The Scorpion Nationals Story 2017

The Scorpion Nationals story.

The Scorpion National Championships 2017 – what a week for club and class, below is a club biased story from this one of the organizers, competitors, members.
It seems a while ago now,  but back when July turned into August the club hosted one of the classes that has been a permanent feature at CCSC for many tens of years – the Scorpion – for their week long National Championships. They were returning after a 15year gap, with champs at the club before that in 1996 and 1990.  Testament to the class build quality that 2 out of the 3 previous winning boats were back this year, and someone from all 3 teams was competing in 2017.
As a bit of an executive summary, despite some serious breeze and added occasional rain, the week was a great success and we believe it was enjoyed by certainly most if not all the competitors, a number of whom put pen to paper to thank us, but also hopefully most of the volunteers who gave their time to make the event happen, and make it memorable.  

As the week approached,  the red and pink figures started stacking up on Windguru,  and as if to prelude this – the early arrivals on Friday were greeted by a few of us extending the club welcome as best we could in the rain and wind of a cadet cancelled Friday evening.   In addition to mass catering organization for the week ahead by Sandra, there were boat spaces, posters, flags, blackboards, race docs and other stuff underway – but your author had a bit of damp ‘entertainment’ as official witness in the saga of ‘get Tangaroa legally & safely on the water’ – starring Richard White, co –starring Rob and Emily. Long story short (worth asking Richard the full version over a beer), Fridays go was much more successful than Wednesday’s – to all our relief!, Richard was smiling on Wed but only as an anti-crying mechanism!

Richard acting as ‘test weight’,  Rob just getting cold.  Not sure who has the better job!   

Saturday fortunately gave us a big mix of rain and sun, for arrivals, chat, a visit to Linda & teams’  registration table and then a great Commodore’s reception followed by facts and fun of Bill’s briefing.   When visiting other clubs for events we often expect this social to be the Commodores ‘deception’ – i.e – you need to have planned another meal at some point, but not for ours – lots of buffet, in a lovely full club. Championship game on.
So race day 1 arrived for practice race followed by championship Race1,   well, whoever was praying for wind got their wishes in white tipped spades. This turned out to be our one day of in-harbour racing, which was a great call as outside could have been a messy start to the week.  It’s really worth cutting & pasting the link below and having a look at the video our ‘on water judge’ Peter Aitken took – and while doing so – worth knowing that most of those featured are very competent sailors including the stars of the show (watch out for the orange kite!).  As usual pictures don’t convey the conditions,  but suffice to say, when it got to Sunday’s BBQ cooked and served by the 2000 team, everyone was grateful for the big spread being served, and that the hilarious balcony games devised and administered by Sandra were not too physical, even if they made the participants feel physically challenged!  These included the apparently simplest of tasks – drop a pen on a piece of string into a bottle! John Mursell sailing with CCSC multiclass star SamB had started the sailing in good form, but as for pen on string! – never before has John been so far behind the fleet! Games culminated in the bonus points ‘Egg Roulette’ (plastic bin bibs provided!), which involved a degree of home team self-sacrifice cheating (Richard & Elizabeth maybe!)   The club window made a brilliant spectator gallery – free from abuse, and egg debris, with any rules infringements likely being raised by chief spectator Judge Peter.

The games viewing gallery,  or Judges panel!

Come Monday everyone was getting into the swing of things with bacon butties and pre-race/on-water provisions pouring out from the great galley team which Debbie B kindly stepped in to help run in a big way.  Meanwhile the race and safety team were briefing and heading into the Bay where beachmaster No1 – IanG - signalled the fleet to also head to for the first of two big days in the 17-22knt range.  
Mondays two races started setting the scene for the pecking order, with defending champs Chris Turner and crew Alex Hayman from Lyme not yet regretting selling his 2016 winning boat to Jock – by just leading in their brand new machine from another previous multiple champ Tom Jeffcoate and Tim Hartley. Club prospects were high with two boats in the top 10 – JohnM & SamB in 5th and Adrian & myself in 7th,  however only tinged by Knightly and Mike’s promising 2nd& 7th being followed by a regatta finishing back injury for Alex.

It had been proper windy again, so the chance to sit down at the class AGM was taken up by the majority.  The uptake for Sandra’s treasure hunt was initially slowed by post AGM/race apathy,  but good cajoling and the word spreading that there were ‘drinks’ involved – increased the team count gradually.   Drinks actually mean’t – anything that that had been residing at the back of the drinks cupboard at our house, parents, and participating members – served in tiny shots.  Stops included Sandra in boat park corner (Honey liqueur proving a favourite!), Barry & Liz (& BrianW assisting), Micheal & Robyn Abbott, and Bill & Marianne – thanks to all for agreeing to put up with waifs and strays at your door step/dispensing booth/clue spot!   When Bill was finally released from duty to come for a full sized beer at the club, thinking no-one else was going to make it to his clue station,  Marianne had to put up with JohnM, Alan Ritchie and a motely team who’d apparently created a clue free drinks stop – The Old Castle pub!
All that before 3 race Tuesday – a good and not un-expected call from Bill & team to fit 3 in – based on likelihood of losing Wed or Thurs.   So Kev Francis had enjoyed his Scorp baptism and was about to find out what 3races of front end pain was like watched by helm Dave Elston from the dry-ish bit just behind Kev’s shoulder.  They had a consistent day in the teens, in close company with Jock and Cara whereas 2015 champion Andy McKee with new crew Steve Graham from Northampton were also consistent,  but the kind of consistent we all want – scoring 2,1,1, for their day in the bay. This put them in a three way tight battle for supremacy with Chris & Alex and Pete Gray & Rich Peppardine of Staunton Harold and now ‘Pitchpole SC’!

Jock & Cara chasing Adrian & Rob 

It was at this stage that most were appreciating challenging but brilliant conditions and similar qualities in almost perfect courses/races with absolutely stunning reaches - thanks to The Boss Bill, Nick ‘the mark’ Spicer, David ‘super-ARO’ Rollinson, Paul ‘recall’ Robbins, and the whole race team. This proved the ideal point for Richard & Emily to gracefully retire from proceedings, mission accomplished with all 3 big Tues races completed in 1646 (41yrs old!),   and no input req’d from the many and varied safety crews who were called on occasionally and kept an eye on us all (while also seeing some good action close up) to, from, and in the bay.   Sandra sailing with Elizabeth Bowers threw in their best score of the week with a 19 for race 6, despite Lizzie having another on-water kicker repair session (dodgy bosun work!),  and Steve & Wendy were back in the game after rudder failure sorted on the oldest boat in the fleet – 1620 – AdamB’s ‘Fiasco’.  At the top John & Sam also counted their best score 2nd, having led two of the races early on  - but not quite enough pies to hold on for the duration.

John & Sam leading into windward mark

There were multiple makers of the pre-made evening Chilli, with HelenA, Michelle & SamP the cooking and serving team for the now well stretched sailors.  Their minds were subsequently stretched in the now traditional quiz kindly and cleverly compiled by long time Scorp (and quiz) man Nigel Denchfield.  Other members of the Scorpion family put in lots of pre-effort and a fair bit during the week to ensure a good one for all, in particular the ever present Linda Wolfenden,  but also all the class association gang, their involvement being part of what makes it a great class.
The forecasts were right on the mark for Wednesday and Thursday, which unfortunately were both lost to 30-40+knt winds and some more rain.   Aswell as some trips to get salty at Portland Bill and further afield, Sandra packed some of our board games, and for a big lump of Wednesday the club was busy with copious tea/coffee and various games or just chatting tables.   Out in the rain,  Tom Jeffcoate and Tim Hartley made good on a poss beer induced brag – that they would go out and try for a top Scorpion speed record whatever the conditions,  possibly achievable as no-one else had tried yet.  The gusts of upto 37knts allowed a top of 20mph (18.1knts) impressively with kite up and throwing in atleast 2 successful gybes (1 big swim),. This was viewed through the rain and low vis by some hardy spectators and the odd idiot with their camera wrapped in plastic bags (me).  Proved almost worth it as Tom & Tim were slightly disappointed to find that the support Rib team/mates had failed to press the right button on the video camera!   Additional entertainment appeared occasionally passing the club windows in varying degrees of control, as some brave and generally youthful tried their co-ordination skills on the wobble bike and uni-cycle that Baz kindly packed with the boat. Cara looked at home on the uni-cycle and Mikey mastered the wobble.

Tom & Tim finishing a ‘speed run’ on Wild Wednesday.

In addition to obligatory trips to watch the waves/spray at The Bill, there was plenty of last minute fancy dress time,  allowing the winning Amy Winehouse and all the other pop stars to fettle their costumes for the famous Thurs party.  It was as colourful and impressive as always (inc lots of Abba!), perhaps not quite as legendary as some years – with one eye on the SI change for a 3 race Friday to maximize the series.
Thursday Pop Stars party

 Dave & Kev + 1 pint too many!!
Class chairman Chris (left) – before the sweat & make-up mix!

Final Friday provided proper glamour conditions, again top teens mainly, a bit of wavy stuff to play, and sparkling sun.  More great courses and the race lengths were set ideally to get three really good championship deciders in, and use up our energy reserves.   Fiasco finished it’s week with their two best results,  Popsy & Just Crackers were as close as they had been all event in the mid twenties,  Discreet Banana had a good last day but couldn’t quite catch Highway Star overall in the mid teens, Ice on Fire finished on a high with a last race 7th to stay just in the top 10,  and Snap Shackle & Plop finished the day much better than their BFD to start and secured top CCSC boat in 6th.
Full results are on our web-site – with a direct link on the front page left hand side.
All the hard work from Alison & Chris (with HALS man Peter Hopford) to get the results working (inc all the many Scorpion special categories), was poured over each day on the chart room window,  but displayed in full 9 race glory while packing up was underway.  The top of that list were popular and deserved 2017 champions Andy McKee and Steve Graham sailing under Northampton burgee,  just 4 points ahead of Chris & Alex,  who took silver by just 2 points from Tom & Tim. Only 9 pts separating the top 5 boats in the end.
Prep for the final social of the week, ‘Fri cadets style’ cook it yourself BBQ, was underway in the background while the really well attended prizegiving took place.  The Scorps have a lot of lovely trophies and many prize categories,  a good number of which CCSC featured in.   In addition to our two teams within the top 10 prizes, trips forward for trophy & sponsor voucher collection were made by Cara (1st junior crew, Elizabeth 2nd), Alison & Chris (2st Bronze fleet & 2nd old boat), John (2ndVeteran helm), Adrian & I (2nd Ancient mariner pair, 2ndVeteran crew, and 2nd Classic Wooden boat), and the whole CCSC sailing team  (1st largest club entry – retained).
Team Castle Cove

Despite the missing race days, this was a great championship that was partly made by the big breeze and our great sailing venue,   but mostly made by the Castle Cove team including all those involved.  There were over 100 names on our helpers lists, and obviously a few very critical ones,  but a very big thankyou to all.   Many visitors said thanks for a great week as they finally departed, including the inevitable but good to see large table of the hardcore young travellers who were wanting to make sure there was not much left behind the bar on their last evening before some long drives north the next day. 

Rob S.
Photos courtesy of Amy Forbes (and me)

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