|The RYA National
RYA National Hornet – National Championships 2011 hosted by Netley sailing Club
With their eyes firmly set on next years mega 60th Anniversary celebrations, the Hornet fleet chose Netley to host their 2011 Nationals. Some of the reasoning here was the Club’s acknowledged ability to host a good event out afloat but to then party in style with the fleet once back on shore.
In the lead up to the start of competition, more than a few sailors watched with interest as the Cowes week fleets took a hammering in the run of strong breezes and as boats started arriving on Friday night they were met with strong, blustery winds and heavy rain. The event, shared with the Kestrels, is scheduled to run for 4 days with a full programme of racing and on shore activities.
With the Race Team keen to get 2 heats in before the tide disappeared, racing started on time but even before the first start sequence had gotten underway, a major wind shift saw the AP flying whilst the course had to be relaid. The fleet finally started but even as they spread out up the beat, another huge windshift shuffled the fleet to the point that the Race Committee had no option but to abandon the race and pull the fleet back for another go. So might say that this was the local organisers drawing down on a few favours, as Tom Guy, who has been the driving force behind this Championships, had been called OCS but was given a ‘get out of jail free’ card by the weather. Another course was laid, only for the Hornets, now suffering the frustrations of buck fever, to push for a general recall. Justice was seen to be done as the team of Toby Barsley-dale and Smiffy Smith – who had dragged the fleet over in the first start, ended up falling foul of the Black Flag, albeit by the smallest of margins. The other Toby (Morsley) took up the challenge and held the lead before slipping to 3rd place at the finish behind Class veteran Peter Bennett and Richard Garry from Starcross who sailed impressively through to the win.
Mention must be made of Championship ‘dark horse’ Roger Kellaway who not only missed the windward gate but took a trip almost to Cowes on his 2nd beat. Hitting the corners is one thing, taking a great circle route on a half mile beat is another!!
The wind was steadier for Race 2, Toby Barsley-Dale came within six inches of being ruled OCS but instead made one of the most copybook starts the Race Team had ever seen. Why he should then try to gore the windward mark is something of a mystery, whilst this was being sorted out Team Dirty Dog, Weston’s Edge and Arnison and the ever present Strangler made good gains. In a fine display of sailing, the lightweight North Sails team retook the lead which they held to the finish ahead of Edge and Strangler.
With 3 races to sail on Day 2, there are lots of places to be made and awards given, not just for the sailing!
Every (Dirty) Dog has its day!
Day 2 at the Hornet nationals again dawned to greyish skies and a blustery wind. It was clear that this would start out as a day for clear heads ( something of a rare commodity over in the hard drinking Kestrel fleet) and for once the Hornet reputation for partying had been put to one side as pressure on the front runners grew.
Out afloat the wind was swinging more than 30° either side of the mean which set a challenge for the Race Team to get a fair course laid. Eventually the fleet got away on a good start but with huge wind shifts there were ample opportunities for big gains – and losses…..many helms getting both in the same leg. As the wind finally started to settle in a completely new direction the Race Officer shorten course to put the fleet out of it’s misery which handed a well crafted second win to the Starcross pairing of Richard Garry and James Beer. Peter Bennett/John Shelton were second with Tim Coombe and Jane Smith in their immaculate boat scoring a well deserved third.
Some of the fleet wanted to get ashore at this point for a beer break but with a good call on the weather, the Race Team laid the course in anticipation of wind arriving which is duly did….lots of it. The result was a thrilling race that provided thrills and spills all around the course and gave the bigger crews in the fleet something to cheer about. At the end the two leading boats were so closely overlapped that the Race Officer needed a Rizla paper to separate the two boats. The result went to the Dirty Dog, Edge and Arnison, who shaved their way past Bennett and Shelton whilst Garry and Beer hung on for another useful 3rd place.
Then followed a moment of brief controversy, as the boats were sent ashore for a short break rather than running straight on into the 3rd heat of the day. Toby Barsley-Dale was seen trying to bulk buy pies from the Phantom sailor shaped crews in the Kestrel fleet as though his crew, ‘Smiffy’ Smith is hugely talented, he is also slighter in stature than most of the other leading crews.
With the wind still building the Race Team set up the big race of the Day, 5 laps and no prospect of this being shortened. The conditions took their toll of the less well bolted together boats, but for the leaders this was a classic of Hornet sailing. Full on screaming reaches, slogging beats and top class competition.
Despite the pie eating trick not working, Toby Barsley-Dale was sailing superbly after his customary hot shot start but for the first 3 laps the activity was all going on back in the fleet. Strangler was sailing well until he trawled for fish with his spinnaker, crew Pippa spent so long stretched out on the foredeck it was thought that she’d bedded down for the night there. The sounds of boat on boat contact were heard coming from the leeward mark as crews, struggling to drop spinnakers, got hit by ever strong gusts. The North Sails Hornet was still leading but the Dirty Dog was now snapping at the heels, actually powering past on the 2nd reach when the leading lightweights found themselves heading for the shore on a wild gust. Toby quickly dropped the kite, then 2 sailed to the mark and thus regained the leading as Edge and Arnison struggled with this own private blast of strong wind.
The Weston pair were not to be denied though as they powered upwind, using their weight to full advantage, before two flying reaches that took them to their second win of the day. Toby and Smiffy took a 2nd place that will be very useful later on when the second discard kicks in, with Bennet/Shelton 3rd.
Mention must go to all the teams who completed this race, none more so than 14 year old Jamie Kellaway, crewing for Tom Guy, who held on again the adult crews to be there at the finish. As for Kevin Burt and Barry Miller, they still to learn that capsizing remains optional over a weekend of sailing and is not yet compulsory!
So, at the half way point in the Championships, three boats are tied for 1st place but this will undoubtedly changed as today Southampton Water is glassy smooth and the sun is burning down. After a Sunday outing for the big boys, will Day 3 see the Charge of the Light Brigade?
More wind equals more fun!
Day 3 at the Hornet Nationals at Netley made one think that we still had a summer, as the morning was hot and windless. The Race Team spread out seeking wind and once the North Westerly breeze had settled, started to get the fleet ready for racing. It would be a day for the lightweights, but after 2 days of wind no one seemed to be complaining.
As the P flag came down at 1 minute, AP went up again, the wind was once more swinging through 90°. Now a full on SW breeze started to make its presence known, as soon crews were flat out wiring as the hard pressed mark boats struggled to lay, then re-lay courses Within 20 minutes the wind was steadying, a good move as this would be a long day for the fleet.
Strangler and Pippa Rogers made the most of the chances in Race 6 and by taking the win increased the number of realistic overall championship contenders to 5. Behind them Richard Garry and James Beer were consolidating their grip on the front spot, though 3rd placed Toby Barsley-Dale and Smiffy were showing some amazing bursts of downwind speed to keep their hopes alive.
Race 7, more wind and a dead true line that saw boats hitting the front from either end. The 1,2,3, 4 was as per the overall standings: Garry, Edge, Bennett and Strangler. By now the wind was starting to cause some problems as tiredness and tired boats started breaking or making errors. Kevin Burt and crew Baz Miller were amongst those who found they couldn’t count past 4 (not that helpful on a 5 lap race)and finished early, plus there were others who had more than a close encounter with the wet stuff.
The last race of the day was another Hornet classic. With the Race Team once more getting reaching angles right this was a ‘screamer’ and places were changing through the fleet. Team Dirty Dog (aka Dave Edge and crew mike Arnison) binned the start but set out on a mission to carve their way through the fleet, intent on making the most of the conditions. Toby and Smiffy showed how top class lightweights could blast their way downwind, behind them the Dirty Dog team were fighting back towards the front runners and closing in fast. Strangler, who had exceeded EU fishing quotas with his spinnaker the day before kept the pressure on the leading boat whilst Toby Morsley and Alex Rogers were enjoying themselves in 3rd. At the start of the 2nd triangle the sky was darkening and a thunderstorm/line squall was becoming a real danger. In the interest of the safety of all those afloat, the Race Team made the call to shorten at the end of the 2nd sausage. Had the third triangle been sailed, the Dirty Dog team could have hit the front, as it was Toby and Smiffy enjoyed another classy wind, from Strangler and Alex.
Going in to the last day, when 2 races are scheduled, Richard Garry and James Beer still hold the advantage out front, but there are 4 other teams hot on their heels. As predicted by the Race Officer(for those who bought him a beer) wind was forecast for today and wind is what it looks like they will get.
Dirty Dogging brings big rewards!
Day 4 at the Hornet Nationals and the South Coast was back into autumnal conditions. It was grey, drizzly and breezy – enough wind to catch out the unwary, not enough to allow the real heavyweights to dominate.
With the situation so tight on points at the front of the fleet, the opportunity was there for one of the teams to stamp their dominance onto the fleet. Apart from the usual small shifts found in any breeze, the conditions were as fair as any could be for racing, this was all about who could make the most of the day.
From the outset Dave Edge and Martin Arnison from Weston Sailing Club decided to make their challenge from the front. They had the weight to power upwind and the nerve to hold the kite down the reaches. This last point proved significant, as the Race Team had once again set the fleet a course that was a very close call on ‘do we or don’t we’ go for spinnakers. A visiting trawler who decided to carve through the fleet didn’t help some of the front runners, nor did a lengthy capsize for Strangler and Pippa. Peter Bennett and Toby Barsley-Dale slugged it out for 2nd place, with the extra crew weight of John Shelton proving the deciding factor, as the wind picked up even more. None of this mattered to Edge and Arnison in their home built boat ‘Dirty Dog,’ who thrashed their way around the course to take their third win in the Championships. With overnight leaders Richard Garry and James Beer suffering something of a wardrobe malfunction in the spinnaker department on the tight 2nd reach and slipping to 5th, the top prize now hung on the result of the final race.
Far from increasing further, the wind felt as if it was starting to soften, but the change in conditions were not going to deny the ‘Dirty Doggers’. Peter Bennett’s efforts to keep Toby Barsley- Dale at bay in Race 9 cost him dearly, as his rudder self-destructed in the countdown to the final race. As Edge and Arnison stretched out to take their second consecutive win and with it the Championships, behind them 14 year old Youth squad member Toby Morsley was proving to be a real pain for his namesake, Toby (Barsley-Dale). In the end the greater experience of the North Sails team, with their devastating downwind speed, was sufficient to pull them through to second, though by then the leaders had long gone!
So, after many years of trying, Dave and Martin have taken a well deserved Championship win and with it, the hopes of the Hornet Class into their 60th Anniversary year. In a breezy and at times difficult 4 days of sailing, that was only decided on Race 10, the Hornet fleet can be proud of their efforts ashore and afloat. Congratulations went to the organiser, Netley’s Tom Guy and to all at the Club who had worked so hard to make this Championship a classic event for a wonderful fleet.
David Edge/Martin Arnison 18pts
Richard Garry/James Beer 20pts
Toby Barsley-Dale/Smiffy Smith 22pts
Peter Bennett/John Sheldon 22pts
©The RYA National Hornet Association