🏆 Gary Piper - 2010 Unicorn National Champion
A Fleet of 10 boats participated in the 2010 Championships. There were three new competitors who are very welcome:
Richard Beke – sail no. 1072 (1085 )
Steven Pooley – sail no. 1086
Harry Mach- sail no. 1092
Also as part of Unicorn development, Julius Mach senior sailed his newly modified Unicorn to an A Class. This was achieved with a Shadow mast and sail to conform to Unicorn Class Rules for sail area, except for mast diameter and height. More detailed information is available on the Class web site.
Club Marks Wind Force 1 to 2 NW variable
A difficult start against an ebbing tide in very light variable winds. Dorks / Piper made the best headway to reach the first mark with a significant lead over the rest of the fleet. This advantage was maintained until the first downwind leg when Toft found a favourable wind shift which enabled him to catch and just head the leading boats. Very close sailing then ensured between Toft and Piper for the remainder of the race with Toft taking the gun by two boat lengths from Piper. Dorks who had an outhaul failure managed to maintain third position with R Taylor fourth.
Club Marks Wind Force 3 to 5 W
With freshening winds and a making tide under the boats the start proved challenging. Toft was over the line and had to restart giving the advantage to Dorks / Piper and R Taylor who contested the lead for the next two windward marks. On the downwind leg Piper gained a significant lead and as the wind strength increased he took full advantage of the conditions to further increase his lead to the finishing gun. Dorks and R Taylor continued to contest the next two positions with Dorks eventually coming out on top. Toft after his poor start eventually made the fourth spot. Two capsizes occurred during the race, namely Rogers and H Mach.
Olympic Type Course Committee Boat start Wind Force 1 to 2 W variable
A failed starting gun caused some confusion on the line but the fleet eventually made slow progress against the last of the ebb tide in very light variable winds requiring considerable concentration. Toft and R Taylor made the best of the conditions arriving at the windward mark with several boat length advantage over the remainder of the fleet. These positions were maintained for the first lap with Toft just ahead, but on the next windward leg R Taylor sailed away to lead for the remainder of the race and take the winning gun. Piper / Pooley and Dorks had a close contest to eventually finish in that order ahead of Toft.
Windward/LeewardCourse Committee Boat start. Wind Force 2 to 3 W
A good clean start in a steady breeze with a making tide to the windward mark. Piper led the fleet, closely followed by Dorks and R Taylor. The following downwind leg against the tide saw the majority of the fleet favour the North shore, while Toft went to the South. At the downwind marks Toft rounded first to Starboard, closely followed by Piper. The rest of the fleet went round the Port mark. This proved significant as Toft and Piper had gained significant distance over the rest of the fleet by the next windward mark, but with Piper just ahead. On the next downwind leg, Toft again overtook Piper, but these positions were reversed on the subsequent windward leg. The final downwind leg saw Piper fend off Toft to take line honours by less than half a boat length. R Taylor, Dorks and Rogers also had a competitive race to decide the next three positions in the final 200 meters of the course to finish in that order.
Windward/Leeward Course Club Marks Wind Force 4 to 5 NW
With a fast ebbing tide and blustery conditions the short start line forced the competitors to tack early to avoid going aground. With variable wind direction the beat to the first mark was challenging . Dorks rounded first, closely followed by R Taylor, Piper and Toft. The following downwind leg was fast and furious in the testing conditions, with all four leading boats arriving at the next mark together, but from different tacks. There was some confusion when R Taylor decided to round to Starboard instead of Port! The following windward leg was closely contested between Piper, Dorks and Toft, arriving at the mark in that order. R Taylor and M Mach in the A Class Unicorn gained significant ground on the leaders. With the winds becoming lighter this order was maintained for the remainder of the race.
Triangle / Sausage Course Club Marks Wind Force 3 W
With easing wind strength and the ebb approaching LW the tactics for this race were to prove critical.
The whole fleet made a good start, but Piper found the best wind shifts to round the windward mark first, just ahead of Toft. The next two downwind legs saw Toft catch and pass Piper with M Mach in hot pursuit. Toft then went aground in thick mud during the next beat while trying to avoid the last of the ebb tide. This allowed Piper, Dorks, R Taylor and M Mach to pass and maintain this order for the remaining duration of the race.
Club Marks Wind Force 5 SW
Strong gusting wind off the shore made sail raising difficult and the adrenaline increase at the point of launch. Using the Club line resulted in a reaching start on Port tack. Dorks and Toft being closer to shore picked up a lifting wind to the first mark, to put them clear of the fleet. The next downwind leg was on the limit for nose diving but Toft just beat Dorks to the next mark, with Piper gaining ground on the leaders. The next beat was very difficult in the high variable strength and direction winds. Dorks reached the next mark first just ahead of Toft and Piper. The next two downwind legs were exciting, on the limit sailing, but fortunately the flat water made it controllable. The next beat saw Dorks and Piper tack across the river to the South shore and pick up a lifting wind to arrive at the next mark ahead of Toft. R Taylor and J Mach also took advantage of this wind lift to close on the three leaders. These positions were maintained over the next few legs of the course until the final beat to the line when both Piper and Dorks were lifted away from the line while Toft found a wind shift which lifted him up to the line. Piper managed to tack and just made the finishing line ahead of Toft in 2nd but Dorks had to work hard to just finish 3rd ahead of R Taylor and J Mach. During the race there were a number of equipment breakages, due testament to the difficult conditions. Piper at this point had an unassailable lead in the overall championship contest but only one point separated the next three positions.
Club Marks Wind Force 5 SW / W
Similar conditions to race 7 but a triangular course with less marks made it less tactical. 9 boats started as DTaylor was unable to repair a broken rudder. The start was critical and Piper gained the initial advantage, closely followed by R Taylor, Pooley and Dorks. The downwind legs were again, on the limit, with the heavier helms having the advantage. At the end of the first lap Piper and R Taylor had a clear lead from the rest of the fleet, with Dorks next. The rest of the fleet were all closely bunched, with exciting sailing, involving closely contested and changing positions on different legs of the course. After two more laps and the final beat to the line, R Taylor just managed to beat Piper and take the winning gun. This win also confirmed his 2nd position overall in the championship. Dorks finished the race 3rd and Toft 4th.
Congratulations to Gary Piper in winning the 2010 Championship. The next three positions were separated by only two points and these were decided on the last beat of the last race to make a thrilling end to the event.
The new competitors showed they will be a force to contend with in future years and it was great to see that the average age of the fleet is considerable lowered with their participation. The development of GB1 by Julian Mach utilising available Shadow components proved that the concept is a viable alternative, with the added attraction of future development to use the Shadow Genica. Also capsize tests proved that the sealed mast, ensured that the boat stayed on its side and could be easily righted by the helm.
Stone S C once again proved to be an excellent venue for the Unicorn Nationals, with good sailing water at any state of the tide. Fully supported by professional race management, incorporating varied challenging courses. Incorporation of this event into the annual Stone Week Regatta ensured a comprehensive supporting social programme with full bar and catering facilities. The camping and washroom facilities are also very highly rated.