Many of you will no doubt already know that Brad Gibson took the 2018 IRSA Marblehead World Championships in Biblis, Germany, his fourth consecutive M title.
The consistency and dedication taken to do this should not be underestimated and combining this with the defence of his 10R World title the week before show that Brad is without doubt currently the best radio sailing skipper in the world; congratulations Brad.
This report is not only about the man on the top step because the GBR team was as strong as ever and larger than ever before with 25 skippers taking part in the 10R and M’s. Some who had been at the last Marblehead German Worlds in Berlin 30 years previously and many for whom this was their 1st taste of international racing. Each and everyone should be applauded for the effort they made to qualify and enter the event and the way in which they represented the GBR and the MYA; although at times very difficult sailing conditions the GBR skippers sailed with a fantastic spirit and understanding of the racing rules and although sometimes on the wrong side of a decision always took their penalties with grace. Well done Guys.
This reporter arrived just as the champagne was being downed for the 10R event, but all reports say that the conditions for both events were very similar with light breeze being predominant and multiple course changes and postponements until later in the day when the breeze built to allow racing, on most days this racing continued through until about 8.00pm. Long hot days given that the briefing was at 8.45am, but great commitment from skippers and race team alike, thanks to Henning and all the volunteers for their efforts over the week.
Although difficult conditions the GBR 10R skippers acquitted themselves well with even those new to international sailing enjoying themselves, usual consistent scoring gave Graham Bantock a fine 4th place, with Dave Potter securing 11th spot in conditions probably not best suited to his design. James Edwards with his newly launched Trance may have hoped for better than his 13th spot but given the conditions he can be pleased in his 1st 10R worlds, Austin Guerrier also competing in his 1st 10R worlds started off with a bullet in his seeding race however he couldn’t quite continue this but still managed a top twenty finish. We have mentioned the conditions a lot, and the wind and heat were definitely difficult for everyone and we must mention again the efforts of the organisers and host club in trying to make all the visitors very welcome, regular free ice creams helped along with the gorgeous strudels and cheesecakes available from the Biblis SV clubhouse, well done and thanks to the host club, more about the food later…. The remaining skippers of Peter Wiles, Hugh McAdoo, Phil Holliday, Roy Stevens, John Cleave, Lester Gilbert and Nicky Ennion had some fine races and we are sure enjoyed themselves learning much for future events. Without seeing the racing, it is difficult to give an accurate description but reports are that boat trim, picking shifts and concentration were more important than raw speed in 2018, and although the newer designs were at the front, older designs were still competitive at this event.
The rest day between the 10R and M events was also the practice and final measurement day for the M’s, most people went through this with little trouble, and the 10R skippers had some well-earned downtime. John Shorrock had some last-minute issues when his radio gear and winch would not talk to each other, but as usual the GBR skippers were on hand to provide nimble fingers and spare parts leaving John to race the week with no further problems. Talking of late concerns, the normally unflappable Peter Stollery was a little ruffled before the opening ceremony as he, Brad and Victoria tried to repair his A rig mainsail, when pushed a bit further it appears that small tents, small children and rolled up sails do not make good bedfellows, however, some nifty cutting, taping and eyelet punching saw them take their seats just before the speeches started and Peter with a rebuilt sail ready for the start.
The seeding races saw the fleet split into 5 heats, all 76 skippers understood the importance of a good seeding race, with 5 heats likely to be the norm for the week everyone knew that staying in the top heats would be tough and competition tight throughout the fleet. Top 3 in race 1 would secure that valuable A heat spot and GBR 31, 39, 42, 67, 88, 95 and 108 all secured this for race 2, a great start by the GBR skippers. Others who had high hopes did not fair as well but it was to be a long week; for some a very long week! Next time you see GBR 43 (John Smith) don’t mention his two (2!) black flag dsq’s. (Smithy will no doubt have a reasonable explanation, but this reporter has not heard it yet.)
The limited variable breeze meant that calm heads and good sailing tactics were the key to success and the eventual top 5 displayed these during the week, Chris Harris showing great skill, with his chartered boat, along with Graham Bantock, Derek Priestley, Darin Ballington and James Edwards were the GBR skippers pushing hardest over the week; none could quite match the top three however. Christophe Boisnault, Brad and Peter Stollery were the pick of the skippers and kept pushing each other with some close racing and rightly finished on the podium with the most consistent racing and results. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of PRO Pierre Gonnet the conditions did affect the racing, creating the best race courses was very difficult and even with two lakes to use much time was lost to the conditions. Start lines were particularly difficult to set consistently, and many races were scratched with big wind shifts. To the credit of Pierre, it did not matter which heat was on the water he tried to have the best and fairest racing available and with his race team gave every effort to keep the racing going. Thanks Pierre, you were a star…
Just mentioning the guys at the pointy end of the fleet does not give the full picture of the week, it is many of the skippers who don’t threaten the prizes who make the event, and skippers such as John Smith, 1st timers, Colin Walton, Vinnie Zammit, Duncan Ellis and the rest of the GBR representatives gave much to the fun and enjoyment of the week, if not on the race course, their company on the bank and at the social events was great, add to this catching up with existing friendships and making new ones and you get a great week of sailing, companionship and promotion of our wonderful sport.
None of the competitors would be able to enjoy themselves without the organisers and volunteers who gave up their annual leave and many hours of time to prepare and run the event. From the welcome and measurement through to the final closing ceremony the hospitality was second to none. The food was both excellent and plentiful and the hosts most welcoming; all of this is credit to Henning Faas, Nigel Winkley, Pierre Gonnet, the host club, Biblis SV and the German radio sailing association who supported the event. The thanks of the skippers and their families go to these for a week that will be remembered for a long time.
Thank you from all the GBR 10R and Marblehead Skippers and we will hopefully do battle again in the near future.
Report By Darin Ballington – Photos Austin Guerrier