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FORMULA ONE 2013 Nationals

Rutland SC once again hosted the Hunter Formula One National Championships over the long weekend of 21 – 23 June 2013. A strong fleet of 11 boats took part in the event with 9 boats from the thriving Formula One fleet at Rutland SC and two visiting boats; Spider Pig sailed by James Nield and team from Royal Windermere YC and Omzingeli sailed by Ralph Mason and team. With three previous national champions in the fleet along with a Northern Championships winner in James Nield, the scene was set for a proper ding dong at the front end of the fleet. The forecast was predicting a variable and fitful breeze on Friday which was due to turn fresh to frightening on Saturday and Sunday, and for once the forecast didn’t disappoint!

As the fleet sailed out to the racing area on Friday morning a steady 6-8 knot breeze had built and the sun was shining and all looked good! Friday was definitely a game of snakes and ladders as the wind changed and flicked around all day giving tricky conditions for the PRO and the fleet alike. Race 1 set the tone for the whole event which was really close tight racing all the way through the fleet and was won (just!) by defending champions Tearaway from Rutland Sailing Club sailed by Bruce Bonar, Andrew Bonar, Graham Colam and David Ashworth, from Apocalypse from Rutland Sailing Club who was a very close second, sailed by Nick Bett, Declan Flanagan, Mark Webb and Tom Roden. Third was Evolution from Rutland Sailing Club sailed by 2011 National Champion Josh Wilce, Fiona Wilce, Matt Hollis and Hannah Moss. Race 2 took place after a break for lunch and was to provide some of the trickiest conditions of the day with large pressure and direction changes. Spider Pig from Royal Windermere YC sailed by James Nield, Richard Pratt, Peter Frith and James Longden won the race followed by Tearaway and Apocalypse who were sailing very consistently in the tricky conditions. Race 3 was another very closely fought race and was won by past national champion Kingfisher from Rutland Sailing Club, sailed by Chris Wright, Will Hall, Dave and Liam Borrett, Spider Pig consolidated their day with second place and Evolution took third. The fleet retired to the clubhouse and balcony for plenty of chat and copious glasses of Pimms with thoughts turning to what Saturday had in store for us, with memories of ‘big’ Friday at last year’s nationals still fresh in people’s minds!

Saturday was epic and provided some real breeze to test people’s skills, nerves, swimming and keel walking skill and the three back to back races were to prove a real test of stamina for all. A solid 15 – 20 knots was the order of the day with plenty of gusts well in excess of that to catch the unwary at bear away, hoist, drop or gybe time. Add to that a windward mark tucked underneath the peninsular shore providing some wicked shifts and gusts, which all added to the excitement at the top end of the course and provided some truly spectacular wipe-outs and meant that any hard earned lead was always at risk.

Amazingly, throughout Saturday the first four boats often finished within a minute of each other after over an hours racing giving some truly spectacular racing. After a general recall, Race 4 was won by Tearaway, with Spider Pig a very close second and Kingfisher third. Race 5 started in even more breeze, 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 squalls, kites were seen to be flown in plumes of spray downwind by the leading boats reaching speeds of over 12 knots! Tearaway again managed to keep their boat the right way up throughout the race and held on to win the race, followed by Evolution in second and Spider Pig in third. The last race of the day was sailed in an increasingly gusty wind and tired bodies were starting to make mistakes throughout the fleet, Spider Pig sailed through the chaos to claim their first win of the day, Tearaway hung on for second and Evolution third. At the end of day 2, defending champions Tearaway had a two point lead over Spider Pig but with lots of breeze forecast for Sunday all was still to play for. Those members of the fleet who hadn’t fallen asleep, or gone to buy more supplies of deep heat, reconvened in the club house for the RSC themed Greek evening and enjoyed lots of Greek wine, stiffado and moussaka before dancing the night away to an authentic Greek band. As one of those who had fallen ‘asleep’ other detail is sketchy, although I’m assured no plates were broken and team Spider Pig did enjoy the Greek wine (well the white at least!)

Sunday dawned as windy as Saturday had ended, and with the wind from the west there was no escaping how breezy it was whilst rigging on the moorings! After a brisk sail to the start area the fleet was pretty much split in half between those reefed and those unreefed. With just two races left to sail battle recommenced at the front of the fleet between Tearaway, Spider Pig, Evolution and Kingfisher and at the end of Race 7 the only person not to have shown their keel some fresh air was Spider Pig who took their well-deserved third win of the event. Evolution came second and Tearaway limped over the line for third, having both had pretty spectacular wipe-outs downwind. This set up a final race showdown between Spider Pig and Tearaway who were now level on points. After a blistering first leg from Tearaway, Spider Pig showed tremendous downwind pace to slide through into the lead which they just about held onto, despite the challenges of Tearaway and Evolution, until the last windward leg when Tearaway slid past to lead round the final windward mark. With some very slick boat handling Spider Pig powered through to win the 2013 Hunter Formula One Nationals on the last downwind leg by about five boat lengths.

Spider Pig, sailed by James Nield, Richard Pratt, Peter Frith and James Longden were deserving winners of the event and became the sixth different winner of the trophy in the last six years. They were pushed very hard in every race by Bruce Bonar and team on Tearaway who took second overall. Josh Wilce and his team on Evolution took third overall with Chris Wright and his team on Kingfisher finishing fourth. Class Secretary, Nick Bett, and his team on Apocalypse finished fifth overall and showed exceptional pace in the lighter conditions on Friday and led the charge of reefed boats on Saturday and Sunday. Huge credit must go to the whole fleet for the competitiveness of the racing and especially to all those who sailed on Saturday and Sunday in what were very challenging conditions. The fact that so many completed races just shows how much progress the fleet has continued to make 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 led by Bob Glennie for managing the racing so well particularly in the challenging conditions we had all weekend! In his winners speech, James Nield thanked Rutland Sailing Club for its superb organisation of the event on every level and thanked the fleet for the best racing he has had for some time. We all look forward to a trip to the sunny lake district in the near future to reprise the Northern Championships which haven’t been held since 2010.

Overall Results:

Nationals 2013 Results