Miracle Welsh Area Championships at Shotwick Lake 2023

Miracle Welsh Area Championships at Shotwick Lake 2023

10 Miracles entered the Welsh Area Championships hosted at Shotwick Lake Sailing Club on the 23rd and 24th September. This was one of the best turnouts for this event and it was great to welcome 3 visitors to compete with an up and coming home grown fleet of 7 boats.

Two races were held on Saturday afternoon in a pleasant SW breeze and lots of sunshine. Johnathon Edwards was in charge for the weekend and set an excellent course for race 1. Visitors Wayne and Angela reached the windward mark first, with past members Dave and Zara in hot pursuit, however Wayne and Angela managed to hold them off all race. The rest of the fleet enjoyed very close racing with positions changing frequently. Simon and Julie took 3rd place just 10 seconds in front of Dave and Shan.

Following a well-earned break and stocked up with cake from the galley there was a change of course for the second race as the wind shifted towards the south.  There were a few contentious calls on the start line but it was a clean start and Dave and Zara managed to get in front with a little help from their purple smiley spinnaker and stay there until the final whistle despite Wayne and Angela’s tactics who then took 2nd. Shotwick sailors Paul and Gordon excelled themselves with their spinnaker work and good decisions on the beat and held on to third place for 3 laps. Dave and Shan and Simon and Julie managed to pull in front of them on the final beat, but it was Dave and Shan who took 3rd place 10 seconds in front of Simon and Julie in this race. The rest of the fleet enjoyed some very close sailing and some questionable mark rounding but turns were taken. Newcomers to the sport, Bea and Joe from Liverpool University SC enjoyed the racing and managed to fly the spinnaker for a short time too. Our slightly older helm Geoff (80!) and Sara had a tough battle throughout the race with John and Ian, both flying spinnakers with ease and experience but it was Geoff who crossed the line 2 seconds in front of John and Ian. Andy and Karen were never far from the action.

At the end of the first day everything was to play for on Sunday with joint first and 3rd positions.

Sunday brought gustier conditions to test the fleet; the remnants of Hurricane Nigel were forecast, and some crews were looking decidedly apprehensive, an extra safety boat was launched. O.O.D. Jonathon kindly devised a no gybe course, although it was still challenging with long beats down the lake. Neil and Nick joined, in their new to them Miracle and Andy had a new crew in Beth for the day.

In race 3, Simon and Julie showed their skill on the line and the first beat, getting to the windward mark in first position ahead of the more experienced sailors in the fleet. Wayne and Angela using their distinctive black spinnaker overtook the home pair and kept the lead for the first two legs. Gradually Dave and Zara pulled them in and overtook them on the third lap. The race behind the leaders was close, everyone enjoying the windier conditions and fast reaches. Simon and Julie finished in third place but there was only 20 seconds separating 5th to 7th positions.

Race 4 was sailed back to back with race 3. Simon and Julie continued their first beat prowess with another first windward mark rounding! The good spinnaker handling skills of Dave and Zara and Wayne and Angela in the windier conditions soon helped them pass the non-spinnaker boat of Simon and Julie. This was the deciding race as Wayne and Angela needed the win to stay in contention, it was tight racing all the way, but Dave and Zara managed to hang onto first position with Wayne and Angela in second. Once again Simon and Julie held onto third position and with three 3rds over the two days it seemed likely they would keep this position overall. The rest of the fleet battled on with positions changing rapidly and everyone had a big smile on their faces as they came off the water.

After a well-deserved lunch in the sunshine, the skies darkened and the wind picked up, eight boats started the final race. Wayne and Angela revelled in the windier conditions and got to the windward mark first. John and Ian were also enjoying the wind, sailing well, and staying in close contention to the leaders for the first lap. Dave and Shan in their FRP Miracle seemed to fly up the  reach after the first lap, catching up with the leaders at the mark. The windward leg was difficult in the ferocious gusts, Simon and Julie capsizing while Dave and Shan skilfully got to the mark in front of John and Ian. Dave and Zara retired leaving Wayne and Angela out in front. Neil and Nick were also enjoying the conditions and catching up on the fleet. Dave and Shan held onto 2nd place until the final beat when John and Ian passed them. With the shortened course flag in sight, Wayne and Angela finished first but once again Dave and Shan flew down the leg to catch up John and Ian on the final buoy . John went tight and headed for the line, Dave and Shan sailing their boat, It’s a …. rounded the mark, tacked and headed for the line, 2 seconds in front of John and Ian, it’s a ….miracle!

After a very eventful weekend sailing, the prizegiving was held in the clubhouse to a packed audience. Josie, who had organised the event thanked the galley staff for the home-made catering throughout the weekend, including the Saturday night evening meal. The Officer in charge, Jonathon Edwards and the safety boat crew. And of course, all the competitors who made the event, some even camped the night!

The overall winner of the Welsh Area Championship, and retaining their title were Dave and Zara, with visitors Wayne and Angela in second place. There was a tie with 9 points each for third place between Simon and Julie, 3rd, 3rd, 3rd and Dave and Shan, 3rd, 4th, 2nd. Third place was awarded to Dave and Shan who beat Simon and Julie on last race and had the higher position of the weekend. Everyone went home happy, looking forward to next year’s event in Shotwick.

Article – Thanks to Shan Stapley 😊

A Big, Big thanks to all of the people who helped organise and run this event – you are very much appreciated by all of us – events like this can only happen because of kind, giving people like you!! 🙂

Simon Dolman