The Royal Yorkshire Yacht Club, Bridlington, hosted the 2008 Lark Class National Championship over the last week of July. The class was pleased to announce support from Noble Marine Insurers, Tack Tick, Allen Brothers, Speed Sails and Pinnell & Bax Sails for the event.
Glorious sunshine and a stunning sandy beach greeted almost 100 competitors when they arrived. Saturday was used by most for some final practice and preparations. Race Officer Arkie Wainwright made the most of the fabulous conditions to give the fleet some gate start practice before holding a practice race in light winds. Stuart & Julie Allen were delighted to take their first championship race win.
The fleet set sail on Sunday in beautiful sunny conditions and a 10-knot breeze. Jeremy Stephens & Ellie Bremer pulled off a port-end flier and led to the finish. Defending Champions Steve Cumley & Eluned Jones had a close tussle with Alan Krailing & Ed McArdle to finish second and third respectively. Further back Silver Fleeters, Dan Watson & Harri Condie, had a great day to finish 10th. With a sea fog rolling in race two was postponed.
On Monday the Championship Village awoke to another warm morning. After a short postponement for the mist to clear racing took place in a steady F2. Stephens & Bremer unfortunately beat the start gun for Race 3 scoring an OCS. Christopher Fish & Beth Condie played the left against the majority view and despite catching a lobster pot for a few seconds just rounded in first. Matthew White & Harriet Steer and Emma Harris & Becky Priest gained steadily on Fish & Condie all the way. White & Steer took advantage of some confusion in the finishing procedure to take the win. Fish & Condie were later awarded joint first place in the protest room.
Watson & Condie continued their fine form with a 10th in Race 3. As pathfinders for Race 4 they took full advantage to lead for the first lap of the race before a group of boats stole past on the next beat. The race was eventually taken by Harris & Priest with Chris Whitehouse & Jane Alexander in second and Cumley & Jones in third. Watson & Condie continued their Silver Fleet dominance with another 10th place. In the Bronze Fleet Jamie Mayhew & Tom Power had an 18 point advantage over Rob & Ruth Marlow.
Who said it rains continuously in Yorkshire? Tuesday brought even more sun! Race 5 was sailed in a F3-4 with good surfing waves. Fish & Condie took a convincing win from Stephens & Bremer and Stephen & Chris Videlo after going hard right inshore on the first beat.
The rescheduled race 2 was sailed in the same conditions. Simon Cox & Joe Hunt were first out of the gate and were never headed and scored a convincing first championship win. The “P&B Boys” Steve Hall & Simon Haighton along with Harry Pynn & Dave Chisholm chased, pulling away from the pack and finishing in that order.
In the Silver and Bronze fleets the action was getting even hotter. Watson & Condie still led the Silver Fleet but they lost ground to a number of boats that preferred the breezier conditions. The Bronze fleet lead changed hands with Tim Vick & James Morley taking the lead with Spanni Archer & Hannah Mayhew in second as both teams beat numerous Gold fleeters in the breezier conditions.
The Crew's Race took place in the best conditions of the day. Jane Alexander & Chris Whitehouse took home the much coveted trophy from Moth Builder, Dave Chisholm & Harry Pynn and Chris & Stephen Videlo in third.
Wednesday’s racing was simply awesome with a steady F4 in both races and some high profile spills. Hall & Haighton won Race 6 with Krailing & McArdle just behind. Race 7 was much the same with Krailing & McArdle leading to the windward mark with Hall & Haighton just behind. Cox & Hunt followed in third and were pressing hard but capsized on the run. Fish & Condie came through to take third and were demonstrating a consistency that they had not had in previous campaigns.
Race 8 was sailed on Thursday in a F2. Seven boats headed for an early shower after the PRO went straight for the black flag. Fish & Condie and Cumley & Jones took full advantage of a heavily port-biased line and duelled at the front until surprisingly splitting tacks on the last beat. Fish & Condie won ensuring a different champion for 2008. Smashie Bennett & Nicola Booth kept their cool to take third.
Championship leaders, Krailing & McArdle scored a 9th to lose the overall lead to Fish & Condie. Cumley & Jones were safe in third but could still take second. Krailing & McArdle needed a top 2 result with Fish & Condie 8th or worse to regain their 2006 title. In the Silver Fleet, Watson & Condie led by 3 points from a consistent Nigel Scott & Rachel Rhodes. In the Bronze fleet Vick & Morley had a 4-point advantage over the all-girl team of Archer & Mayhew.
Race 9 took place in the windiest conditions of the week, a solid F5. Richard Adams & Paul Noble were early leaders after starting early and going hard left but they lost first as the first reach proved too tight for a kite. Hall & Haighton are the team to beat in a breeze and took their second bullet by some distance. Meanwhile, the top three overall kept slugging away. Fish & Condie were pinned out left on the first beat and couldn’t close on Krailing & McArdle who went right in a bid for victory. Cumley & Jones dipped it in early in the race but determinedly set about recovering. Krailing & McArdle calmly pursued the placing they needed and gained second place on the penultimate beat from Adams and Noble. But with so many points needed between them they could do little but watch as Fish & Condie crossed the line in 3rd to take the 2008 Lark National Championship title.
The Tack Tick Silver Fleet title was eventually won by Scott & Rhodes from a devastated Watson & Condie by a single point missing out on the new compass. The Allen Brothers Bronze fleet leaders, Vick & Morley, scored their second best result (21st) to beat Archer & Mayhew by one place overall.
The socials during the week were up to there legendary best with many a story to be told. The highlight of the week was the “Circus” themed fancy dress party a huge night with everyone dancing ‘till late. The Duckham’s was at its usual best with winners including event organizer, Steve Chatten for finally getting his fractured leg plastered two weeks (and a lot of hobbling) after doing the damage, local support boat crew, Freddie who thought he was wearing a wet suit but wasn’t and James Ward for a list of under achievements to long to mention!
Whoever said it was cold and wet in Yorkshire was wrong. With the best weather and the warmest greeting we have ever had at a Lark Nationals this year could possibly rate as the best ever. The class has proved that there are excellent venues outside of the South-West and North Wales. In fact we can’t wait to return north again!
The Lark Class would like to thank Royal Yorkshire YC for their hospitality and making the event possible and to our event sponsors - Noble Marine Insurance, Tack Tick, Allen Brothers, Speed Sails and Pinnell & Bax.
1st 2494 Christopher Fish & Beth Condie, Waldringfield SC 18.25pts
2nd 2464 Alan Krailing & Edd McArdle, Waldringfield SC 22.75pts
3rd 2496 Steve Cumley & Eluned Jones, Barnt Green SC 28pts
4th 2502 Steve Hall & Simon Haighton, Northampton SC 31.5pts
5th 2491 Stephen Videlo & Chris Videlo, Waldringfield SC 35pts
6th 2471 Matthew White & Harriet Steer, Waldringfield SC 39.75pts
7th 2452 Harry Pynn & David Chisholm, Waldringfield SC 43pts
8th 2311 Emma Harris & Becky Priest, Waldringfield SC 44.75pts
9th 2487 Richard “Smashie” Bennett & Nicola Booth, Staunton Harold 45pts
10th 2411 Chris Whitehouse & Jane Alexander, Ranelagh SC 54pts
1st Silver Fleet – 2472 Nigel Scott & Rachel Rhodes, RYA
1st Bronze Fleet – 2370 Tim Vick & James Morley, Ulley SC
1st Classic Lark – 1911 Andrew & Lyndsey Scullion, Royal Yorkshire YC
Full results available here.