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Runners & Riders by John Shelton

Excitement is mounting ahead of the Hornet International Championships to be held 16-19 August at Royal Torbay Yacht Club.

Among the runners are many previous champions, as well as a smattering of rock stars, keen to grab the silver in this challenging class. The field is more open than usual, as current champion Mike McNamara will be absent, although many of his new plastic sails will surely be at the front of the fleet.

The evergreen 2004 champion Jon Williams (Strangler) and Pippa Rogers will be sporting a new Exe rig, and may be the team to beat, after their top showing at the Exe Regatta. Dick Garry and Matt McGrath from Starcross, champions in 2007, 2010 and 2012 in Mr Wiggly, will be out for revenge, assuming they have the boat back from Tim Coombe's paint shop in time!

The Dirty Dogs from Weston, Dave Edge & Martin Arnison, champions in 2011, will be there, with a new McNamara rig, and rock star Rob Larke, who last won in 2003, is this year teaming up with Nic Barnes in The Sting II, a seriously quick bit of hardware.

Shoreham's Peter Bennett & John Shelton are reforming their 2009 winning team, this time in Red Streamliner, winner of the Concours d'Elegance at last year's Dinghy Show, but rumours that they will be sailing with fenders all round may be untrue.

Other hot prospects include Will McGrath and Sam Woolner ("Will & Grace"), fresh from their good showing in the Wayfarer Euros last week and sporting a plastic Exe rig on Ultimatum, and Toby Barsley-Dale and Gareth Russell, who always seem to be there or thereabouts in the Ullman-powered Full Potential Juice.

Expect to see a mix of boats at the front of the fleet – the Hornet doesn't forgive mistakes with impunity – and last year's championship had six different race winners. The international element comes from the growing fleet in Poland.

Torbay in August can offer anything, from anywhere, but our last visit in 2007 proved the race management and hospitality to be second to none. Don't forget the bucket and spade!
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