International One Metre 2011 World Championship
DAVE WOOLEY reports from West Kirby Sailing Club, with pictures by JON GODSELL
West Kirby Sailing Club was an ideal venue.
Held in late May and early June 2011 this was the first model boating world championship to be held in the UK since the Naviga European Championship in 1975. Back in the 1970’s, I was Commodore of the Birkenhead Model Yacht and Power Club for a few years and that club still supports model yachting and it had four skippers in contention at this 2011 World Championship apart from seven from other UK clubs. Jon Godsell assisted with taking pictures at this world class event with skippers coming from as far as Australia and Argentina. 22 nations were represented with a total of 76 skippers. The venue was West Kirby Sailing Club on the Wirral peninsula, with a wide expanse of enclosed water adjacent to where the River Dee opens out into the Irish Sea. As such the lake always remains full as it is not subject to tidal shifts and is ideal for both model yacht and dinghy racing.
The event had some commercial support including from the local authority who appreciated the kudos that the event brought to The Wirral.
The weather and conditions
As you can see from the pictures, the weather varied somewhat, which was no bad thing. The British skippers seemed to prefer a good blow, but in contrast some of the overseas skippers preferred gentler conditions. Either way, it was the same for everyone each day of the competition week! Many of the competitors had the benefit of full size sailing as hobby or as a business. For example, Tony Gonsalvas sailed tourists around Barbados, so he was fully prepared for what the UK might throw at him!
It was run on a large variable course that could be adjusted to suit the conditions. The event was run over a total of 10 days, although the actual competition only occupied a week or so of that. It comprised five fleets with approx. 15 yachts per fleet and 25 races for each skipper who was allowed four discards (worst scores). All the skippers had to be registered and entered via their national bodies and of course all the yachts were scrutinized in accordance with the rules.
Like many other competitive events, there were the skippers to beat, the skippers to watch out for and the outsiders. Added to that, the need to set up the model yachts perfectly for the conditions prevailing on the day and you can see it was not always straightforward.
The ‘buzz’ was about what the top UK skippers were sailing. Here the talk was of a boat called BritPOP developed by Brad Gibson, a highly respected Australian, who is a member of the aforementioned Birkenhead MY&PC and resides in the UK and as such represented the UK, already having a string of previous championship wins to his name. Other front runners included Graham Elliot and Peter Stollery, Martin Roberts, Robert Walsh (sailing a Dave Creed design named Lintel) and Graham Bannock, a world class sailor with a string of wins to his name and his current Pikanto design.
All the races were wide open, but the conditions did perhaps favour the home team who are perhaps more used to windy conditions.
The Tuesday of the competition week was the day the wind blew really hard and boats such as Lintel proved their worth for the conditions and in the hands of Martin Roberts (a previous world champion) and Robert Walsh sailed away from the opposition. As the racing continued through the week, some of the top skippers, while remaining in contention, were dropping points and sometimes the starts were critical to ultimate success in a race.
In the final rounds from the Thursday onwards, the tension was beginning to tell. It was mentioned to me if you are not in the top five in the ‘A’ fleet consistently when racing during such extended periods of time, then even with discards, the chance of a final top placing is very slim. So, on the Friday and Saturday the top skippers had to fight tooth and nail for position and the ultimate goal of being World Champion.
By the end of Friday it was down to one point separating Brad Gibson from Peter Stollery. On the final Saturday, it was not so much forging ahead, but staying out of trouble, keeping your nerve and staying ahead! Thus, in the end just one single point was enough to give the 2011 IOM World Championship to Peter Stollery who had raced a masterful series of races to beat the best in the world.
Behind the scenes
There was, behind the scenes a truly dedicated and efficient MYA team making sure that the results of each series of races were posted as the races finished. Add to that, the diplomatic skills needed to deal with any protests, the different views and languages of the competitors from 22 countries taking part and thus the MYA organising team are to be congratulated for their efforts that ensured it all went so well.
My personal thanks go to Bernie McNulty, current Commodore of Birkenhead MY&PC and to all the MYA race officials who made me welcome and answered my questions without complaint!
Results (top five)
Position Name Sail No.
1 Peter Stollery 39
2 Brad Gibson 42
3 Graham Elliot 109
4 Martin Roberts 22
5 Robert Walsh 125
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