Twenty six A class models contest trophy

Twenty-six ‘A’ class model yachts competed for the Yachting Monthly Cup during their championships at Gosport last week.

The A class model yacht is an historic class, designed to a rating formula similar to the 6 and 12-metre rules. A-boats in the 2008 championship were up to seven feet long, between 28 and 59lbs displacement.

For this event they are not radio controlled, but are instead steered in the traditional way by complex wind vane mechanisms. Racing for vane yachts is organised as match racing. 3 points are scored for the beat, at the end of which boats are taken out and rigged with spinnakers for the run, scoring 2 points to the winner. Each boat has a crew of at least two, as tacking is achieved by poling the boats round when they come in to the bank.

The fleet comprised 19 yachts, plus an extra seven for the YM cup, held on the Wednesday. Fifteen of the competitors were past or present World, European or National champions, both in vane and radio.

On the Sunday there was a good breeze, and at the end of a long day the Stollery ‘Robot’ design of Austin and Harris was leading from the John Simpson design of Roberts and McNulty. Third place was shared by the MYA president, Derek Priestley’s ‘VC2’, and Martin Dovey’s brand new lightweight ‘Sergeant Pepper’.

The second day dawned damp and windy, which was how it continued. The fleet was split into heats, and by the end of the day, after some spectacular spinnaker runs, Priestley was just ahead of Roberts and McNulty, followed by Austin and Harris, with Peter Whiteside’s Simpson designed ‘Bluenote’ running a close fourth.

Day three was wet and breezy, but by now skippers and crews were settling in to the physical demands of the week. An A boat with a spinnaker pulling in 15 knots of wind is a pretty fast outfit. If you don’t get to the end of the lake before the boat, it is a disaster; the only way of stopping the boat is to be there to catch it!

Wednesday was scheduled for racing for the Yachting Monthly Cup. Ghosts of the international competitors of past challenges lured a fleet of 26 boats to the start line, including Graham Reeves 1950 vintage Yeoman, and Bruce Prole’s 1970’s past winner, ‘Daddy Long Pig’.

By the Thursday, crews were feeling the pace, but the winds had moderated and sailing was somewhat less physical for the rest of the meeting. The championship series was on again. A long day of shifty winds was ahead. The shifts made each board difficult to read, and by the end of the day Austin and Harris had started to edge ahead of Roberts and McNulty. The final day of racing was also a day of light, fluky winds.

The event was won by Austin and Harris. It is the tenth time that Austin has won the event. However, the future of the event looks to be assured; as there were two new designs and four new boats at this championship.