|The RYA National
Hornet 60th Anniversary Europeans at Brixham Yacht Club
By Toby Barsley-Dale - GBR 2176 Full Potential juice
Thanks to Tom Gruit of Fotoboat for the use of the photographs -
Championship photographs are available at Fotoboat.com
This weekend the Hornet fleet has descended upon Brixham for its European Championships and to celebrate its 60th Anniversary.
A strong turn out has been bolstered by the return of some old faces as well as some new blood. Many past National and European Hornet champions (Macnamara, Larke, Bines) are in the fleet as well a the current crop of challengers making this one of the most open championships in years. The fleet has also been further boosted by the welcome arrival of some of our Polish friends.
Saturday saw the first day's racing in light and shifty conditions and, as predicted, racing was very tight. Two races were completed despite the best efforts of the wind. Different winners in both races and a mix up in places behind has left it tight at the top.
At the end of day Dick Garry and Matt McGrath are leading, Strangler and Pippa Rogers are second with Toby Barsley-Dale and Gareth Russell in third. But it is tight with these three only separated by two points.
Old boats rule!
Fog. When the fleet arrived for start time at the club it was definitely foggy. To the point that you couldn't see the breakwater, and then there was the drizzle as well...
So, not a promising start but our RO was resolutely optimistic and refused to be beaten so, while we were reading the Sunday papers, the race team was poised for action. At just gone midday the fog cleared to reveal a bay with no wind but, after 4 hours we were called afloat and the fleet scrambled to action (a bit like Thunderbirds but without the swimming pool and the Caribbean island).
Old boats were well in evidence with 2 sliding seat hornets out to play and the almost all original 'Shoestring' (191) coming to play with a fully battened 1956/57 terylene main, matching jib and cotton spinnaker.
Light and shifty breezes caused the first start of the day to be recalled but the second went off without incident. A good day was had by the Gibbons family with Chris Bines and Dave Gibbons winning the first race and David Conlon and Ed Gibbons coming 3rd. Ed and David picked up a cheap boat for the event and proceeded to better this great result with a win in race 2... proof that new boats and equipment aren't everything.
Consistency was seen in very testing conditions as Rob Larke and Nic Barnes put in 2 seconds and the leaders after day 1, Dick Garry and Matt McGrath, put in a 3rd and 4th to continue their winning ways.
However, we have come down today to clear weather and forecasts varying wildly in strength and direction so anything is possible...
The start lines were busy and we did have a couple of general recalls as over enthusiastic sailors pushed the starts but, in general, the fleet got away in good order (like a herd of stampeding buffalo).
Dick Garry and Matt McGrath dominated the day with 2 firsts and a second adding to their amazingly consistent scoreline. David Conlon and Ed Gibbons continued their rise up the fleet in their budget boat bagging results of 8,3 and 3 to lie second overall. Many of the predicted title challengers had difficult days and added larger numbers to their in the light and shifty conditions.
First place is not yet decided because although Dick Garry currently holds a commanding lead, Strangler and Pippa Rogers can mathematically beat them if they can win both races on day 4 and other results in the fleet go their way. It's all still to play for and boats as far down as 8th are still in contention for a hotly contested 3rd overall.
There are a few foggy heads this morning after the 60th Anniversary Dinner last night where Richard Barnes introduced a mystery story based on the names of all of the boats in the dinghy park. No mean feat considering some of the more colourfully named participants (Dr Fetish, Seaman Staines, Mr Wiggly and many, many others....). Prizes for the day's racing from Gul were presented and spot prizes from Harken were spread through the fleet using the highly complex 'lucky dip' method.
So, now we wait, there's no steady breeze yet but it's filling in and boats are poised in the dinghy park... bring it on!
All to play for on the last day with only a few points separating the top 8 and still the potential for an upset regarding Dick Garry and Matt McGrath in first place on the last day.
The breeze arrived, a nice 10 knot + from a reasonably steady direction and the fleet lined up. Strangler and Pippa Rogers had to win both races but Strangler went hunting within the 5 minute gun to ensure a good start and control of Dick and Matt. At the first mark the game seemed to be in Stranglers favour but the other front runners were in hot contention, enjoying the extra breeze and looking for those extra points to claim 2nd and 3rd.
After the first lap, Dick and Matt had managed to gain the upper hand on Strangler and they were locked in battle allowing Toby Barsley-Dale and Gareth Russell the opportunity to stretch away and capitalise on more breeze which allowed them to sail an excellent beat with the fleet hot on their tails for an amazing reach.
The race finished with Toby and Gareth claiming first hotly pursued by the rest of the fleet. The final race of the day provided the confirmation of the overall results - Dick Garry and Matt McGrath’s championship, Rob Larke and Nic Barnes in second and Dave Conlon and Ed Gibbons in third. The presentation took place overlooking the magnificent sailing area of Torbay from the lounge of the club. Huge thanks have to go to Sadie, the Race Officer and all of the team at the club, the sponsors – Toby and Dawn from 50 North, Allen, Marlow, Gul, Bainbridge, Sharpes Brewery and Harken, the Hornet Committee and all of the participants that made this an amazing event in which the results went down to the last day.
What more could you ask? We had proof that you don’t need a new boat to win, that sailors of all ages can be in the results and that heritage has a place in the competitive sailing championship world. Next year’s Nationals is taking place at Brightlingsea so we will be promised a great sailing event, hospitable socials and great company... why not come and join us? Contact the committee via the website for more information or for the name of your nearest club which has Hornets sailing.
©The RYA National Hornet Association