Ronstan Worthy Champions
The UK 18ft Skiff fleet descended on Hayling Island last weekend for the UK National Championships, sponsored by www.carbonology.com and Predator Technology (www.predatorworld.co.uk) who are providing Headcam footage of the UK Grand Prix.
There was plenty of sun, but not much wind, however the race team managed to squeeze 7 races with the available breeze providing close tactical skiff racing. This National Championship represents the second of three important UK Skiff events before the Mark Foy Trophy takes place in Carnac at the end of June. Teams were understandably eager to see whether preseason training and improvements had paid off.
Quick out of the blocks and back on the water for the first time this season, Team Bahrain Pindar fired the warning shot by leading the fleet and putting in their first bullet having made the perfect start. Bowman Will Penfold stood in for Dave Richards who’s currently on "parental" leave, whilst Sheet Hand and Helm position were filled by the regular team of Andrew Fairley and Andy Richards. Ronstan, skippered by Dave Hall with Paul Constable and Alec McKinlay, took the 2nd race showing a clean pair of heels with blistering pace in the marginal trapeze conditions. Gill Wet ’N’ Wild (Ed Browne/Mark Tait/Jack "Jockie" Christophers) picked up their second runner up spot of the day. Ronstan took the third race of the first day in similar style, leaving the rest of the fleet scratching their heads to find that extra gear to keep in touch.
Day two started a little earlier, the race management team at Hayling doing a great job of running four quick fire races back to back to make the most of the best breeze. Ronstan continued to demonstrate their light air dominance with two more race wins building a strong lead in the series. Team Bahrain Pindar would have kept up the pressure with two second places, only to find that in Race 5 they were caught OCS. Jamie Mears and his PICA team started to show some of their earlier season form with a 4th and a 2nd place, however too little too late to make an impact on the leaders. In Race 6, Ronstan had their first slip of the series back in 5th place leaving Bahrain Pindar to claim their second win. Ronstan’s response was to nail what proved to be the final race of the series with another emphatic performance, dominating from start to finish. Despite Ronstans dominance the racing continued to be close with plenty of position changes amongst the top 5 boats. The headcam action of Saturday’s racing has been provided by Predator Technology and is available on the youtube 18ft Skiff Channel www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2bfGQ-KKuk.
Despite an early squall raising the question of small rigs, the fleet sailed out into the bay for the final day in glorious sunshine and a light North easterly. Despite the hint of a sea breeze a steady direction failed to materialise, leaving Ronstan worthy champions and Winners of the RMW Challenge Plate and National Championship Trophy. Bahrain Pindar picked up the runner's up medal, with Gill Wet ’N’ Wild rounding off the podium. Carbonology generously provided a pair of carbon tiller extensions for the Winners of the final race which were claimed by the Ronstan team. Carbonology also awarded a carbon repair kit for the crash of the weekend. However, in the light conditions the fleet failed to oblige with a single capsize or pitch pole. The prize had to be awarded to the Investec team for running aground in the Hayling tide on the way out to the first race due to a jammed centreboard.
Worthy praise to Paul Carpenter and his race management team who set some great courses in testing conditions and thanks to Hayling Island Sailing Club for the hospitality and superb facilities.
Next stop for the UK 18ft Skiff Grand Prix is Round 3 in Weymouth on the 6th/7th June. This is the final UK event before the centrepiece of the season, the Mark Foy Trophy in Carnac, France, 27 June - 4 July, when Northern and Southern Hemispheres will lock horns. Over 30 skiffs are expected to challenge for this series, which is billed to be one of the largest and most competitive in the 18ft Skiff Class' history. Further detail available at www.UK18footer.org.