Lark Masters Runner and Riders

Nigel Hufton - 13th October 2009

At the time of writing, the entry list already looks as if it has been populated with Lark 'Gods' galore and even an Olympian. Picking the winner is difficult, given the varying states of age, fitness, practice, local knowledge and sobriety. However, here are some contenders for the Top 10, from those who have already entered.

Also, look out for those listed at the end under 'Possible Late Entries': they could seriously shake up the form-book, if they can make the starting line.

John Brickwood (2519) - Masters winner in 2003 and 2005. A Lark 'God', having won the Nationals three times: the first time as a student (1986), in probably the most bendy boat ever to win. Now more likely to be seen in a Mirror, but don't be fooled by that, especially as he will have champion crew (and wife) Vicky as crew and a new boat.

Tim Fells (2331) - Another Lark God, having won the Nationals three times in '88, '93 and '97, with Jerry Eplett. Tim has since won the B14 Worlds four times and the Nationals 3 times. Jerry is again crewing, in his now-restored champion boat, Fancy Liquor. Highly focused.

Ian Walker (2347) - Double Olympic silver medalist and no stranger to Larking either, having come second in the 1994 Nationals. Now more often seen racing around the world, but has the twice Nationals winning crew Ruth Johnson crewing and is ultra-competitive.

Chris Allen (2492) - Still the only person to have won the Lark Nationals as a helm (1994) and a crew (1989), and he came second in the 2007 Masters, with minimal practice showing great natural ability in the light stuff. Has a good boat and knows the harbour well.

Sarah Richards (2288) - Arguably the outstanding National Champion of the new millennium, Sarah won the Nationals in 2003 & 2005 with her brother Einstein (Nigel). Much will depend on new crew Chris Jenkins, but a 'dead cert' for the Ladies prize.

Nigel Hufton (2470) - Has placed 4th and 3rd in previous Masters events. Won 2004 Nationals as a crew, has come 2nd and 3rd as a helm and was third Master at the 2009 Nationals. Sails with Merlin/12/Lark crew Andy Douglas.

Andy Shorrock (2339) - Ex-Laser 4000 champion (and top 5s in Larks), Andy is a natural sailor, never to be written off. Has a great crew in 'Lark God crew' Liz Rushall, but his boat may suffer from lack of maintenance.

Martin Jones (2464) - Rather good in International14s, he is sailing the current National champion boat and has local knowledge. Hiking muscles may be rusty if it is windy.

Martin Orton (2029) - A top five sailor from the 80s with crew Ian Brooks and still owns the same boat. Knows the water well from sailing from Chichester YC

Rob Bellfield (2516) - Called The Admiral, but actually a Commander in the Royal Navy. More likely to be seen in a Mirror (21st in 2009 Worlds), but is a proven winner in Larks, Lasers and Warships.

Chris Biglin (2515) - Our current Measurer, Chris is a strong performer amongst the Masters on the current circuit.

Rob Lennox (2496) - Very successful Larkie from the 80s almost won in 1991, but regular Belle Isle winner. Crewed by Charli Lennox.

Russell Gibbs (2490) - Successful Larkie in the 80s, nearly winning the Nationals aged 17, but a long time away. Has teamed up with Phil Rowe again

Jono Pank (2493) - Ex-National Champion in both Fireflies and B14s. Has David Ellis crewing, but Dave perhaps more at home in a J24 now. Both highly competitive.

Steve Fisher (2330) - Re-forming a long-standing partnership with Neil Barber again, after moving to B14s. Watch out for them in a blow, as they should win the Weighty prize

Possible late entries:

Ian Southworth - A God amongst Gods, Ian only spent 2 weeks sailing Larks the Lark Nationals in 1984 and 1989 - and he won both events! Has awesome natural ability, now more likely to be seen winning in J24s (or appearing on YouTube winning the Foxer Nationals!)

Matt Snedker - Another 'Lark God' yet to declare his hand. He won the Nationals convincingly in '95 and '96 narrowly missing in '98 after squeezing amazing speed and pointing out of his ageing boat.

Russell Peters - Hugely successful in a range of boats, from Fireflys to Ultra 30s, including Top-3 finishes in the Larks, but recently seen in a Flying 15.