Updated: Feb 20, 2022
🏆 Gary Piper - 2013 Unicorn National Champion
Eleven boats attended the event ten participating in the racing which is the same as 2012. Nine of the participants were experienced Unicorn sailors three from the South coast, one from West London and five from the host Club Stone SC. The event on the River Blackwater is held in conjunction with the Club annual Stone week. This enables the Nationals to be held with full race support facilities and evening entertainment to a high standard at a realistic price.
Club Marks WF 4/5 SW with strong gusts
A fast reaching start with Cox leading the fleet to the first mark, closely followed by Toft and Piper. In these testing conditions the helm weight was an advantage to keep the boat flat and driving. This was to the advantage of Cox and Piper who rounded the 2nd mark ahead. The next long downwind leg with the tide was to the advantage of Toft, a local sailor, and he regained the lead at the turning mark. The next beat again saw both Cox and Piper regain their leading positions. Piper slowly opened a gap ahead of Cox which he maintained over the next lap of the course to take the winning gun ahead of Cox 2nd and Toft 3rd. A couple of boats suffered equipment failure in these testing conditions but no capsizes occurred in the fleet.
Club Marks WF 1/2 SW with heavy rain
Cox was first across the start line with Toft and Piper in close pursuit. The first two beats against the tide in light shifting winds required concentration. J Mach and Dorks ,who is the expert in these conditions, caught up with the three leading boats. It was then close racing on the long down wind leg ,with five boats led by Piper reaching the turning mark within three boat lengths. Piper, Cox and J Mach decided to beat across the river with the ebbing tide taking them away from the finish, while Toft and Dorks tacked and beat out of the tide and then crossed the river to the finish. A wind shift in the closing stages of the race favoured Piper, Cox and J Mach with a lift to the finish while Dorks and Toft were disadvantaged. Piper took the finishing gun just ahead of Cox with Dorks third. The freshening wind assisted the rest of the fleet to close on the leaders and all boats finished in a close bunch.
Club Marks WF4/5 SW with strong variable direction gusts
Piper, Toft and J Mach made a good start with an exhilarating top speed fetch to the first mark. This was followed by a beat against the tide which was very strenuous and favoured the heavier helms. The three leading boats had a significant lead over the rest of the fleet at this point due to equipment breakages and the difficult conditions. On the downwind leg Piper pulled out a small lead but on the beat back to the start he made significant gains .over J Mach and Toft who were having a close race for the second position. There was no change at the front over the next lap of the course with Piper first , J Mach second and Toft third. Cox who broke his rudder connecting bar just before the start, repaired it with a wooden broom handle and managed to complete the race in 4th position. J Moore capsized and H Mach retired with a breakage.
Club Marks WF3/4SW
This was the third race of the day and some competitors decided not to compete. The reduced fleet of six made a good start but soon Cox and Piper pulled away from the other boats and a very close and competitive race developed between these two. This was a good test for the new GP Sail used by Cox compared with the old Caws used by Piper. Over the 50 minutes of racing on all points of sailing there was never more than a couple of boat lengths between these two competitors. In a thrilling finish on the final beat to the line, Piper just edged ahead and took line honours, with Cox second and J Mach a distant third. The remainder of the fleet completed the course without mishap.
Committee Boat start WF4/5 SE
A Windward /Leeward course was set in a freshening SE wind against the ebbing tide creating the typical Blackwater chop. A Brooks made an excellent start closely followed by Piper and Cox. Toft was the only boat to try a Port start. At the windward mark Cox was leading Piper but Toft was a close third. The rest of the fleet were finding conditions difficult and were well spread out. A Brooks suffered a breakage and required a tow home. Cox continued to lead the race over the next 4 laps with Piper in close contention. At the committee boat gate Cox gibed around the mark to change tactics by beating up the North side of the River. This appeared to take Piper by surprise as capsized on the gibe leaving Cox to complete the final lap and take the winning gun some distance ahead of Toft 2nd and J Mach 3rd. Other retirees were and J Moore who suffered damage to his rear beam supports. And D Taylor who broke his kicker. A very testing race for the helms and boats.
Committee Boat start WF 3/4 SW
Same course as race 5 but the tide had changed direction. All boats made a Starboard start except R Dorks. J Mach led the fleet away closely followed by Piper and Cox. Piper sailed very fast and pulled away from Cox and Mach to reach the windward mark first. Toft and Dorks were also in contention. Over the next three laps Piper maintained his lead over Cox to take the winning gun with Cox 2nd but the next three boats changed position several times making for exciting racing. On the final lap J Mach was leading the pursuing bunch to take 3rd place with Toft and Dorks close behind D Taylor who capsized before the start managed to complete the course A Brooks also suffered further boat damage and retired.
Club Marks WF1/2 SW
After a delayed start due to a very active thunderstorm in light variable winds the first beats against the tide would test the skills and concentration of the helms. J Mach was a little to keen to start and was over the line allowing Piper, Toft and COX to once again lead the fleet by a significant margin at the windward mark. On the long downwind legs positions between these three boats changed making interesting racing. On the next beating legs against the tide Piper managed to pull out a small lead over Cox and Toft. This was extended over the next lap to take the winning gun with Cox 2nd and Toft 3rd.
Club Marks WF1/2 SW
Piper did not contest this race as he had won the Championship with 6 firsts. The main interest was for third position between Toft and J Mach who were tying on equal points.
J Mach and R Dorks made the best start, but again beating against the tide in light variable winds was to prove significant. Cox and Toft caught J Mach and R Dorks on the downwind legs, assisted by an uncharacteristic mistake from Dorks, by rounding the wrong mark. At the final downwind turning mark Toft just led Cox, Dorks and J Mach, all four boats being within 3 boat lengths. Toft with clear air opted for a direct beat against the tide to the finishing line, while Cox and Dorks tacked to the North shore out of the tide, a longer but safer option in the conditions. J Mach had some seaweed problems on his dagger boards and after clearing them sailed across the tide to the South shore. The apparent wind went very light and shifted direction to the disadvantage of Toft , Cox and Dorks. This left J Mach with the advantage and he made the most of the situation to take line honours and 3rd place in the Championship. This was his first win in a national championship race and justified his investment in a newer boat and new GP Sail for this year’s event. Cox and Dorks found sufficient wind to complete the race in 2nd and 3rd positions respectively. While Toft was becalmed in the ebbing tide as a bemused spectator, finishing finally a distant 4th .
First three boats were all Piper built wooden hulls with Needlespa Masts. Piper used a CAWS sail in top condition for championship racing while Cox used a new GP sail made from modern laminate materials and Mach used a CAWS sail for the first four races and then a new GP Sail made with conventional Dacron material in the lighter winds. All other boats used CAWS sails. From the results it is apparent that the new GP Sail is competitive in most sailing conditions and is a good replacement for the CAWS sail. Toft and Taylor used Condor built sandwich foam hulls and Brooks used a Trowbridge Glass built boat the oldest in the fleet. The Piper shaped hulls giving a slight advantage over the conventional shape hulls but the strength of the glass hulls over 25 years is a plus in their favour. A great week with all types of wind and water conditions. Unfortunately at the end of the week John Moore 1084 decided to bring his Unicorn sailing to an end and kindly donated his boat to Arthur Brooks.Thanks John for your efforts and good company during the time you have spent with us.
1st Gary Piper, 1100
2nd Owen Cox, 1088
3rd Julius Mach, 1091
4th Peter Toft, 1074
5th Robert Dorks, 1099
6th David Taylor, 1067
7th Arthur Brooks, 157
8th Harry Mach
9th John Moore, 1084
10th M Stephenson, 1096