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Darin Ballington

2019 Nationals - Your thoughts

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Well, after a long wait the 2019 Nationals is over, two great days with conditions that required almost all of the rigs; it never got to B2 conditions, but that was Ok as I dont have a B2 rig!

I thought the race management was excellent, despite the best efforts of the wind and weather and I thank all of the race team , Birkenhead Club for their efforts and West Kirby SC for making us feel so welcome. Its going to be a great venue for the 2020 Worlds, keep your eyes peeled for more on that....

From my point of view it was great to see the variety of competitors and boats who were there and see that the age of the boat was not a major factor in the fun factor or competitiveness.

If you want to know more about how to get into the class take a look on the Marblehead Class website, there's information and tips on how to find out the next events and the great "pimp my marblehead" series whihc helps you get the most outer of an older design.

Anyone else enjoy themselves?

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Posted (edited)

Darin and All,

I agree that the race team and Birkenhead Club did a fantastic job in running both regattas (10R & M's). I found West Kirby Sailing Club also to be friendly and accommodating when it came to the debriefs and the social event in the evenings.  That aside, over the course of the 4 days many skippers suffered from radio control issues. I am not sure why this was happening, a theory presented to me was because for most of the time we were not in an elevated position, to allow an easy path for the radio signal to travel to your boat. People can take that theory the way they wish. However, should I be lucky enough to qualify for next years Worlds, the radio control issue will be a concern for me and I am open to listen to other peoples thoughts on this.

Did I enjoy myself, of course but my boat , my legs and feet may tell you differently.........lol!!



Edited by John Taylor

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Two very well run events by the Birkenhead team  under the organisation of Graham Elliott.

Our race team worked very hard to give us the fairest possible race in  steady winds on the Saturday and shifting winds on the Sunday. A couple of reaching starts were tried and rightly blown up for not being a fair contest showing us that what might be fashion in full size boats doesn’t always translate to our side of the sport.

One point that continues to be of contention is the speed in which the black flag is put in use, sadly another big boat fashion that we have to put up with more and more, with rule 30.1(round the ends) forgotten. Thankfully I believe we only had 2 black flag starts over the weekend due to well set start lines but in my mind that’s two too many without using 30.1 first. 

Could I suggest that our guidelines for good racing going forward on starting procedure be looked at as the penalty on a skipper, far worse the larger the fleet and significant travel and cost to attend, needs to be understood.

My reasons are these:

- we are not sat on our boats and able to judge more closely our distance to above or below. To see this we have to stand more forward of the line.

- in HMS, a BFD (black flag) is an outrageously heavy penalty of maximum fleet points, not just the heat you are in +1. To add to this you are also relegated. All of this just because at often a not so insignificant distance away you were adjudged to have broken the start??? 

- does the penalty fit the crime? It does not. Let’s say for instance we have a start with all boats lined up and a cowboy decides to run the line from above, dropping down and affecting a number of boats through collision. The cowboy is allowed to blissfully sail on, take a couple of turns and complete the course or if he or she caused damage, retire and take a heat +1 score with relegation. More grief caused, yet a lighter punishment.

- what do we want from our racing? Open ended at different levels but in general it’s the opportunity to race a fair race with all competing.  Whether we get one or two full less races in over a weekend is of far less importance than making sure the races we have are consistent and fair to all skippers that pay to enter. It is the competitors race! You only need to look back at the last 2 IOM international events to see which races Black flag starts were used in as those in contention had their worst races and the chancers with little to lose rolled the dice. Races unduly shaped by trigger happy PRO forgetting the race wasn’t about them...

Going forward I think if we remember the above and give skippers every chance by allowing the difficulties they face in getting off the line clearly we get good racing. By all means go to a black flag but not before at least 2 general recalls and a couple of goes with 30.1. After all if we have eagle enough eyes to pick out one BFD boat, then why don’t we have the same clarity to name 2 or 3 over in starts that are more fair without scare?

Again, we only had 2 BFDs over four days of racing so the above could be energy could be better directed elsewhere but They are points worth understanding from any race team I believe. End

PThe full team of helpers did an excellent job in some pretty foul weather at times from the guys in the boat to the ladies that kept our heats up to date and scoring spot on. The WK club were welcoming hosts as always and couldn’t do enough for us.

A few boats struggled with a lack of preparation and sometimes avoidable, sometimes not, collisions putting a few out of races but if we look back a few years I think the number that continued to race in the heavy conditions compared to years past we see a large improvement through better maintenance awareness and better built products across the board.

As for signal loss, this generally happened on days where boats were heeled away from skippers at distance and signals were weak through carbon. Situations we rarely get at other venues but something that those in the radio game need to look at as it seemed more noticeable on newer radio versions.

Thank you Birkenhead and West Kirby



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