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Hornet Opening meeting at Port Dinorwic 12-13 July 2014 by Pippa Rogers

With only a month to go before their Nationals, the RYA National Hornet class had a chance to hone their skills on the beautiful Menai Straits at Y Felinheli (or Port Dinorwic, depending on the vintage of your map).

Courtesy of the Hywel Poole memorial race, competitors were treated to a voyage down the Straits on Saturday. With views of both the mountains of Snowdonia and the Anglesey shoreline, the fleet battled for position with a variety of other boats, both symmetrical and asymmetric.

Jack Wild and Pippa Rogers in 2157 took an early lead, which they held most of the way past Caernarfon and the historic castle before loosing it to Corin Westley and Jo Powell in 2115 (Floozie) as they approached the turning mark and the two boats had some very close racing following this with a number of position changes.

Heading back towards the National Watesports Centre at Plas Menai, Mike Owen and Jenny Williamson in 2156 found their own private breeze and closed up to the leading Hornets. At the finish, Jack and Pippa lead the class, followed by Corin and Jo, with Mike and Jenny completing the Hornet podium.

Light winds on Sunday may have led some to regretting their indulgence at the sumptuous buffet at the club the night before. An unusual wind direction ensured that race officer Andy Long set courses to test the fleet's boat handling skills with short legs and an increasingly strong tide.

In the first race, Pippa Rogers in 2157 (helmed for the day by Cathy Goodwin), took an early lead but lost it on the second lap to Mike Owen and Jenny Williamson in 2156 after sailing into more tide. Corin Westley and Jo Powell in 2115 sailed into third.

In the second race the tide also played its part with half the fleet forced to practice their backward sailing due to a lull in the breeze just as they sailed out into the main current. Corin/Jo and Cathy/Pippa managed to sneak up the shore and battle for the lead, with Corin and Jo taking eventual line honours.

Heading in for lunch, three boats (Corin/Jo, Cathy/Pippa and Mike/Jenny) were equal on points, with Alan Butler and Ed Lewis in 2180 (Lilith) just behind and keeping the podium holders on their toes.

Three races after lunch saw more close battling amonst these four boats. A split in tactics saw Corin /Jo and Mike/Jenny pull away from the others in race three, with Mike and Jenny taking line honours.

Races four and five were also tightly fought, with the tide and moored boats presenting numerous challenges in judging lay lines. Mike and Jenny battled their way to the front in race four, with Corin and Jo in their wake. However, a misjudged mark rounding in race five saw Mike and Jenny fall to fourth for the last race, behind Corin/Jo, Cathy/Pippa and Alan/Ed who had continued to challenge the three leading boats throughout the afternoon.

Overall a great weekend of closely fought sailing, with the overall victory going to Mike Owen and Jenny Williamson in 2156, who beat Corin Westley and Jo Powell in 2115 on countback. Cathy Goodwin and Pippa Rogers in 2157 completed the podium, having held off the challenge of Alan Butler and Ed Lewis in 2180.

Thanks to all those involved in the organisation and running of the event. A great weekend of close racing, good company and good food.

©The RYA National Hornet Association