Day 1: Event Report by Guy Fillmore
20 boats set sail from Brightlingsea Sailing Club towards new racing waters for most of the fleet. Some were sceptical of the forecast, but the first day of the championships ended with three races sailed in a variety of conditions from underpowered sails to twin trapezing upwind, putting the championship one race ahead of schedule.
The fleet tried to understand the conditions during Race 1 which provided a good shake out to rid any mishaps early. Needless to say, the Brightlingsea locals made the most of the home advantage. Eddie Bridle sailing with Tom Kyne, and David Conlon sailing with Ed Gibbons, both got solid results in the top 10.
Race 1 saw a number of lead changes. Leo Wilkinson and Guy Fillmore took advantage of a kite hoist snag to overtake Monique Vennis-Ozanne and John Mather on the last leg to win. Monique and John then went on to prove staggering speed and solid tactical decision-making in the light breeze to win Race 2 and Race 3 by some margin.
Behind the speed-ship there were plenty of place changes in Race 2 and Race 3. The ever-consistent Luke and Emma McEwen started a strong series of results with two second-place finishes. Fin Armstrong and Ewan Gribbin got to grips with the reduction in power from their usual 49er in the second race to finish third. Mathias Berthet, jetting in from Norway for the regatta, overcame the same problem with James Hall in Race 3, to also finish third.
Day 2: Event Report by John Mather
Day 2 dawned with blue skies and a warm sun – much to the chagrin of the camping sailors whose tents morphed into saunas for the second morning in a row! However, what was lacking was wind and the sailing area resembled a millpond through the haze. The PRO sensibly set a two-hour AP allowing for sailors to rest their weary legs after the prior day’s squatting conditions.
With the sun disappearing behind welcome clouds, sailors turned their concern from yesterday’s sunburn to whether the wind would build sufficiently. As if knowing the gravity of the event, it started to build from the South East and the fleets were promptly dispatched into the incoming tide.
It was the RS800s turn for the joyous outer loop, meaning any tactics gleaned from the prior day would have to be revisited. A three lapper was optimistically announced by the PRO and a fickle 6/7 knots rolled down the course, the windward mark barely in sight in the haze.
It turned out that the “curse of the bibs” lives true. Leo Wilkinson and Guy Fillmore were involved in a start line altercation in Race 1, requiring spins and subsequently rounding the top mark towards the back of the fleet. They were only just behind Monique Vennis-Ozanne and John Mather who had struggled to find any pace in the lighter conditions. Luke and Emma McEwen found some absolute rocket speed and led from start to finish. Other bib contenders emerged finding their pace; Joe Bradley and Hugh Shone posting a solid second. Mathias Berthet and James Hall started to crank up the pace while also realising that it’s preferable to have the daggerboard inside the slot, not under, whilst racing… As the fickle breeze whimpered on, the fleet finished after two laps with the standings blown open.
It was a similar setting for Race 2. There was a clean start for all and some of the closest racing of the regatta so far – with boat after boat rounding inches from one another. Thus started one of the greatest soak-offs seen in fleet history with some boats on the verge of gybing and crews well and truly on the leeward. A fleet split at the leeward gate ensued much excitement, until a huge left shift ensured all those rounding the left-hand gate had a large advantage. Luke and Emma had not to worry as they were already so far ahead. Ben Palmer and Dicken Maclean spotting the shift well to place second while Mathias and James took third.
No respite for the fleet with the AGM starting straight after racing followed by games and a pirate party – everyone had a great time!
Day 3: Event Report by Ben Palmer
What a scorcher! Some said it was Hawaii conditions for Hawaii night. We had to wait a little for the breeze to fill in, however we were all entertained by a yacht running aground outside the club house. Unfortunately for this yacht they had to stay there all day until the evening high tide could set them free, much to the delight of the sailors sipping their sun downers.
For the RS800 fleet, it was another master class of light weather sailing by Luke and Emma McEwen with three bullets. Matthias Berthet and James Hall almost got to the windward mark first in Race 1 but worked out that they couldn’t quite fit their boat between the mark and Luke and Emma. Ben Palmer and Dicken Maclean tried in vain to challenge Luke and Emma on a couple of races but the contenders held onto the top spot.
Paul and Peter Jenkins, with their bright yellow RWO emblazoned spinnaker, had a smashing day with a 6,5,2. As they said, coming off the water, they have “found their light wind boat speed”.
Racing was super tight throughout the fleet with lots of place changes in the light wind and hot conditions. Some sailors even went for a swim between races to cool off!
Scoring firsts in 5/8 races, Luke and Emma McEwen took the victory overall, with some great showdowns for the other two podium places.