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FORMULA ONE 2014 Nationals

Rutland SC once again hosted the Hunter Formula One National Championships over the long weekend of 13-15 June 2014. A slightly smaller than usual fleet of 8 boats took part in the event with 7 local boats joined by Umzingeli sailed by Ralph Mason and team visiting again from Hamble. The omens for the weekend weren’t looking great as those who turned up for the regular Thursday race on the eve of the event were met with mirror calm conditions and a very slow (but picturesque) glide around the course. The forecast for Friday was for very little breeze with the prospect of slightly more on Saturday and Sunday, so the scene was set for a weekend of crews getting familiar with the leeward rail and bowman practicing their fairy footsteps. What no-one could have predicted was what a topsy turvy day of snakes and ladders we were about to encounter on the warmest day of the year so far.

PRO Bob Glennie announced a postponement on Friday morning, so some crews enjoyed the chatter and coffee on the balcony while the keen beans rigged up and drifted very gently towards the course area, more out of hope than expectation of any racing. Eventually, after a two hour postponement, all boats made it to the course area and the race team set about the task of attempting to guess where the wind was going to settle and try and get a race away.

Race 1 resembled a watery game of snakes and ladders with the wind switching on and off at random times and each leg of the race course was upwind at some time or other. Ominously for the rest of the fleet, Kingfisher from Rutland SC, sailed by Chris Wright, Dave Borrett and Matt Hollis took the win convincingly having escaped the pack on the last lap. Second was Apocalypse from Rutland SC sailed by Class Association Secretary Nick Bett, Declan Flanagan and Neil Duerden and third was Tenacious from Rutland SC sailed by Mark Felton, Mary Bancroft and Stuart Cook who kept rest of the fleet at bay.

By the start of Race 2, the wind had settled (it’s a relative term!) into a new direction and had increased slightly and a shorter course was set ... With a big right hand shift just before the start the fleet crept upwind for what turned into a much tighter race which was shortened after two laps. After much place changing upwind and downwind, Tearaway from Rutland SC sailed by Bruce Bonar, Andrew Bonar, Graham Colam and Edward Ashworth overhauled Kingfisher on the last leg to take the win after finding nearly every snake they could find in Race 1. Kingfisher finished second to end the day at the top of the leader board having had an amazingly consistent day and Apocalypse finished third to end the day in second place. The fleet retired to the clubhouse for plenty of chat about what could have been, washed down with copious glasses of free Pimm's (supplied kindly by Rutland SC) hoping that Saturday would bring some slightly less wacky conditions.

Sailing from the moorings to the course area on Saturday morning in a nice 6-8 knots of breeze all was looking good for a three race day. Race 3 ended up being a long one with the breeze shifting around quite a lot and some reasonably big pressures differences. With a windward mark tucked up close to the dam wall, the scene was set for a race where it was never going to be over until the finish line had been crossed. Tearaway led the fleet round until the last lap, when they left the door open for Kingfisher on the last upwind leg who sprinted through to take their second win of the event. Apocalypse, with the ability to sail downwind very deeply very quickly, also passed Tearaway on the last downwind leg to take second place with Tearaway having to settle for third.

Race 4 was led from start to finish by Kingfisher who pulled out a commanding lead by the finish to win their second race of the day. Tearaway finished second after a good race long tussle with Tenacious who finished third. Race 5 saw the windward mark and top reach pulled away from the shore which shortened the course and saw the best breeze of the day. An uncharacteristic bad start from Kingfisher put them on the back foot and saw them mid fleet at the end of the first lap. Tearaway led the fleet on lap two but Kingfisher were knocking the competition off one by one and were soon up to second and crept through to take their third win of the day. Tearaway kept up their improvement with another second and Apocalypse added another third to their scorecard.

At the end of day 2, having won 4 races out of 5, previous champion Kingfisher had one hand on the trophy after a superb display of tactical sailing and some exceptional upwind and downwind pace that no-one else could live with. Tearaway had leapfrogged Apocalypse to lie second and Apocalypse held onto third place after another consistent day. The fleet reconvened for dinner on Saturday night with even more stories of ‘what could have been’ and the hope that there might be a little more breeze for the last two races of the series.

Sunday morning dawned chillier, greyer and slightly more breezy, it could have been 10 knots or so as we sailed out to the course, which the crews were delighted about as it meant they could sit on the side and not hug the leeward rail as they had on Friday and for parts of Saturday. A starboard biased start line led to the inevitable two general recalls as the excitement of sitting on the side got the better of most boats. The race got away at the third time of asking with Tearaway nailing the start and first leg to lead a tightly bunched fleet round the first two laps, Kingfisher was chasing Tearaway hard but Tearaway held on to take their second race win with Kingfisher in second doing more than enough to secure the National Championship title with a race to spare. Apocalypse finished third and Growler from Rutland SC sailed by Nick Verdino, Nick Verdino Jnr, Will Hall and John Dixon continued their improvement finishing fourth.

Fittingly, the final race saw the tightest racing of the weekend with Growler getting a fantastic start and leading the fleet round the windward mark and for the following couple of laps. There was a very tight tussle behind with Tearaway, Kingfisher, Apocalypse, Tenacious and Umzingeli all fighting hard to chase down Growler. Growler held on until the last windward leg when Tearaway sneaked through to take the race win, Growler finished an excellent second, Apocalypse added another third and Kingfisher had to settle for fourth.

Kingfisher, sailed by Chris Wright, a stalwart of the Rutland Formula One fleet and crewed by Dave Borrett and Matt Hollis were the thoroughly deserving winners of the event and collected the stunning trophy he last won back in 2009. Despite their two race wins on day 3, Bruce Bonar and team on Tearaway left themselves too much to do to catch Kingfisher and finished second overall for the second year running. Apocalypse sailed by Nick Bett and team finished third overall counting a very consistent set of results inside the top three and Growler sailed by Nick Verdino and team snatched fourth place from Tenacious courtesy of their last race second place.

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 in the challenging conditions we had all weekend which really was a race officers nightmare! Despite a smaller than usual turnout, if you didn’t take part you missed a cracking weekend of racing so make sure that next year’s nationals date is in your diaries 12, 13 & 14 June 2015 – there are no excuses!

Overall Results:

Nationals 2014 Results