Allen Enterprise National Champions 2017- Jer & Becca Stephens

The Enterprise Class held its National Championship this year at Abersoch, hosted by South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club, from 6th to 11th August, writes Phil Bevan.

Attendance was down on recent years, but it was still very competitive on the water and very sociable off the water. In this one design class boats ranged from the latest epoxy creations to the traditional varnished wooden boats. Two of the top three were over twenty years old, Tony Prior built boats.

An interesting development this year was the number of fathers attending with their daughters. The girls both sailed and partied hard!

In the first day of racing, Monday, 3 races were held in a nice F3 out in the bay. Phil and Laura Bevan won the first race, followed by Dave and Beth Porter (note the “father / daughter” theme). Race 2 and 3 were won by Jeremy and Rebecca Stephens (another “father / daughter” team).

The second day brought more wind, F4. This proved to the liking of Paul Hobson and Craig Wheatley who banged in two bullets in races 4 and 5. There was a slight drama during race 5 when Paul and Craig got to the windward mark only to realise they had no idea where the wing mark was. The fleet blindly followed them towards the shore, until eventually the mark was spotted way downwind. The fleet then peeled off to go virtually side by side down what was now a run. Martin and Abigail came second in race 4 and Jeremy and Rebecca second in race 5.

Racing resumed on the Thursday after the lay-day. Race 6 was held in light winds F2/3 with the windward mark under the cliffs towards Pwllheli. This resulted in some big holes and interesting wind shifts. There were some big place changes; one of the more dramatic being when Phil and Laura whilst near the front of the fleet took an extreme left route on the second beat leaving the rest of the fleet to head out to sea – only to lose at least 10 places. At the end, it was the reigning National Champion, Tim Sadler sailing with Millie Pryke that mastered the conditions to get the win.

For the second race of the day (race 7), the course was re-set towards the west in better wind. A slight pin bias and a favoured left side saw the leading group of boats emerge from there. Phil and Jane, Phil and Laura, and Tim and Millie, rounded the windward mark in that order. These three pulled out ahead and after a close battle, it was Tim and Millie who got their second win of the day, followed by Phil and Jane, then Phil and Laura.

The forecast for Friday had always been rather scary looking. So, when the fleet gathered on the beach with the wind howling, there was more than a degree of trepidation. However, this turned out to be one of those days that anyone taking part will never forget. What followed was “the mother of all dinghy races”, a day of drama, for some a day of carnage. Getting down to the start was exhilarating enough, but then the wind and waves increased!

The beat was hard work with mains frequently flogging. Down the first run Jeremy and Rebecca showed outstanding (foolhardy, idiotic) downwind speed to fly past Phil and Laura to lead through the gate. It was the same story on the second lap.Yet again Jeremy and Rebecca went for broke and let it rip downwind. They sneaked into the lead just before the finish, but having sailed hotter angles needed to do two extra gybes to get through the gate. This allowed Phil and Laura to get on the inside and claim their second race win.

With the points all added up it was a clear and well deserved overall win for Jeremy and Becca Stephens. They finished in the top 10 in all races with a discard of 7th. This is their first National Championship victory and are a popular and well-liked team. Phil Ford and Jane Humpage came second, for the second time in a row, with Phil and Laura Bevan in third.

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