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Hornets at the Hoo Freezer at Hoo Ness Yacht Club
10th- 11th March 2012
By Toby Barsley-Dale

Despite the poor wind forecast there was still a good turnout for the Hoo Freezer. Amongst the fleet for the practice race on Saturday were two Hornets. 2132 sailed by Strangler crewed for this event by John Shelton and newcomers to the fleet for 2012 Toby Barsley-Dale and Gareth Russell sailing 2176.
Having passed Toby and Gareth early on, Strangler and John went on to establish a sizeable lead. Despite their best efforts to close the gap, Toby and Gareth closed the gap never really managed to get back on terms to challenge in the light conditions.
Perhaps, given the even lighter forecast for Sunday, finding an all you can eat Chinese restaurant for the Saturday evening may have been a mistake. But a good night was had in company with some of the Osprey fleet.
Sunday as feared was almost windless, with just the occasional puffs filtering through. Despite this and the threat of the tide starting to run halfway through the race, the Race Officer bravely set a course and sent the fleet afloat. The Hornet ranks were reinforced by Steve Cooke and Alistair McHardy in 2080. This welcome addition also meant the class could field an entry in the class team trophy.
With just enough breeze to make over the tide the fleets were dispatched with the fast fleet, including the Hornets, starting second. Toby and Gareth were caught and pushed over the line by a very late and cheeky port tack entry from another boat which took them both over and, with the round the ends rule in force and having to return against the tide, the leaders of the fleet (including Strangler and John) were a long way ahead by the time Toby and Gareth managed to restart.
With only a few boats round the windward mark, the breeze died (for the first of many occasions during the day) and a large raft formed allowing both Steve/Alistair and Toby/Gareth to sneak through on the mark, passing many of the fast fleet in the process and set off (slowly) in pursuit of the leaders.
Over the following laps, a complex game of snakes and ladders unfolded always slightly favouring the boats behind as you could see people in front find the holes and then take avoiding action. Slowly but surely Toby and Gareth caught Strangler and John, eventually finding a passing lane on the last beat. Steve and Alistair were also quietly coming through the fleet and passing many faster boats on the water.
With the final results calculated we were delighted to find all three boats were in the top 10. Steve and Alistair finishing 9th, Strangler and John 8th and Toby and Gareth 6th. This was enough to edge out the B14's for the class team trophy... maybe they were two focused on the chips and tea!
So, all in all, this was a great start to the Diamond Jubilee celebrations for the class. With a great open meeting program and the Championships in Brixham this year it's going to be a year to remember!

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