds behind.  Cox 1st, Piper 2nd, Mach 3rd.  Overall scores at the end of the day were Cox 9pts, Piper 9pts, Mach 15pts.

 

Friday’s racing was held in lighter mainly force 3 winds.  In the first race Cox went into an early lead followed by Piper.  There was then a gap before Toft, Brooks, Mach and Rogers formed a chasing pack with Taylor and Boosey not far behind.  Mach got the better of the chasing pack but then at the end of lap 2 tried to sail both sides of mark A and got pinned there with no apparent way to escape its clutches.  Toft and everyone else took advantage as Mach had to be towed off the mark and the race officer could again see the finish line.  Cox 1st, Piper 2nd, Toft 3rd.  The win  gave Cox the championship.

 

The final race saw Piper lead from Cox at the first mark with Mach in pursuit.  Mach got ahead of Cox who then hit the third mark with his tiller in trying to close the gap.  This was only partial compensation for when Mach had done the same thing at the same mark on the first day and lost five places in taking a penalty.  Cox did not lose any places as the chasing pack were some way behind.  However it was enough to ensure he could not catch Mach.  Piper 1st, Mach 2nd, Cox 3rd.  Overall scores were Cox 10pts, Piper 10 pts, Mach 17pts.

 

Iain Rogers became the winner of the capsize trophy as launching for race 5 after everyone else had already finished he managed a double capsize and a soaking of his cigarettes before he had even tacked or gybed.  Arthur Brooks was the only other contender.  Mach got a parking ticket for his actions in race 7.  Pooley and Dawson were unable to compete in the final races due to boat and personal injuries and hence dropped down the overall placings.

 

Overall results:

1st 1100 Owen Cox, Bala SC, 10pts;  2nd 1098 Gary Piper, Stokes Bay SC, 10pts; 3rd 1095 Julius Mach, Netley SC, 17pts; 4th 1074 Peter Toft, Stone SC, 24pts; 5th 1084 Arthur Brooks, Stone SC, 34pts; 6th 1085 Steve Pooley, Queensmead SC, 35pts; 7th 1086 Dave Boosey, Stone SC, 44pts; 8th 1067 David Taylor, Stone SC, 45pts; 9th 1091 William Dawson, Lilliput SC, 51 pts; 10th 1092 Iain Rogers, Weston SC. 53pts.

 

 

Report by Julius Mach; Photos by Tanya Piper.

2014 National Championships Results

2015 Unicorn Nationals - Stone S C

Unicorn Nationals 2015

The 2015 Unicorn Nationals were held between the 3rd and 7th August at Stone Sailing Club on the Blackwater. The forecast was for lots of wind in the early part of the week with stronger gusts, which with the strong tidal streams would to lead to some very lumpy water. The later part of the week was forecast to have reducing wind strengths. Scott Greengrass had just finished building a new boat and had brought it to the nationals although there were still some minor fitting adjustments to be made. Gary Piper, last year's champion, had sold his championship winning boat but was able to borrow it to sail this year. Julius Mach had just put together a pair of Dotan rudders and was going to be using them for the first time, perhaps not wanting to have damaged them before the Nationals. Such is the care and preparation that is taken before participation in the nationals. Steve Pooley had sorted out his boat which was so innovative last year and was clearly going to be a more serious contender to take away Gary Piper's crown.

The morning race on Monday in was held in marginal conditions with strong gusts causing many of the other boats taking part in Stone week to capsize and in the case of one Squib sink. Four Unicorns signed on to venture out onto a triangle and sausage course. Steve Pooley launched but Mach could not get his Unicorn to reliably stay on the trolley after hoisting the sail just before a gust arrived and promptly lowered the sail. Bob Dorks had made a sensible decision not to sail and instead helped by holding Peter Toft's boat down while he raised his sail after the gust had passed over prior to also launching. Gary Piper then launched but was late to the start line. Pooley led from Toft from the start to the finish despite losing out a little on the first downwind leg. Piper was the first to retire as he was carrying a back injury and in addition did not want to risk damaging a borrowed boat. Toft on passing the clubhouse after the triangle also retired leaving Pooley to sail the sausage leg to the finish.

Read more: 2015 Unicorn Nationals - Stone S C

2014 Unicorn Nationals - Stone Report

This is the Unicorn fleet on the beach at Stone SC ready to compete in the 2014 National Championships. The 8 boats represent 45% of the currently registered association members, a great effort, especially those that travelled some distance to attend. The racing and results are detailed in a separate report. The weather was fine warm and sunny for most of the week which pleased the campers and families. The social side of the week from live bands,games, quizzes, BBQ and prize giving dinner was enjoyed by all and  gave plenty of time to catchup with the latest news and meet old and new friends. Gary Piper must be congratulated on winning the championship for the 14th time but this year there were 4 different winners of the individual races making the competition closer. There were 5 wooden and three foam sandwich boats, 3 boats used the new GP sail and the remainder a Caws, all on Needlespa masts. This clearly demonstrates that the GP sail is a good replacement for the now unavailable Caws. The competitiveness of the foam sandwich hulls after 25 years is good news and the very smart overhaul by Steve Pooley of 1085 gave some interesting thoughts on future development of the glass Unicorn. Thanks to all the competitors for a great week and we hope to see more  attendees next year. 

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