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Supernova Inland Championship at Northampton Sailing Club

by Chris Hawley 4 Sep 2016 21:15 BST 3-4 September 2016
Cliff Milliner wins the Supernova Inlands © Josh Cooper

Hot off the back of the spectacular sight of 120 Supernovas at the 2016 Nationals, a 52 strong Supernova fleet descended on Northampton for the 20th anniversary Inlands for what turned out to be a game of three halves!

The weather on Saturday morning when we arrived was glorious, sun and a F3 straight down the lake. Wetsuit shorts and t-shirts were donned as we headed out to the start line for races 1 and 2 of the championships. A small course was set by the RO which meant there was some interesting pile ups at the windward mark in both races, with plenty of swimming and penalty turns on the go! Race 1 saw newcomer Matt Biggs finding early form and leading from start to finish, fellow newcomer Chris Gould sneaked into second on the final lap and held it until the finish. Third place was current national champion Iain Horlock. The big surprise though was multiple national and inland champion Cliff Milliner who finished outside of the top 10.

It was Biggs again who took the lead in race 2. The top 10 boats were incredibly close and there were plenty of position changes. Biggs took the bullet again, with a determined Milliner in second and Andy Flitcroft in third.

The fleet came ashore for lunch and whilst we debated drug testing Biggs, we watched the wind build and the rain come in. Wetsuit shorts were changed for winter kit and spray tops. Races 3 and 4 were held in a very gusty F4/6 and sheet rain, the RO had stretched the course out, meaning some tired legs at the end of each beat.

Milliner showed great pace in race 3 taking the win. A heroic performance from Robin Kirby secured him second and Chris Gould was third. Where was Biggs? 11th – equalling Miller's result from race one blowing the championships wide open.

Race 4 was probably the windiest race of the weekend and Horlock showed us quite why he is national champion, hiking with all 8foot of his height to maximum advantage. Horlock was first out of the traps and took the win from Milliner who was showing unusually quick speed in the very windy stuff – race 1 must have really riled him.

Further down the fleet (and a lot of the front) saw repeated capsizes as the dead downwind leg continued to claim victims. Whoops of excitement were heard from many on the slightly fruity reaches!

Overnight results (1 discard) saw Milliner on 5 points, Horlock on 8, Biggs on 9 and Kirby on 10.

There were lots of weary faces over the Association AGM where there was quite some discussion regarding potential refinements to the fantastic boat we all sail. After the AGM came a game of how many types of carbs you could eat (I managed chips, pastry, rice, bread and 2 types of pasta). War stories of the day kept some in the bar until late (or maybe that was to avoid camping in the rain!).

As the weary eyed emerged from their tents, many looked like they'd run a marathon the day before. After some stretching and a full cooked breakfast we were ready to roll in a beautiful F4. The championship was all to play for, and there were some concerns from Horlock about having to do maths whilst sailing.

It was a clear start on race 5 and Milliner showed he meant business taking the bullet. Fellow Cotswold crew, Gavin Young, must have slept well as he banged in a second place. Third was Horlock. Biggs 7th.

Moving into race 6 it looked like things had panned out to be a 2 horse race between Milliner and Horlock. Milliner decided that his sail looked a bit dirty and decided to capsize to clean it. Unfortunately for him, 30 seconds before the start isn't necessarily the best time to turn turtle. Best off the line was Gould, who showed his potential in the Supernova and taught us all a lesson – leading from start to finish and taking the bullet by quite a significant margin (1 leg or 2, I couldn't tell from where I was!). Steve Hawley was second at the windward mark and a good chunk of the race, but was reeled in by the chasing group, lead by Tim Hand and Matt Williams. It was Hand who stepped up and took second. Milliner cut through the fleet like a hot knife through butter and somehow made it up to third. Horlock having his worst race of the championships, 9th.

So overall Milliner became our Inland Champion once again (maybe the 5th time?) – well done Cliff. Horlock second, Biggs third, Gould fourth and Kirby fifth.

The racing in the silver fleet was also incredibly tight, with the top 3 silver boats finishing 13th, 15th and 16th. The winner was a well deserved Richard Lambert (despite trying to decapitate the Class Chairman on the start line of race 5!) – welcome to the gold fleet Richard.

Masters (over 50) champion was Andy Flitcroft, 6th overall
Veterans (over 60) champion was Paul Morton 16th overall
Youth (under 21) champion was Lewis Brailsford 20th overall
Ladies champion was Serena Stewardson 47th overall

Full results at www.northamptonsailingclub.org/results/2016/supernova_open_2016.htm

The Association thanks Northampton for their hospitality and legendary galley service. With special thanks to Neil Pitcher and his team for being our race team as usual.