Anyone coming to Clywedog for the first time will be struck by two things: first – the amazing beauty of the place and second, the friendly welcome they receive. (Later on they may well be struck by their famous windy gusts too, but more of that later). It is a spectacular venue and about twenty four boats arrived for our Annual National Regatta. Several Flying Fifteens and other dinghies from the club joined in to race alongside 2 iIternational Canoes, 5 Merlins, an Albacore, OK, Pegasus, Fireball, 2 GPs and a Hornet. The oldest of these was Merlin 36 celebrating her 60th year,. This boat was originally owned by Ian Proctor, who sailed her to third place in the very first Merlin Nationals in 1946.
As has become something of a custom for some CVRDA diehards, the weekend started several days early, with people and boats arriving as early as the Monday before to pitch their tents. The refurbished clubhouse makes a first rate camping centre – why bother with a camping stove when you can use a fully fitted kitchen?
The events started after lunch on Saturday with a pursuit lasting 100 minutes and using the whole of the main sailing area of Llyn Clywedog. The wind was having fun at our expense and gusted strongly throughout the day. Several of us succumbed to capsizes even before the start and headed to the shore. It may have seemed a day for something like a Flying Fifteen, but out in front for the whole race was Duncan in his elderly OK. He seemed to be unfazed by the windy gust despite his side decks working loose and a crack appearing in his mast. John and Lyn in Merlin 36 were putting their boat through it’s paces and sailing very well until the tall river rig was too much for a gust and they capsized as the finish sounded.
The day ended with a fine hog-roast in the clubhouse. We had been encouraged to dress in the period of our boats for this. Lois was born the year our boat was built and would like all photographs of her in her nappy destroyed!
Sunday saw a steadier wind without such gusts. An ideal CVRDA sailing day and the day’s races were the first of the weekend’s series. Three races followed a similar pattern to each other and although Roger’s Hornet was often in the lead with David Rollinson’s Pegasus Blast from the Past not far behind ( being challenged by Keith’s Flying Fifteen) .
In the first race John Rawson sailed his Albacore well and deservedly took first place when the handicap results were calculated with David second and Duncan’s OK third . The second race saw Blast from the Past take first place, Spritefull (Merlin 507) was second and Keith’s Fifteen third. However a capsize in the third race then saw a retirement for David’s Peggie. No doubt David’s brother Keith, sailing a Flying Fifteen, saw his chance to improve his score (family rivalry seems to run deep but very friendly!) . But the race belonged to Philip Philpot sailing a fine race in his National 12 with his daughter. Duncan’s OK was second and Keith third.
Monday saw a return of the stronger, gusty winds. Three races had been planned but the last was to be abandoned. The morning’s race course didn’t venture to the far end of the water where the wind coming through two valleys meet to give some amazing gusts. A few boats did not venture out and others returned home after capsizing. So race four was won by Keith’s Fifteen, followed by the National 12 and the OK. Even less people sailed what was to be the last race of the series. There were more casualties! One of the flying fifteens boldly hoisted their spinnaker only to be knocked down by a gust . Although these boats can’t be easy to capsize this one was called U2 so we shouldn’t be too surprised. A shroud fixing failed in John Rawson’s Albacore causing some nasty damage and throwing him and his crew into the water. The two Rollinson brothers fought it out for the top two places with Keith just letting David through to take first. Duncan sailed another good race to take third – his cracked mast still holding up.
Overall winners were David and his crew in Blast from the Past, Keith with his son crewing the Flying Fifteen second, and Duncan Spencer-Smith taking third place. awards were also given for each of the CVRDA categories, the ‘Wingnut’ award going to John Gardiner for a slight lack of buoyancy in his boat! Clywedog was a new venue for our Nationals and everyone was so well looked after that it seemed a shame to have to return home after such a great sailing and social time. A very BIG thank you to all who had helped to organise this event so well.