RHYS LEWIS/DREW RIGHT STAKE OUT BRITISH 420 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP WIN
The 420 class made a return to Brightlingsea SC for their 2018 National Championships and welcomed an internationally flavoured fleet with the UK entrants swelled by competitors from America, France and Republic of Ireland.
The club put on a fantastic event for the class, with a real team effort from club members evident on and off the water designed to provide excellent racing and hospitality – the hospitality extending to the many supporters for the sailors who were also present at the event. Evening entertainment ranged from a pasta supper to a full blown Black Tie dinner and at the prizegiving the fleet expressed their thanks to the very many Brightlingsea SC members who had made the event such a success.
Pre-event coaching saw some competitors making the most of the chance to have 3 days out learning the tides and wind patterns at this estuarial location, with class coach Tim Rush providing the participants with some really great tips and advice on how to sail this venue. Aided by Dan Burns and Rhys Lewis (members of the 420 Youth Squad) those who took part certainly came off the water knowing a lot more about the conditions and waters.
The first day of racing saw competitors enjoying a decent breeze and getting in 2 races. Haydn Sewell and William Heathcote took line honours in race 1 with Rhys Lewis and Drew Wright winning race 2.
Day two provided the stiffest winds of the event with the wind building throughout the day and the PRO keen to get racing completed before the worst of the front hit. The lighter crews did exceptionally well to compete in the very testing conditions, and everyone was very glad to get back ashore, get boats packed up and secured and find somewhere dry and out of the wind. A number of tents didn't survive the storm, but the fleet only suffered 1 broken mast and centerboard. Winners for the day were Rhys and Drew, who took line honours in both races.
Day three was forecast to be lighter but appearances can be deceptive and whilst it was lighter in the creek there was a good wind blowing out on the race course, with the RIB crews reporting back that it was 'a tad lumpy'. Those with weight and experience were able to power their way round the track for the first 2 races, but the wind dropped off for the final 2 races of the day making it more enjoyable throughout the fleet. Race 5 was won by the USA team of Will Mitchels and Ian Robinson, Races 6 and 7 went to Rhys and Drew and Race 8 went to Adele Burns and Dan Wright.
The final day dawned grey and windless and AP was flown at 09.30. The fleet settled down to wait for the wind, which arrived just over an hour later with AP coming down as D went up. The wind gradually built and the fleet enjoyed race 9 in light winds with the wind picking up enough to bring trapezes into play for race 10. The Irish team of Gemma McDowell and Emma Gallagher were the winners of race 9 and Alex Colquitt and Boo Coles won race 10.
With an impressive run of first places the National Champions for 2018 are Rhys Lewis and Drew Wright, the Junior Champions are Haydn Sewell and William Heathcote. Megan Ferguson and Bettine Harris are the 2018 Ladies Champions, Katy Byne and Ellie Driver are the U17 Ladies Champions, with Alex Colquitt and Boo Coles becoming the Mixed Boat Champions.
The class Special Award went to Freya Terry and Finn Roberts who didn't let a broken mast, ripped sail and damaged centreboard beat them, and worked tirelessly to get their boat back on the water in time to race again the next day with the help of other class members who loaned parts or helped with the re-rigging.
Source: Jennie Clark