GBR IOM Ranking 3 & 4 Hosted by West Lancs Yacht Club
The IOM Class made a return to Southport and West Lancs Yacht Club after a long overdue break, the class this year has seen a return to good entry levels which boasts multiple world champions to newcomers to the class and sport.
Day one saw skippers descend at the West Lancs Yacht Club and the Marine Lake to bright sunshine, soaring temperatures and a good breeze from the North West.
With the briefing concluded the seeding races got away on time and were duly won by Gavin Watson, Peter Stollery & Rob Walsh.
With the wind slowly picking up throughout the day with some big shifts it wasn’t long before boats were nosediving downwind. Picking a path to the windward mark at times was tricky but rewarding when the correct decisions were made. Ideally keeping to the middle of the course was a good idea but with the shifts coming from either side with good pressure the most notable gains were always from the extremities. If you did happen to lose a few places upwind the same gains were always available downwind with more passes throughout the day than I can care to remember.
Peter Stollery who has just returned from a podium at the Marblehead Worlds mastered the conditions recording an unstoppable six points after one discard and seven races, Rob Walsh took out second place by a single point from Graham Elliott who finalized the podium.
Further down the field, Darin Ballington took out fourth place on 32 points with Gavin Watson taking fifth position on countback from Martin Roberts. The score sheet was close no matter where you finished overall.
With the day over after some great racing, the fleet descended upon the West Lancs Yacht Club bar for a class barbeque and refreshment.
Day two dawned with Skippers arriving at West Lancs Yacht Club to be greeted by similar conditions to the day before albeit a bit less breeze from the WNW but brighter sunshine and higher temperatures.
Obviously, the class barbeque had gone down well with plenty taking the West Lancs Commodores speech to heart, where more alcohol consumption would improve results. With that in mind there were plenty of sore heads found around the boat park from some that had not only enjoyed the social at the club but the fruits of Southport’s nightlife.
Racing once away got off on time with a course similar to Saturday but with the startline and leeward gate aligned correctly for the new WNW breeze.
The Seeding races were won by Martin Roberts, Derek Priestley and Graham Elliott.
With racing moving at a good pace Rob Walsh took a firm control of the event posting consistent scores and was never found below A Fleet, a feat only matched by Martin Roberts showing a good return to form of years past.
Conditions were similar to day one with each side of the course paying, the hope always being that you never got caught the wrong side of a big shift once one arrived.
With a good start becoming increasingly important to control the fleet and be in a position to tack on shifts in clean air, general recalls became common place by race four with most skippers pushing the boundaries.
With the fleet still pushing their luck, by race five, PRO Peter Baldwin aired the U Flag catching a number of seasoned skippers off their A game, most notably Graham Elliott who took the wrath of the U flag in races five and six and the end to a top ten finish overall.
Rob Walsh took the win with a convincing nine points after six races with fellow South West skippers Gavin Watson and Tony Edwards taking out the podium.
Once again the scores were tightly packed with Martin Roberts taking fourth place by two points from John Tushingham and Paul Allen and Rob Wilson chasing hard in sixth and seventh.
A massive thank you must go to the race team at West Lancs headed by Peter and Judith Baldwin and Damian Ackroyd, meticously prepared and on the button and providing two exceptional days racing on the water.
Thanks also to Alan Tickle club organiser and all members of West Lancs Yacht Club and the multitude of volunteers that helped make the event a great success, every detail had been taken care of with nothing overlooked, providing excellent facilities and catering with a warm and friendly atmosphere to all competing IOM skippers.
Thanks West Lancs.
Images rights D Ackroyd, more images from the event can be found here