1973 - Shearwater National Championships, Holyhead.

 

MADAME POMPADOUR BEATS THE QUEEN by Frank Chapman

Yachting and Boating Weekly

 

Alan Howland and and James Willmott gained a narrow but controlled win in the National Shearwater Championships at Holyhead last week. Their main rivals Peter Butcher and Julian Martin in the Queen of Spades had to win the last race to take the title but Madame Pompadour triumphed beating her arrival because of a good start. There was some port bias to the line, so much so that Howland decided to risk an extreme port-end start on port tack. It came off and he crossed several of the other 40 starters before turning onto to starboard to start covering Queen of Spades which had been caught with several others in a hole attempting to start on orthodox starboard. Butcher was desperately anxious to have a beam reach during the weeks racing but the equilateral triangles produced very broad spinnaker reaches. He also enjoyed more success in the better blow which gained him a first and second on the penultimate day of racing. There was a rest day afterwards for which the weather turned sour after some rather balmy days and Friday’s concluding race was sailed in mild to moderate conditions under a dull sky.

These were perhaps more to Howland’s liking, with three wins and a third from two days sailing he was still not clear from Butcher who had had a second first and two thirds and that time. With the Shearwater’s, gluttons for work, there are seven points races with two discards so there was still scope for someone with enterprise. There was some opposition from Paul and Roger Brown of Grafham Water who won the County Championship Trophy in Water Lotus III which started off the weeks sailing. They were in the top five in the first four races. Charles Mills in Cat’s Lick ’n a Promise also had some creamy results being in the top four of the first five races. But the main threat to Howland was always Queen of Spades which finished one place higher than Madame Pompadour in a stiff southerly breeze - a definite change from the light northerly experienced previously - which blew the cats around at a brisk rate on the Wednesday. Alan Howland's victory overall was one of tenacity. He was runner-up last year to Ken Taylor who didn't defend this time. Both he and Butcher could recover from modest first beats but neither was at a loss about the best routes and best start-line positions to take. 

Both of these helmsmen and crews contributed much to an exceptionally intriguing week because had their two positions been reversed, in the last race, they would each have finished with three wins, two seconds and third. They did not sail in the practice race and the tiebreaker would likely have been the County Championship race in which Madame Pompadour was second and Queen of Spades third. 

There were duels all down the line with Ian Dinwiddie, entered from Lagos, and sailing Catastrophe II with his dad as crew, boosting his ratings with a first in the sixth race and finally beating Water Lotus III to third place on a quarter point margin after Cat’s Lick ’n a Promise had seemed a real danger. Jack Burke, background and backbone worker for Holyhead SC, for a generation or two, laid some painstaking courses much appreciated by a thin but likeable Shearwater crowd who had no complaints that C. D. Moore in Barracuda won the Concours d’Elegance trophy presented by the instrument manufacturers Schlumberger.

 

 

Overall results:

1. Madame Pompadour - A. Howland - Folkestone SC

2. Queen of Spades - P. Butcher - Mapton Piers SC

3. Catastrophe - I. Dinwiddie - Lagos

4. Water Lotus III - P. G. Browne - Graham Water SC

5. Cat’s Lick ’n a Promise - C. H. Mills - Hastings SC

6. Takitimu - R. H. Everall - Poole YC