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FORMULA ONE 2012 Nationals

Rutland SC once again hosted the Hunter Formula One National Championships over the long weekend of 15 – 17 June 2012. A strong fleet of 11 boats took part in the event from the thriving Formula One fleet at Rutland SC with new owners and crew joining the already strong fleet. Activity has been inspired this season by the fleets efforts to attract and develop new crews and a fantastic coaching weekend run recently by legendary coach, and ex Olympian, Barry Dunning funded generously in part by the RYA’s Activate your fleet initiative. It’s particularly pleasing to see more younger helms and crews joining the fleet and adding to the competitiveness. The competitors all enjoyed a lovely lunch on Friday, which was generously provided by the Formula One Class Association, wondering what the weather gods had in store for us with a fresh to frightening forecast for Friday afternoon and Saturday.

As we rigged up and left the moorings the wind was already increasing and an afternoon full of fun and games lay ahead. By the start of race 1 the wind was a steady 18-20 knots and a large proportion of the fleet had decided that reefing was the way to. As the fleet left the start line for the first time, the first casualty of the day was 2009 National Champion Chris Wright sailing Kingfisher with Richard Triffitt, Mark Sutcliffe and Bradley Hilton, who were unluckily hit by a port tack boat two tacks off the start line and headed for home to repair their war wounds whilst the rest of the fleet battled round in an increasing wind and gusts approaching 30 knots at times. Bruce Bonar sailing Tearaway with Andrew Bonar, Graham Colam and David Ashworth stormed up the first leg to lead round the windward mark and headed for the first kite hoist with an impressive lead that was soon reduced to a far less impressive lead following the first of the afternoons many spectacular downwind wipe-outs. Tearaway clung on to the lead chased very hard by Josh Wilce sailing Evolution with Mike Wilce, Fiona Wilce and Hannah Moss. Tearaway took the first race win, followed by Evolution and John Ball sailing Fracas with Chris Ball and Mike Flatman a very well deserved third. This set the general tone for the day with Tearaway showing blistering pace uphill and Evolution showing blistering pace downhill and Fracas giving both a good run for their money. Race 2 started in even more breeze and only three boats now unreefed, details of what actually happened during the race are slightly sketchy as everyone I have spoken to was more interested in navigating their trusty steads round the race course in one piece than watching anyone else but in the very brief interludes between 30 knot squalls kites were seen to be flown in plumes of spray by the leading boats! Tearaway took the race win, followed again by Evolution and Fracas and Nick Bett sailing Apocalypse with Declan Flanagan and Dave Pickett in fourth flying the flag for the reefed boats. After a long slog back to the shelter of the club house a tired and wet fleet (rumour has it some wetter than others) had many tales to tell and widgets to mend over copious glasses of Pimms with thoughts turning to doing it all over again on Saturday!

Saturday dawned bright and as breezy as Friday with the prospect of the wind increasing as the day went along. The smell of deep heat and the sound of creaking bodies were the overwhelming sensations as a tired group congregated in the lounge waiting for the race officers decision. PRO Bob announced a one hour postponement as we watched the topper fleet launch into a ferocious off shore breeze; needless to say that racing was abandoned for the day allowing the fleet to visit their masseurs or retire for a long bath with ‘youngsters’ Graham Colam and Josh Wilce last seen rigging their windsurf kit for a quick blast. The fleet reconvened on Saturday night for RSC’s Olympic theme summer party and all ate and drank well ahead of an early 10am start on Sunday with 4 more races to complete in what was expected to be a dying breeze. All was definitely still to play for and many questions still needed answering; how would the heavy weather experts cope as the breeze dropped? Would we actually get to fly spinnakers all day or even remember where the halyards were? Would there be a new name on the magnificent trophy? Could Nick Bett be beaten on count back by John Ball for the second year in a row? Could Graham Colam get any more bruises? Had Richard Lindley actually fallen in?

The first race of 4 on Sunday started in 12-15 knots of breeze on a shorter windward leeward course with large pressure and direction changes throughout the race which would be the biggest challenge of the day. A much more compact fleet changed places many times during the course of the race with Tearaway snatching the win from Evolution at the last mark with Apocalypse third and Chris Wright in Kingfisher fourth. Race 4 was won again by Tearaway with Kingfisher taking second, Evolution third and Apocalypse fourth. As the fleet sailed in for lunch with two more races left it was looking more likely that there would be a new name on the trophy as going into the penultimate race Tearaway just needed to finish in the top four to secure the trophy for the first time in 8 years of trying with a race to spare; remarkably in race 5 they took their fifth race win of the event winning them then championship. Evolution finished a very close second, Fracas third and Mark Felton sailing Tenacious with Mary Bancroft and Richard Johnson taking fourth. With the winners and runners up already decided, third place was very much still up for grabs between Fracas and Apocalypse. The last race started with a general recall and after the restart, in a dying breeze, the leading three boats of Tenacious, Kingfisher and Evolution sailed away from the rest of the fleet making the best of the pressure and direction changes. Apocalypse worked through from the back of the fleet to a comfortable fourth place although couldn’t quite reach the extra place that would have lifted them to third overall. The race was won by Evolution with Tenacious a well-deserved second and Kingfisher third. Fantastic and close racing took place throughout the fleet with good decisions and starts rewarded and bad starts and decisions punished.

Tearaway sailed by Bruce Bonar, Andrew Bonar, Graham Colam and David Ashworth were deserving winners of the event and became the fifth different winner of the trophy in the last five years. They were pushed very hard in every race by Josh Wilce and team on Evolution who took second overall. John Ball improved on his fourth position in 2011 to take third in Fracas and Class Association Secretary Nick Bett was fourth Sailing Apocalypse (once again missing on out count back!) Huge credit must go to all those who sailed on Friday in what were very challenging conditions and the fact that so many completed races just shows how much progress the fleet has made in the last 12 months.

Thanks must go to Nick Bett from the Formula One Class Association for his organization of us all and of the event and huge thanks from everyone to the race team of Bob Glennie, Mick and Sandra Rust and Stan Brathwaite for managing the racing so well particularly in the challenging conditions of Sunday!

Overall Results:

Nationals 2012 Results