Full racing risks
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The Cherub is a two-person 12 foot racing dinghy with asymmetric spinnaker and twin trapezes. Just twelve feet long, weighing around 70kgs fully rigged for sailing, the Cherub combines spectacular performance with the “on the edge” handling characteristics only found in true lightweight skiffs.
Originally created in New Zealand by John Spencer in 1951, Cherubs are mainly sailed in Australia and Great Britain, with a growing fleet in France. As well as this, boats can be found as far away as Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, the USA and Portugal.
The Cherub rules are simple and allow for maximum flexibility for designers, allowing boats to be created to incorporate sailor's own ideas. Also meaning the class develops over time as techniques, materials and ideas improve. All this makes the Cherub one of the most interesting and innovative of all dinghies: The challenge extends from the sailing skills to setting up the boat to suit the sailor, and maybe even designing and building, too.
Cherub sailing is the real thing: True planing performance upwind, but then turn the corner and you’re in for the ride of your life…
13 Cherubs made the trip to Rutland Water SC for the Inland Championships but only 1 came away showered in glory. No, I'm not talking about Paul Croote and Ed Higham in Marmite who took the win. Nor Andy and Jill Peters in Usagi Yojimbowho came second. I am talking about two intrepid warriors who battled against the odds in an 8 year old boat to take 3rd place. Yes, it's Ben Rushton and Tim Noyce in Atum Bom.
After a swift kite run to the start at the far end of the pond the first race took them by surprise as the start sequence was 3-2-1 not the 5-4-1 they were accustomed to (Lesson 1 - Read the SI's as they don't always announce changes to normal sailing in the briefing). Behind at the start they found a lane and using the extra righting moment they possessed proceeded to overhaul most of the fleet on this gusty Saturday lunchtime. A slow tack gave Marmite and Eleanor a way back into the race for the top mark which they both rounded after Usagi. Fourth round the top mark Tim put all of his considerable speed and strength into hoisting the kite while Ben did his best to keep the boat upright with the correct ratio of people on the windward side, and sails on the other and not goose winged. Marmite failed to handle the pressure and went in at the gybe, and Eleanor cracked at the drop giving our weekends heroes a glimmer of a way through. Not ones to capitalise on other peoples misfortune, they decided that the right and proper thing to do was to also throw in a sympathy capsize after rounding upwind at the bottom mark. Previous swimming experience had taught them well and they were up before you could say “holymolyitswindyouthere”. The upwind leg proved fast again reeling in Andy and Jill in Usagi with Eleanor, Marmite and the rest of the fleet left long behind. Just as Atum was about to catch Usagi a second swim at the leeward mark on lap 2 allowed the hunted a brief respite and enough of a lead to close out the first race with the Atumists hot on their heels despite 2 capsizes. Did this show the promise of things to come? I hope you didn't think this tale of toil and strife was going to be that easy.
After this very little is remembered by anyone..brain freeze set in about half way up the first beat of the second race swiftly followed by frost bite. Looking back at the results it looks like after their sights being out on the first race, Paul and Ed in Marmite fired a rapid fire clip of bullets to round out the day, with Andy and Jill showing a remarkable increase in boat speed with their big sails despite the high winds. In the quest of extra speed, Jill decided to do some on the water sail modification with her feet… (Lesson 2 - Despite the name, speed holes do not provide additional speed) The wind increased gradually, with some gusts so large that local cows became airborne. In fact, before the start of race 3 despite not being seen by anyone else, Atum Bom had to capsize in order to dodge a flying Heifer (no, not the one that Tinner met in Largo Bay '06) So traumatised by the aforementioned incident, they decided to quit whilst they were at least not too far behind allowing them time to regroup on shore to warm up in the newly redecorated showers… and then sample the quality of the galley food in the interests of a rounded review of the club facilities. (Lesson 3 - Showers, Chips, Beer… all excellent)
The evenings entertainment was based in the local pub, the Wheatsheaf. Trying to fit 20+ Cherub sailors around the only available 6 seater table was just another problem which was dispatched with ease. A bystander may have thought that the only thing on the menu was Steak or ribs, (or in some cases, Steak AND ribs) due to the high protein intake of the plucky few who survived the day. Tim and Ben, polite to the core, let the others sit and eat whilst taking one for the team and completed a full EU Standard Beer Quality test, consuming 1.75 UK Gallons of Rutlands finest local Brew. They then hung on till last orders to keep the bar staff company, and also ensure that no class members were left without having heard of their days bravery and sheer awesomeness potential. On arriving back at the sailing club, they undertook 3 laps of the building completing a thorough security test (this was not requested by the Club, but I am sure they will be happy to read that Rutland SC is an impenetrable fortress if ever under attack from inebriated sailing heroes). 5 locked doors, 3 keypads and numerous potential locking codes later they through in the towel and woke up Dean and Simon who had kindly offered them a room for the night.
Sunday dawned bright, breezy and once again, chuffing freezing. The teams who had gone to bed early were looking cheerful and enthusiastic… Tim especially was looking and feeling like the back end of a Badger. (Lesson 4 - Big wind Cherub sailing is much like a big night on the beer. You can't just expect to turn up having not practised for months without looking and feeling like a dick).
After much deliberation on shore regarding how many layers of clothing would be adequate (no one wrote it down, but I'm pretty sure that a ratio was devised with X being how warm you ideally want to be, Y was the peak warmth providable by all of the clothing in your sailing bag, and Z was the amount of movement required to sail a Cherub in gusts of 25knots… The ratio wasn't foolproof though, as on reflection most were either toasty warm and waddling about like pregnant penguins, or agile like young panthers… until the frostbite set in.
Wind had veered Northerly which gave everyone the opportunity to test their long distance 2 sail beam reaching skills on the way too and from the starting area and a gaggle of Cherubs gathered waiting for their starting sequence after the Musto's and B14's had set off. Croote and Higham carried on where they had left off the day before and despite trying to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by very nearly sinking the committee boat with a hugely ambitious gybe on the line, they drifted over the line inverted in a modern day take on the Cherub Salute amid a fanfare of applause from admiring fans (*this may or may not be true) whilst Nick Pratt and Johnny Harris in Madge put in a sterling performance to take 2nd proving that in big winds that 97 Rules! Atum were still working to their Dave Brailsford inspired marginal gains strategy which required additional focus on some lesser known capsizing techniques, bearing away in 25 knot gusts whilst avoiding a seemingly moving water tower and also strength testing some of the boats structure using limbs, skulls etc. Some on the water maths told the intrepid few that the podium places were now confirmed and all decided to head back in to save the local authorities having to launch the ice breaker if they had stayed out for the final race. (Lesson 5: Ensure that the improvement curve of the Brailsford inspired training plan correlates with that of the (2014 National Championships)
So, to summarise, a near flawless performance by Croote and Higham in Marmite gave them a convincing win to the opening round of the 2014 Cherub Travellers Series and made them deserving 2014 UK Cherub Inland Champions. Andy and Jill Peters in Usagi showed a stellar high wind performance showing that practise really pays off when handling these high performance craft to add to their already well renowned light wind performances. Ben Rushton and Tim Noyce in Atum Bom rounded out the podium with some glimmers of extraordinary awesomeness which in a bid to stay under the radar so early in a long campaign they mixed in some questionable boat handling and potentially life changing off the water beer related decisions. Nick Pratt and a crew combination of Jo Hutch and Johnny Harris in Madge finished equal on points and 4th overall, picking up the highly coveted title of UK Cherub 97 Rules Inland Champions.
Many thanks to Paul Jenkins for organising the event and everyone at Rutland Water Sailing Club for organising an excellent weekend of sailing despite the potentially difficult conditions and making us feeling very welcome as a class.
See you all at the Isle of Sheppey Open meeting in a few weeks time!
Results can be viewed Here - On the Rutland Result page