Harken Miracle Nationals
Weymouth and Portland Sailing Academy
11th to 16th August 2013
Forty Miracles arrived at Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy for their National Championships, sponsored by Harken and Gibson Sails, to be greeted by sunshine and 10-14 knots of wind. Special mention goes to Marcel and Giulia Neuteboom who travelled from the Netherlands to be one of the first international entries to the UK Nationals. (Miracles are sailed in many countries including Australia, Malta and the Netherlands, although they are strongest in the UK).
Day 1 - Sunday - Practice race and Race 1
Sunshine and 10-14 knots of wind
The practice race got away with pre-championship favourites Jeremy Davy and Ethan Plank, sailing their Butler boat, coming out of the starboard end of the line to lead around the windward mark. They were followed by Sam Mettam and Geoff Phillips sailing their new Boatcraft boat and Nick and Indigo Smith in a Kelly boat. The leading three boats managed to get away from the main pack, and finished in that order, despite some place changing between Mettam/Phillips and the Smiths.
In Race 1, with slightly less breeze, Davy and Plank once more led around the first mark followed by Richard and Katy Byne. Dave Butler sailed an excellent first leg only to arrive at the windward mark at the lead of a group of boats who had gone left on port with the bulk of the fleet arriving on starboard. Slots were few and far between and several front runners got caught out including Dave himself. On the second beat the Smiths got through the Bynes. Further down the top 10 Ally & Harry Jones and Martin & Abby Huett were showing good speed in their new Butler boats.
The competitors retired to the club for a well-attended Quiz, won by the 'Weymouth Wizards'. Some competitors needed to be careful on the race start line the next day though as the Race Officer's Bar team suffered a shocking defeat!
Day 2 – Monday – Races 2 & 3
Shifty north-westerly mixes up the results
Day 2 dawned with a forecast of 10-15 knots from the north west, more sunshine and a photographer, Fotoboat. Hopefully a recipe for some good photos!
Race 2 started in around 10 knots of breeze. A big left hand wind shift just before the start gave a big advantage to the boats that started down the port end of the line, but it was followed by a big right hand shift that allowed sister team Tracy Amos and Karen Smailes, who had started at the starboard end and taken advantage of the tide flooding through the harbour entrance, to lead at the windward mark. Hot on their heals were Ally & Harry Jones and Sam Mettam & Geoff Phillips (Sam having had a short swim on the way up to the mark when his 2mm toestrap rope proved less wear resistant than planned). Unfortunately the Jones tried to squeeze through a gap that wasn’t there and ended up actually round the mark in 12th with Mettam and Phillips also caught up in the aftermath. In the meantime, Richard and Katy Byne sailed through into the lead which they held until the 3rd beat, when they were overhauled by Mettam and Phillips in an increasing breeze.
After a short postponement to move the race course, race 3 started in 15 knots of wind with Mettam and Phillips taking a narrow lead at the windward mark from series favourites Jeremy Davy and Ethan Plank. The lead 2 boats then extended their lead on the downwind legs. A little further back Dave and Ross Southwell were showing their recent return to form having some excellent racing with the Jones and Neil Gibson & Keith Macey. On the third lap a large right-hand shift and a wind drop caught out quite a few of the fleet. Mettam &and Phillips held their nerve to take the bullet from Davy and Plank, who later found out they had been OCS (On Course Side), and therefore the Southwells took 2nd and Gibson and Macey 3rd.
The sailors retired for an evening video debrief sponsored by Gibson Sails.
Day 3 – Tuesday – Races 4 & 5
Lighter Breeze for the 40 teams at Weymouth
The forecast for Tuesday was lighter breeze and more sunshine. With the
class all prepared for better teamwork after last night's coaching session
great things were expected!
Race 4 started in 6 knots of wind with
Brian Jones and John Green taking advantage of the favoured right-hand
side of the course to lead by 20 boat lengths at the windward mark from
Jeremy Davy & Ethan Plank and Sam Mettam & Geoff Phillips. Down the
first reach, Davy and Plank caught up enough to take water at the wing mark, with Mettam and Phillips getting through on the second reach. Davy and Plank sailed away and extended their lead to the finish with Mettam and Phillips coming under sustained pressure from Richard and Katy Byne, but holding their second place to the finish.
The breeze built to around 10 knots between races, suiting Ally and Harry Jones who were sailing very fast upwind to lead to the first mark followed by Davy & Plank and Mettam & Phillips, both of whom managed to sail over the top of the Jones on the first reach. Mettam and Phillips then rolled over the top of Davy and Plank on the second reach. Some very tight tactical racing ensued between the lead 3 boats with the lead changing another 5 or 6 times. By the final windward mark, the Jones were once again in the lead. Davy & Plank and Mettam & Phillips both got through at the gybe mark with Mettam and Phillips once again sailing over the top of Davy and Plank to take the win.
Once again some fantastic race management by Arky Wainwright and his team allowed the fleet to be off the water by half one having had two hour-long races. The afternoon was, therefore, spent with families before the fleet once again retired to the WPNSA bar for the second of 2 days coach debrief sponsored by Gibson Sails.
Day 4 – Wednesday – Races 6 & 7
The first day without sunshine
All good things come to an end, and unfortunately the perfect racing
conditions of sunshine and 10-12 knots of breeze gave way to drizzle.
Race 6 started in around 12 knots of wind with Sam Mettam and
Geoff Phillips leading to the windward mark from Martin and Abby Huett
(celebrating her 11th birthday) and Richard and Fergus Pye. The order
stayed this way for 2 laps, but series contenders Jeremy Davy and
Ethan Plank continued to apply pressure and eventually got through the
Huetts and the Pyes on the final lap to stay in touch overall with a 2nd.
The breeze had built to around 15 knots for race 7. Once again Mettam and Phillips lead to the first mark, this time followed by Nick & Indigo Smith and Davy & Plank. The Smiths applied pressure to Mettam and Phillips but weren't able to break through. By the end of the final beat, Davy and Plank had closed right up to the Smiths and got through on the reaches to take their second 2nd of the day.
With the evening designated a free evening and no official social event, an informal skittles evening was organized, where the odd sail numbers, led by Caroline Noel from Draycote Water, beat the even sail numbers, led by multiple national champion Dave Southwell from Leigh and Lowton.
Day 5 – Thursday – Races 8 & 9
Mettam & Phillips secure the title with a day to spare
The 2013 nationals is the first time an international competitor has entered the event, and therefore before racing a special presentation was made to Marcel and Giulia Neuteboom as unfortunately they had to leave after racing on Thursday and will miss the prizegiving,.
The scene was set for some close racing as Sam Mettam and Geoff Phillips needed either 1 x 1st place or 3 x 2nd places to secure the title, whilst Davy and Plank needed to win the last 3 races and hope they got a boat in between them and Mettam and Phillips.
The day's forecast was for 15-20 knots of wind and sunshine. The first part of the forecast was almost right, and Race 8 started in 22 knots of wind but with grey skies.
Mettam and Phillips lead to the first mark followed by
Dave Butler & Ross Fleming and Ally & Harry Jones. Mettam
and Phillips made the most of the now dropping breeze to
extend their lead by the bottom mark. Unfortunately for Butler
and Fleming, one of the final gusts before the wind died hit
them at the gybe mark and Dave showed the rest of the fleet
that he didn't just build boats, but was also an accomplished
The race progressed with Mettam and Phillips putting a loose
cover on Davy and Plank with the latter battling through to take 2nd place on the final lap, but they couldn't catch Mettam and Phillips who had, therefore, done enough to secure
their seventh title.
Race 9 started in 12 knots of wind with Davy and Plank leading to the first mark followed by
the Jones and Mettam & Phillips. With the welcome return of the sun, a building breeze and
some very close racing the term 'champagne sailing' could probably be used. As tends to
happen when these 3 boats have got together, the lead changed hands several times but
Mettam and Phillips led at the top mark on the final lap and managed to extend down the
reaches. Davy and Plank came under sustained pressure from the Jones but managed to
hang on to secure 2nd overall. This will be Jeremy's second 2nd place at the same venue this
year after a good performance at the Flying 15 Nationals.
Day 6 – Friday – Race 10
With the top 2 places already secured, the focus shifted to who would fill out the rest of the
The final points race started in around 20 knots of wind with national champions Sam Mettam and Geoff Phillips leading to the windward mark followed by former national champions David & Michelle Raines and Ally & Harry Jones. Once again second overall Jeremy Davy and Ethan Plank showed their ability to pull through the fleet and managed to catch the Raines and the Jones. Some very tight racing ensued with Davy and Plank taking second from the Raines and the Jones. 3rd place was enough to give the Jones 3rd overall from Martin and Abby Huett.
Days 5 and 6 – Thursday and Friday –
Non-spinnaker, Single-handed and Youth races
On Thursday evening, Ross Fleming and Dave Butler won the crews' race and before the final race on Friday a combined Non-spinnaker, Single-handed and Youth race took place, with Ally and Phoebe Jones winning the Non-spinnaker race, Jon Willars winning the Single-handed race and James and Paul Robinson winning the Youth race.
Overall the class has been staggered by the facilities,
professionalism and friendliness on the team at
WPNSA. Hopefully the class will be back again in the
Next year marks the 40th anniversary of the fleet and
a special Nationals at Hunstanton. The class is
aiming for 40 new boats and maybe even 100 at the
Nationals with as many former Miracle sailors as
possible. If you want to get involved, please contact
One of the strengths of the class is that it allows
parent and child teams to compete against
lightweight adult teams. Many of the children are
reaping the rewards and are found at the top of the
junior fleets. However, it is good to see that last
year's national champion Martyn Lewis crewing for son 13-year old Daniel (2nd crewing for his Dad at the 2011 Miracle Nationals) put in a top performance at the RS200 Nationals.