Tim Riley/James Taylor take victory at British Winter Champs
Over the weekend of 8-9 March, the British 420 fleet could be found gathering in North Wales to celebrate the end of the wet and windy Winter that we have all just endured.
Over forty 420s made the trip to Pwllheli for the class Winter Championships, and the domestic fleet also welcomed some of our friends from Ireland. The event was also the first selector event for the 2014 World and Junior European Teams.
Going into the weekend the forecast wasn't at all good, with a very stable prediction of 25-35 kts from the South for Saturday. No one, not even the wise old sage of Plas Menai, believed that we would sail both days. Saturday morning saw the race team gather fully anticipating a quiet day in the bar and the chance to take in some rugby, only to find that, for once, the wind gods appeared to be looking on us more favourably than expected.
After a brief recce and a short postponement, the fleet were let loose and headed to the course. Race 1 got underway in 15 to 20 kts with a very large and confused sea. Executing their strategy, and fresh from a second in this year's Tiger Trophy, Tim Riley and James Taylor took the left of the track and established an early lead, going on to win from Sarah Norbury and Mari Davies, with Morgan Dibb and Rosie Watkins in third place. Race 2 followed quickly, though by now the breeze was easing. Tim and James again punched through to the front, this time followed by Ben Hazledine and Rhos Hawes, then Scott Wallis and Luke Burywood in third place.
Making the most of the conditions, PRO Stog got straight into race 3. Scott and Luke worked the left hand side to hold a 36 second advantage at the first windward mark, followed by Tim and James, with Sarah and Mari well ahead of the chasing pack. At the gate the chasing two had closed the gap. On the final run a tactical battle between the boy boats (The team selections are based on two separate Boys and Girls teams), allowed Sarah and Mari to take the lead, followed by Tim and James and Scott and Luke. Not quite believing our luck, we went into a fourth race which saw Tim and James back on top, Sarah and Mari continuing a great run in second, and Robbie King and Ryan Orr made their first top three appearance of the weekend in third, with Millie and Amy fourth.
The whole fleet sailed to a very high standard following the excellent winter and spring training programme put together by our training officer Nigel Ashworth and the excellent coaches the class has available. This resulted in the safety fleet led by Graham Dibb only being in action a few times.
Everyone came off the water commenting on a great days sailing, and the day ended with four races when realistically we expected none, or one at best.
Day 2 saw an early start notionally because of a forecast of a dying breeze, but largely to accommodate a certain afternoon Rugby match (remember we were in Wales now). Race 5 got underway in a 13 knot southerly breeze and saw a tight three way battle between Robbie and Ryan who led around the windward mark closely followed by Max and Joe and Tim and James. After some close tactical racing Tim and James pulled ahead on the run in the now dying 8 to 10 knot breeze, followed by Max and Joe and Robbie and Ryan. The breeze continued to drop for Race 6, which was won by Tim and James, with Robbie and Ryan second and Max and Joe third. The wind now completely petered out for a while, causing a postponement before the final Race, no 7 could be started. Eventually the breeze did build again and proceedings resumed. Unfortunately the fleet were spooked and a general recall ensued. The PRO, under some pressure by this time to get matters concluded in time for the aforesaid Rugby match, duly produced the black flag. There were a number of BFD victims at the restart including series leaders Tim and James. The race was won in convincing style by Sarah and Mari having taken the pin end and worked the left hand side, which seemed to be the most profitable strategy all weekend, with Max and Joe in second and Robbie and Ryan in third.
With the fleet back ashore, and protest time finishing a whole 7 minutes before kick- off, we managed to fit in prizegiving just in time (well nearly). Prizes were presented by the class chairman, decked out in his finest attire. Leading overseas boat, in 7th place overall, was Ewan McMahon and Colin O'Sullivan from Howth. The top 4 were, in 4th place, Max and Joe, in 3rd Robbie and Ryan, in 2nd overall and leading ladies were Sarah and Mari, and the 2014 CurraDinghy British International 420 Winter champions, on 7 points net, were Tim Riley and James Taylor.
The sailors thanked the club, the many and varied volunteers, and the sponsors for all their work and support. The next National 420 event is the Spring Championships at Hayling on March 29th and 30th – see www.420sailing.org.uk for details.
More event pictures can be found at www.facebook.com/420gbrsailing
Source: Phil Taylor